With his insights into acting and directing, Konstantin Stanislavski forged a definitive position in the development of 20th-century theatre, laying the groundwork for innovators such as Grotowski. Subjects Practitioners Commentators. Back to top.
If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order. Practitioners Stanislavski, Konstantin. In which Prof. Read more. A moment of comedy is reached at the end of the dialogue, when Nina arrives, Kostya leaps up from the bench and Sorin almost falls off, having clung on for dear life throughout the exchange. As Kostya loses his emotional balance, Sorin almost loses his physical balance.
Their objectives vividly contradict each other, creating — as a result — exciting, detailed action. It is the same in Act 2, when Trigorin has his long speeches to Nina about playwriting. Nina Nina Kon. Nina Nina Sorin Kon. Seat Nina Kon. Figure 3. Note the dance-like movements between Konstantin and Nina, with Sorin and his hat remaining at the Down-Stage-Centre bench until the last moment This may be because Stanislavsky was going to play Dorn at one point and then he took the part of Trigorin. Perhaps he considered it unnecessary to give himself stage directions.
Shamrayev becomes a bassoon-like buffoon, who, at inappropriate moments, honks the bass notes. In the pause during which the other characters listen, somewhat haunted, Shamrayev leaps on a tree stump and starts conducting. Cleverly, Stanislavsky allows a moment of melancholy stillness — obviously intended by Chekhov, who inserted a pause Chekhov 14 — but he instantly undercuts the latent sentimentality with the brusque humour of the estate manager.
This effect not only creates atmosphere but also takes the spectator on a particular emotional journey. No one stirs. The only sounds are the distant singing of the peasants, the croaking of the frogs and the cry of the corncrake. Another pause of ten seconds. The audience are being catapulted between the inner world or microcosm of the characters, and the outer world or macrocosm of Russia. Within this opening exchange, Stanislavsky has incorporated a number of physical activities for characters, which reveal their underlying tensions.
Although the counterpoint of Sorin and Masha is provided by Chekhov in the text, Stanislavsky carefully directs the actress playing Masha through a series of adapting tempo-rhythms to gain the maximum comic potential. Songscapes At several points throughout the production plan, Stanislavsky indicates that characters sing. The exchange between Dorn and Polina is larded with comic frustration, endorsed by the bizarre picture of Dorn doing his gymnastic exercises. By distracting himself from the conversation like this, he seems to behave like an annoying child, refusing to engage with the adult conversation that Polina is anxious to pursue.
Although cinema was in its infancy at the time that Stanislavsky composed his production plan, many of his ideas illustrate the way in which he explored the same kind of intimate contact that on-screen close-ups can allow. Throughout these two encounters, Stanislavsky 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 makes references to eye contact. Eventually, she turns her back on him, thereby avoiding eye contact altogether. As we have already touched upon in Chapter 1, it was quite common for actors to present most of their performance Down-StageCentre and directly out to the audience.
Facial expressions change, and eye contact varies in intensity: Stanislavsky draws the audience in, so that they can watch human interaction under a microscope. Comparing the two encounters between Kostya and Nina, and Nina and Trigorin also highlights the way in which Stanislavsky explored spatial dynamics.
Although the majority of illustrations in his production copy are ground plans of the stage, from time to time he embellishes his stage directions with sketches of the characters. See Figure 3.
So, an implement of death the gun is placed between them along with a dead seagull; at the same time, a status game is being played, with Kostya above Nina in terms of height. The dead seagull lies between them b Trigorin leans against the hammock, nonchalantly, while Nina looks up at him 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Figure 3. Then a little later, he crosses to a seat Down-Stage-Right, and Nina sits herself on a cushion at his feet.
The fact that Stanislavsky chooses to provide sketches of these two exchanges demonstrates that he wanted these spatial and pictorial comparisons to be made by the audience, either consciously or subconsciously. Now they are on equal footing: they have both understood that they are in love with each other, although between them still lies the macabre body of the dead seagull, like a fateful totem.
Images of eyes and seeing permeate the production plan. And yet he was constantly haunted by a sense of selfdoubt. The danger is that it might produce a rather ridiculous effect. Should we try it? These doubts simply reinforce the fact that The Seagull was successful almost in spite of itself. The interior of a room is shown, complete with parrot in cage, and yet it is all presented on an angle, enhancing the feeling that we are watching a slice of life rather than a neatly prepared box set for a play.
During his lifetime, Stanislavsky was often ridiculed by fellow practitioners not least of whom was Chekhov himself for his enthusiastic love of sound effects. His argument was that, paradoxically, we can hear silence much more acutely through the use of sound: the simplicity of the clock ticking suggests the chilling calm before a storm.
These details of set and sound remind us of the Naturalist movement of which Stanislavsky was a part.
As stressed already, a crucial component of Naturalism was the role that heredity and environment played in the development of an individual. At the beginning of Act 3, Stanislavsky gives Masha a simple physical gesture which links her back to Dr Dorn in Act 1. Therefore, juxtaposed with her quiet thoughtfulness is her brusque coarseness. Does it all with assumed gaiety, with the devil-maycare air of a student.
One arm akimbo, like a man, clinks glasses energetically, also like a man. Masha empties her glass at one gulp and has a bite of something she eats noisily , then slaps Trigorin on the back.
Leaning with her elbows on the table, bends over towards Trigorin. Just as we saw at the top of Act 2, he was eager to give as much attention to the minor characters as to the principal roles, in order to encourage a style of ensemble acting.
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The second intention is the way in which he sets up a very clear relationship between the actress playing Masha and the props with which she works. These naturalistic details also serve to undercut any sentimentality that might lie in the text. In other words, Stanislavsky cunningly provides the actress with a vigorous, practical, physical activity while her text is poetic and imaginative.
Subtexts and pauses As Masha exits, Nina enters. Following the plan established in Act 2, the close-ups of eye contact are once again put under the microscope in her exchange with Trigorin. More interesting at this point is the use of the pause. The ideal moments in which subtext can be articulated are pauses. At the point in this dialogue where Trigorin reminds Nina of the dead seagull, Chekhov has inserted a pause.
As an illustration of how dramatic pauses are never just empty silences, Stanislavsky provides an extensive stage direction. She stands with her back to him in silence, as Trigorin raises her caught hand to kiss it.
This is a moment of decision for her. Arkadina stops eating, she frowns, she thinks, she plays with her knife. She stops eating again. She shakes her head slowly. She starts eating vigorously. She then buries her face in a napkin and remains sitting motionless. It should be played in a way to convince the audience that Sorin is dying.
That would greatly heighten the suspense of the audience and its interest in what is taking place on the stage.
An early Method of Physical Actions The constant interplay between big emotions and physical activities continues through Act 3 into the dialogue between mother and son surrounding the head-bandaging. After all the attention mother pays son, Kostya rips off the dressing and hurls it at her. In many ways, this is another early form of the Method of Physical Actions, in that Stanislavsky takes the actors from simple practical tasks through to psycho-physical gestures combining seething inner emotions with rapid physical actions. The sequence, or score, of physical actions builds to a crescendo in proportion to her inner emotions.
There is a wonderfully ironic moment at the end of the dialogue, when Trigorin arrives and Kostya runs out. Playing with genre From time to time in his production plan, Stanislavsky reveals his awareness that he was playing with dramatic forms as much as exploring new avenues of staging. This is a sophisticated metatheatrical device, in which the actress playing Arkadina is exploiting various dramatic forms in order that the character of Arkadina can reach her psychological objective.
It is particularly worth noting in this section the way in which Stanislavsky personalises the ensemble. The character of the maid until this point unmentioned is shown to be wonderfully spunky, being the only one not to bow low to Arkadina, but, rather, being pictured 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 looking displeased. Another maidservant in the crowd has a baby who starts to cry, thereby adding to the cacophony of farewell frenzy.