FILM & PERFORMANCE
The influence of the theories and practices of Russian actor and director Konstantin Stanislavski has had an indelible influence on American film acting for the last fifty years.
In the late 19th century, Stanislavski fused his frustration with conventional stage acting craft and his interest in the developing science of psychology. Based on his experience and observation, most actors’ movements and gestures were rendered on stage devoid of any “inner life” and hence, the performances seemed unrealistic and false. The new plays being written by playwrights Anton Chekhov, August Strindberg, and Henrik Ibsen demanded a new type of actor … an actor able to convey subtleties and truths within and of characters never before explored on stage. A reversal from working from “the outside … in” to working from “the inside … out” was the major tenet Stanislavski’s new system. The results were remarkable and a new era was born in the theater,
Stanislavski’s work with the
The four most influential actor/teachers from the Group Theater (for the purposes of this course) were Stella Adler, Elia Kazan, Sanford Meisner, and Lee Strasberg. A majority of the actors seen in the films we will view this semester were trained by at least one of these people, and in some cases, by two or three. All had different approaches to interpreting Stanislavski’s system, so much so, that contention and rivalry existed among of few of these people.
After the demise of the Group Theater in the 1940s, all four of these people went on to form or lead acting schools where many of the most notable actors of our time studied their craft. These include The Actors Studio, The Neighborhood Playhouse, the Stella Adler Conservatory, and Lee Strasberg Institute.
It is important to note another leading proponent of the
Stanislavski system – Uta Hagen.
Konstantin Stanislavski biographical info
A history of The Group Theater
Meisner Technique Overview
A List of Meisner alumni (scroll through graphic at top of page)
Elia Kazan biographical info
More info on Elia Kazan
Lee Strasberg biographical info
Stella Adler biographical information
A List of Adler alumni
Stella Adler Technique Overview
Uta Hagen’s Technique Overview