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The journal of an aspiring animation filmmaker. Inspiration, Film Analysis, Animation Art, Student Work, Book Notes, Book Store, Composing Pictures, and much more!

Mar 26, 2009

Stanislavski: An Actor Prepares

Stanislavski is not something you should study if you are into cartoony animation only. If you are happy doing funny drawings, and zany cartoons without a lot of depth, you can learn enough about personality from other sources.

If you have ambitions of trying match swords with the greatest personality animation created, I think it's a must read. Here's my excerpts from the first of five Stanislavski books I have.

An Actor Prepares:

To arouse a desire to create is difficult; to kill that desire is extremely easy. If I interfere with my own work, it is my own affair, but what right have I to hold up the work of a whole group?

When the subconscious, when intuition, enters into our work we must know how not to interfere.

You may play well or you may play badly the important thing is that you should play truly...

...plan your role consciously at first, then play it truthfully...it cause your subconscious to work and induces outbursts of inspiration.

An actor is under the obligation to live his part inwardly, and then to give to his experience and external embodiment.

You must be very careful in the use of a mirror. It teaches an actor to watch the outside rather than the inside of his soul, both in himself and in his part.

...never allow yourself externally to portray anything that you have not inwardly experiences and which is not even interesting to you.

A role which is built of truth will grow, whereas one built on stereotype will shrivel.

Whatever happens on the stage must be for a purpose. Even keeping your seat must be for a purpose, a specific purpose, not merely the general purpose of being in the sight of the audience. One must earn one's right to be sitting there.

...showing yourself off takes you out of the realm of living art.

Frequently physical immobility is the direct result of inner intensity, and it's is these inner activities that are far more important artistically.

On the stage there cannot be, under any circumstances, action which is directed immediately at the arousing of a feeling for its own sake.

...all action in the theatre must have an inner justification, be logical, coherent, and real...if acts as a lever to lift us out of the world of actuality into the realm of imagination.

Once you have established this contact between your life and your part, you will find that inner push or stimulus. Add a whole series of contingencies based on your own experience in life, and you will see how easy it will be for you sincerely to believe in the possibility of what you are called upon to do on stage.

If you speak any lines, or do anything, mechanically, without fully realizing who you are, where you came from, why, what you want, where you are going, and what you will do when you get there, you will be acting without imagination. That time, whether it be short of long, will be unreal, and you will be nothing more than a wound-up machine, an automation.

...an actor must have a point of attention, and this point of attention must not be in the auditorium.

Talent without work is nothing more than raw unfinished material.

Nothing in life is more beautiful than nature, and it should be the object of constant observation.

Search out both beauty and its opposite, and define them, learn to know and to see them. Otherwise your conception of beauty will be incomplete, saccharine, prettified, sentimental.

I am not a census taker, who is responsible or collecting exact facts. I am an artist who must have material that will stir my emotions.

An actor must learn to recognize quality, to avoid the useless, and to choose essentially right objectives. (p. 118 list)

Everything that happens on the stage must be convincing to the actor himself, to his associates and the spectators. Each and every moment must be saturated with a belief in the truthfulness of the emotion felt, and in the action carried out, by the actor.

...an audience wished, above all, to believe everything that happens on the stage.

Now do you see to what extent of realistic detail you must go in order to convince our physical natures of the truth of what you are doing on the stage?

Wherever you have truth and belief, you have feeling and experience.

...in real life also many of the great moments of emotion are signalized by some ordinary, small, natural movement.

Arrive gradually, logically, by carrying out correctly your sequence of external physical actions, and by believing in them.

...when you are called upon to experience a tragedy do not think about your emotions at all. Think about what you have to do.

A host of lowly truths is dearer than fictions which lift us higher that ourselves.
-Pushkin

The people who talk most about exalted things are the very ones, for the most part, who have no attributes to raise them to high levels. They talk about art and creation with false emotions, in an indistinct and involved way. True artists, on the contrary, speak in simple and comprehensible terms. Think about this and also about the fact that, in certain roles, you could become a fine actor and a useful contributor to art.

Through conscious means we reach the subconscious.

Never lose yourself on the stage. Always act in your own person, as an artist. You can never get away from yourself. The moment you lose yourself on the stage mark the departure from truly living your part and the beginning of exaggerated false acting. Therefore, no matter how much you act, how many parts you take, you should never allow yourself any exception to the rule of using your own feelings. To break that rule is the equivalent of killing the person you are portraying, because you deprive him of a palpitating, living, human soul, which is the real source of life for a part.

An actor should use his art and his technique to discover, by natural means, those elements which it is necessary for him to develop for his part. In this way the soul of the person he portrays will be a combination of the living elements of his own being.

Never begin with results. They will appear in time as the logical outcome of what has gone before.

You should remember that you must constantly be adding to your store. For this purpose you draw, of course, principally upon you own impressions, feelings, and experiences. You also acquire material from life around you, real and imaginary, from reminiscences, books, art, science, knowledge of all kinds, from journeys, museums and above all from communication with other human beings. Do you realize, now that you know what is required of an actor, why a real artist must lead a full, interesting, beautiful, varied, exacting and inspiring life?

Feel your part and instantly all your inner chords will harmonize, your whole bodily apparatus of expression will begin to function.

To grasp the spiritual delicacy of a complex soul it is not enough to use one's mind or any one "element" by itself, It requires an artist's whole power and talent, as well as the harmonious co-operation of his inner forces, with those of the author.

The main theme must be firmly fixed in an actor's mind throughout the performance.

...the main line of action and the main theme are organically part of the play and they cannot be disregarded without detriment to the play itself.

Above all preserve your super-objective and through line of action. Be wary of all extraneous tendencies and purposed foreign to the main theme.

Every action meets with a reaction which in turn intensifies the first.

...the three most important features in our creative process:

(1) Inner grasp
(2) The through line of action
(3) The super-objective

(Page 282, bottom half)

...put your thought on what arouses you inner motive forces, what makes for your inner creative mood. Think of your super-objective and the through line of action that leads to it. In short, have in your mind everything that can be consciously controlled and that will lead you to the subconscious. That is the best possible preparation for inspiration.

My main objection, however, is to putting an actor in an impossible position. He must not be forcibly fed on other people's ideas, conceptions, emotion memories or feelings. Each person has to live through his own experiences. It is important that they be individual to him and analogous to those of the person he is to portray. An actor cannot be fattened like a capon. His own appetite must be tempted. When that is aroused he will demand the material he needs for simple actions; he will then absorb what is given him and make it his own. The director's job is to get the actor to ask and look for the details that will put life into his part.

An artist must have full use of his own spiritual, human material because that is the only stuff from which he can fashion a living soul for his part. Even if his contribution is slight, it is the better because it is his own.

Every real artist should make it his object, which he is on the stage, to centre his entire creative concentration on just the super-objective and through line of action, in their broadest and deepest meaning. If they are right all the rest will be brought about subconsciously, miraculously, by nature. This will happen on condition recreates his work, each time he repeats his part, with sincerity, truth and directness. It is only on that condition that he will be able to free his art from mechanical and stereotyped acting, from "tricks" and all forms of artificiality. If he accomplishes this he will have real people and real life all around him on the stage, and living art which has been purified from all debasing elements.

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