The Stanislavski System: Acting in the 21st Century

Dr. Kenneth Stilson
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It has been said that acting is the process of giving birth to a human soul through art. But if everything on stage is nothing more than invention — a lie — how can an actor find truth there? The stage is filled with mere imitations of life — all lies. How can actors believe where no truth exists? How do great actors, night after night, create the most complex characters ever conceived? And how do these stage events appear as if happening for the first time? Are some actors merely inspired to greatness? From where do their creations come? How do gifted actors know what will happen next and yet their characters do not know? During his life in art, Constantin Stanislavski became obsessed with discovering this mystery of inspiration. Is great acting only limited to those who are gifted enough to summon inspiration upon demand? Are there no technical means for the manufacturing of art, the "craft of creation", so that this inspiration may appear more often than not?

Actors cannot create inspiration by merely artificial means. That is impossible. Rather, Stanislavski created a favourable condition for the appearance of inspiration by means of the will. He produced a positive environment for the inception of artistic stimulation during the creation and performance of a role. For stage characterization and behaviour which appeared as spontaneously and naturally as in real life, he designed a "system" of actor training that is as relevant to twenty-first century actors trying to establish a career on stage or in film or television as it was to actors one hundred years ago.

Keywords: Acting; Stanislavski System; Actor; Performing Arts; Theatre; Theater; Stage; Television; Film; Art; Artist
Stream: Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Stanislavski System, The

Dr. Kenneth Stilson

Chair, Department of Theatre and Dance, Southeast Missouri State University

Dr Kenneth L. Stilson, a 1979 serves as Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Southeast Missouri State University. Dr Stilson is co-author (along with the Larry D. Clark and the late Charles McGaw) of the 8th and 9th editions of the classic text, Acting Is Believing. A book of international renown in the field, Acting Is Believing has introduced the Stanislavski system of acting to many generations of actors. Dr Stilson previously published a critically acclaimed biography of Ezra Stone (radio's Henry Aldrich) and several articles on theatre and dance and wrote an award-winning play, Where the Lilies Grow. Prior to coming to Southeast Missouri State University, Dr Stilson was the Founding Artistic Director of Alabama Lyric Theatre and former Artistic Director of Shakespeare in the Park in Ft. Worth, TX. As a professional actor, director, writer, and/or administrator, he has also worked in such theatres as the Lincoln Center (NYC), American Academy of Dramatic Art (NYC & Hollywood, CA), Southern Repertory Theatre (New Orleans), Cultural Arts Center (Florida), Le Petit Theatre de Vieux Carré (New Orleans), University of Missouri Summer Repertory Theatre, Oklahoma Shakespearean Festival, and the Mississippi Shakespeare Festival. He holds both a Ph.D. and M.A. in Theatre from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a B.A. in Theatre from Southeast Missouri State University.

Ref: H05P0652