chapter  1
16 Pages

Stanislavsky and Politics: Active Analysis and the American Legacy of Soviet Oppression

BySHARON MARIE CARNICKE

In classes and rehearsals, U.S. acting teachers and directors invoke Stanislavsky’s name as if they knew him well. In books and articles about theatre and performance, U.S. scholars refer to the “Stanislavskian actor” as if the phrase represents a clear and transparent concept. Yet, assumptions behind these references are not necessarily derived from clear-sighted visions of the Russian’s work. Americans tend to think of Stanislavsky as a tyrannical director and teacher, exclusively committed to realism as an aesthetic style and personal emotion as the primary wellspring of great acting. In fact, he viewed the actor as an autonomous artist, saw realism as only one in a myriad of equally profound theatrical styles, and developed a compendium of acting techniques, with “emotional memory” as the most capricious and least effective.