Tracing the impact of Stanislavski's system on Strasberg's method

Van Heerden, Emerentia Eletitia (2007-12)

Thesis (MDram (Drama))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


This thesis explores the development of the Stanislavski system and the elements that influenced the growth of his theories and their impact on Strasberg’s work. In other words, the thesis has an explicitly historical orientation, and is not intended as a training manual for contemporary actors. It describes the many challenges Stanislavski faced in trying to change the conditions actors worked under and the quality of acting in the Russian theatre of his day. It discusses how certain theatre practitioners influenced him and the development of his system, which he saw as more of a helpful guide in moments of difficulty concerning the acting process and process of creation of a character. It further discusses Stanislavski’s relationship with Anton Chekhov, along with his learning experiences while working with actors at the Moscow Art Theatre. The thesis then discusses the impact of Stanislavski’s approach on Strasberg’s method. This includes tracing how Stanislavski’s system travelled to America and how it came to be introduced to Lee Strasberg. It then follows Strasberg’s learning experience at the American Laboratory and how he adapted and applied what he learnt there of the Stanislavski system into the Americanized version known as ‘The Method’ that he used while involved with The Group Theatre from the 1930s and later in The Actors Studio and his private classes from 1949 onwards. The thesis concludes with commentary on, and critiques of, Stanislavski’s system and Strasberg’s method from students who studied under them, fellow actors and their fellow theatre practitioners and contemporaries.

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