chapter  2
15 Pages

Actor Training Meets Historical Thinking

ByJONATHAN CHAMBERS

A few years ago, I taught a beginning acting course at Bowling Green State University. As is typical in academic theatre departments, the primary course objective was to introduce students (both majors, putatively interested in careers in the theatre, and nonmajors, drawn from a variety of academic disciplines) to the “basic techniques of acting” such as they had presumably been set forth by Stanislavsky, and, in turn, reinterpreted, reconceptualized, and reorganized by others who followed.1 Although the students in my class were not required to read in translation Stanislavsky’s work (or for that matter, the primary texts by noted teachers of acting who worked in the tradition of Stanislavsky, such as Boleslavsky, Strasberg, Adler, and Meisner), they were asked to develop skills and, moreover, to identify, in the work of other performers, those skills that were fundamentally (albeit, perhaps, tacitly and/or indirectly) linked to the precepts of “the System.”