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The Complete Stanislavsky Toolkit

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With the cast, crew and creative team seated in one large circle, the actors involved in a particular scene stand up inside the circle and ‘work through the scene on their feet’. Tina Packer herself has always argued that the function of the actor is to speak the unspeakable in the safety of the theatre; the catharsis of collective witnessing can heal both the speaker and the spectator. It then took about another four years I believe before she dared to do a whole production just using active analysis. PC: In your own personal experiences in Russia, how did Michael Chekhov develop Stanislavski’s ideas?

from the University of Birmingham, she has spent twenty years combining a professional acting career with teaching and writing. Indeed, Stanislavsky himself crossed literary genres, though – as I mentioned – he didn’t cross media: he didn’t work in film. Just like Stanislavsky in his later practices, Packer is not an auteur-director with a predetermined vision of a production.My whole experience in Russia was this profoundly embodied, imaginative, playful, anarchic, energetic experience. And of course the pause: Stanislavsky was insistent that ‘The actor always cheats you during moments of surging temperament. She then uses some of the cash to rent a room in a cheap motel, and for the first time in many years she takes herself out for the night.

Increasingly, I believe this is my role: to provide a safe space for my students to dare to put themselves in experientially different situations, as they explore their potential as psychophysical beings. There were no advertising hoardings, television commercials, newsfeeds, smartphones and tablets providing constant visual stimuli. Late in life he realized that physical actions can induce emotions just as much as the other way around. We never sat down with the script in the way that I had during my time at university or drama school. These discussions create a symbiotic, two-way process, whereby the layers of the onion are contrapuntally peeled away to reveal the play and added on to create the production.To which end, I found myself with Revolver Mind heavily drawing on Stanislavsky’s four pillars of relaxation, concentration, imagination and observation on the film set.

You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. The words and structures used by Shakespeare are far richer and more liberating than anything we could possibly think up ourselves. In other words, her staging of a production comes from deep witnessing of and listening to the whole team’s thoughts and discoveries. It is talked about all the time in An Actor Prepares but you won’t find it much in Benedetti’s translation – An Actor’s Work. At the same time – if they’re serious about an acting career – it’s our professional responsibility to prepare them for an increasingly cutthroat industry.Yes, actors do want their scripts at the start, they want it as a safety blanket, but I tell them that their partner is their safety blanket: “You’ll help each other, you’ll get there”. Indeed, Tina Packer – with her Anglo-American training – is a fervent believer that the structure of Shakespeare’s verse is in fact the liberator of big and passionate emotions and the safe container for the exploration of those emotions.

The image I use when I’m directing using Active Analysis is that the play is a trellis; my actors are the ivy, winding their way around the trellis; and as the director I’m the gardener. The games and exercises are revealing, and I had a really good time using them, and feeling how my body and mind responded to them. I’m also struck by the juxtaposition of opposites in the screen directions: while Jenny is in a panic, there’s also something methodical about her actions. And Kristin Linklater worked at NYU in the 1970s alongside the luminary, American trainer Peter Kass, whose teaching incorporated the profoundly psychological aspects of Stanislavsky’s ‘system’.In Part II, we move into a more subjective realm, as I continue pulling into focus my Anglo-Russian-American perspective on psychophysical acting and ‘the creation of the living word’. Then I had the opportunity in 1993 to go to Moscow and study at the State Institute of Cinematography.

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