“From Stanislavski with Love”

“Create your own method. Don’t depend slavishly on mine. Make up something that will work for you! But keep breaking traditions, I beg you”. Constantin Stanislavski

Konstantin Sergeievich Stanislavski (5 January 1863 – 7 August 1938) was a Russian actor and theatre director.

Constantin Stanislavski reads Chekhov’s The Seagull, 1898

The eponymous “Stanislavski method” or simply “method acting” has had a pervasive influence especially in the period after World War II.

Stanislavski treated theatre-making as a serious endeavour, requiring dedication, discipline and integrity. Throughout his life, he subjected his own acting to a process of rigorous artistic self-analysis and reflection.

Increasingly interested in “living the part,” Stanislavski experimented with the ability to maintain a characterization in real life, disguising himself as a tramp or drunk and visiting the railway station, or disguising himself as a fortune-telling gypsy; he extended the experiment to the rest of the cast of a short comedy in which he performed in 1883, and as late as 1900 he amused holiday-makers in Yalta by taking a walk each morning “in character”.

Stanislavski’s work draws on a wide range of influences and ideas, including his study of the modernist and avant-garde developments of his time (naturalism, symbolism and Meyerhold’s constructivism), Russian formalism, Yoga, Pavlovian behavioural psychology, James-Lange (via Ribot) psychophysiology and the aesthetics of Pushkin, Gogol, and Tolstoy. He described his approach as ‘spiritual Realism’.


“Stanislavski uses the theatre and its technical possibilities as an instrument of expression, a language, in its own right. The dramatic meaning is in the staging itself ” Ludwig Chronegk

Stanislavski’s ‘system’

Systematic approach to training actors. Areas of study include concentration, voice, physical skills, emotion memory, observation, and dramatic analysis. Stanislavski’s goal was to find a universally applicable approach that could be of service to all actors.

Stanislavski’s ‘system’ focused on the development of artistic truth onstage by teaching actors to “experience the part” during performance. Stanislavski hoped that the ‘system’ could be applied to all forms of drama, including melodrama, vaudeville, and opera. He organised a series of theatre studios in which young actors were trained in his ‘system.’ At the First Studio, actors were instructed to use their own memories in order to express emotion.

“Our demands are simple, normal, and therefore they are difficult to satisfy. All we ask is that an actor on the stage live in accordance with natural laws”. Constantin Stanislavski

Maria Andreyeva worked with Konstantin Stanislavsky at the Moscow Art Theatre.

Stanislavski soon observed that some of the actors using or abusing this technique were given to hysteria. He began to search for more reliable means to access emotion, eventually emphasizing the actor’s use of imagination and belief in the given circumstances of the text rather than her/his private and often painful memories.

Stanislavski wrote several works, including ‘An Actor Prepares’, ‘An Actor’s Work on a Role’, and his autobiography, ‘My Life in Art’.

From Russia with Love is the second film in the James Bond film series, and the second to star Sean Connery as Bond. Released in 1963 in the UK. It was written by Richard Maibaum and Johanna Harwood and was based on Ian Fleming’s fifth Bond novel of the same name.

James Bond is sent to Istanbul on a mission to obtain a highly sought-after Lektor decoder device from stunning Russian defector Tatiana Romanova, but the spy’s predicament is actually a ruse devised by crime cartel SPECTRE as an attempt to gain revenge for his previous killing of their operative, Dr. No.

In his 1986 book, Danny Peary described From Russia with Love as “an excellent, surprisingly tough and gritty James Bond film” which is “refreshingly free of the gimmickry that would characterise the later Bond films, and Connery and Bianchi play real people. We worry about them and hope their relationship will work out … Shaw and Lotte Lenya are splendid villains. Both have exciting, well-choreographed fights with Connery. Actors play it straight, with excellent results.”

“Young actors, beware of your female admirers! Make love to them, if it amuses you, but do not discuss art with them! Learn in time to listen to, to understand and love the bitter truth about yourselves! And get to know those who can tell it to you. It is with them that you should discuss art”. Stanislavski

3 thoughts on ““From Stanislavski with Love”

  1. Pingback: An Introduction to Influences on Michael Chekhov’s Technique | In Kara's World

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