Stanislavski & Brecht : Performance Theory Essay

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Konstantin Stanislavski and Vsevolod Meyerhold are seminal figures within performance theory of the modern theatre, most notably for their individual development of systematic approaches to actor training during the turbulent period in Russia between 1898 and 1940. In a superficial comparison of Stanislavski and Meyerhold’s performance techniques they appear to be polarized opposites. Stanislavski established himself as a prominent figure in the modern theatre through his revolutionary investigations into psychology and its capacity to unite an actor with his character in order to produce psychological realism and emotional authenticity within performance; in contrast, Meyerhold approached performance from a more physiological…show more content…
The System advocates psychophysics as an effective method of actor training, providing a variety of psychological and physiological exercises that train actors in techniques that encourage an accurate representation of human experience on stage. Stanislavski’s approach to characterization is particularly revealing of his psychophysical method of actor training. He encouraged his actors to treat characters as psychologically complex individuals and founded his approach to characterization on the notion that their physical actions are fundamentally informed by their psychological motivations. This approach is referred to as an individualist centralization of character and reflects the changing political climate of Stanislavski’s contemporary Russia which shifted away from a system of monarchy following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and as a result saw an increased interest in expressing the concerns of the citizen or the individual in the arts. Stanislavski aimed to ‘portray the inner life of a human spirit in a part.[4]’ He professed that in order to present a realistic representation of a whole character, that is one of physical and emotional complexity, an actor must first engage with the characters psychology.[5] His method required actors to develop an empathetic relationship with their character through a creative process of psychoanalysis
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