chapter  24
15 Pages

On the Production of Ibsen’s Rosmersholm

Naturally, I would like to achieve what I consider to be the ideal for every actor. It is impossible to dene this top achievement in a few words. I consider that the most important thing is to create conditions

that would allow the actor to preserve, in full measure, “his own individuality.”1 Under these conditions, the actor entering the stage would not know at all how a particular line, or even a segment of his role, might sound today. Not even approximately. I want the actor to remain completely faithful2 and calm, to remain himself all the way through, in blood and thought, and, whenever possible, to refrain from using makeup. He should only slightly emphasize the important

features on his face and de-emphasize the ones that interfere [with the right image]. Why can’t Rosmer, the character, have the face of the actor Khmara? Why can’t the character of Kroll look like the actor Lazarev? Why can’t Rebecca be exactly like Olga Knipper-Chekhova? Rebecca is younger than Knipper-Chekhova-that’s all. This is the only way in which Knipper-Chekhova’s face should be altered, and not by making her look younger, but by masking [subtracting] anything that could age Rebecca. Let’s worry less about the wigs. They should be avoided completely. The actor [Leonid] Leonidov does not need one either, even though the author says that his character has long hair. God-given face, God-given voice. Actors should transform by the

power of their inner impulse. The basic condition will be the actor’s faith that he, the actor, is

put into circumstances and relationships indicated by the author-he personally needs what his character needs in the play. Suppose the actor understands his character well. Suppose he understands that the steps specied by the author are the only logical steps. Then, suppose the actor nds the very idea of living in these circumstances tempting and comes to love (without sympathizing) something about the play and his character. Finally, suppose the actor becomes convinced of things his character is convinced of and feels the necessity to spend a couple of hours in the atmosphere of Rosmersholm and prepare for the festivity that the creative process offers. By doing all that, the actor will be transformed, and, at the same time, he won’t lose his own creative individuality in anything. I do not want the actor to ever perform a particular place of his role

the same way, with the same degree of intensity. I want those feelings, and their intensity, to be truthful to today’s performance; I want them [feelings] to arise in the actor naturally, on their own accord. Suppose a particular moment turns out paler than in yesterday’s

performance. The truthfulness of the moment, of its subconscious logic, will compensate for that paleness. Such a moment would never feel sunken in the generally truthful ‚ow [of the play]. The most awful thing is when an actor tries to repeat yesterday’s

success, or when he prepares for the climax. [In life,] These climactic moments usually result from [spontaneous] self-expression; in other words, they result from my reaction to the causes that lie outside of myself. The form of this reaction depends on my individuality. In fact, both the form and strength of my emotional response are determined by the fact that I cannot possibly react differently to this external cause. How can one possibly prepare for this [reaction], and how can one recall and wish to repeat yesterday’s form, however successful it may have been?