20th Century Theatre Essay

1. Who are the main playwrights of the realist period? The main playwrights of the realist period included Henri Ibsen, Swede August Strindberg, George Bernard Shaw, J. M. Synge, Sean O’Casey and Anton Chekhov. 2. Write two paragraphs about Stanislavski “The man”. Stanislavski was a young, ambitious actor who thriving to change the old, melodramatic style of acting in the Russian theatre. He founded the Moscow Art theatre in 1898 with the aim of making the theatre more real and believable.

Therefore, Stanislavski insisted that everything that happened on stage must appear to be realistic, so that the audience would be sitting and watching everyday life going on in that room without the people in it being aware of them. Stanislavski’s production on ‘The Seagull’ by Anton Chekhov was a major success and became world-famous, the beginning of a revolution in theatre. In 1889 Stanislavski married Lilina, who became a great actress in Moscow art theatre. In 1906, Stanislavski began to develop a system for training actors and in 1913 he set up the first studio.

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For the rest of his life, Stanislavski continued to work on his system for training actors as part of his total involved in theatre. In 1924 he published an autobiography called ‘My life in art’ in London. He suffered a heart attack whilst acting in Chekhov’s play and was forced to spend the rest of his life on only concentrating on directing, teaching and writing, producing three books describing his training and techniques for actors. He died in Moscow on 7 August 1938, leaving a strong influence to theatre today. . Stanislavski’s system is often referred to as “the method”. What was the aim of this system? Stanislavski’s aim is to train actors to be truly creative people, and the techniques he discovered through observation come naturally only to a real genius. He wanted to make sure that the actors believed everything that was happening on stage. They need to believe, so that acting a part becomes the extraordinary experience of living the life of another person. Stanislavski called this ‘Theatre if living Experience’.

Overall, the aim of the techniques of Stanislavski was to develop actors who had creative intelligence, complete self-discipline, perfect over their voices, diction and physical movement and the ability to create and experience the whole range of human motions. 4. Stanislavski system consisted of a number of techniques. In your own words briefly explain these techniques and their purpose and relate them to skills and exercise you have worked on in class. Techniques •Concentration This technique included having a high level of concentration both mentally and physically.

To obtain the technique Mrs Webb had told us to sit down and focus on a single spot, ignoring everything else. Mrs Webb then told us to widen our focus further and repeat it out loud, thus instead of just seeing a piece of paper on the wall, I widened my view it to see half the white board and the door. We then had widened our focus in the room until it eventually took in the whole room. Once we had done that, Mrs Webb had then asked one of us to repeat everything in the room. We had then learnt that this activity was about being totally aware of everything in the circle of attention while being oblivious to everything outside.

As another activity we had done for concentration Mrs Webb had written 10 words on the board and were only allowed 30 seconds to remember them and write them in order. Therefore this activity involved a lot of concentration as it was very hard for some to remember its order. • Voice-Voice was major factor contributing to effect of how an actor communicates. In class we were speared into pairs and each person was given a word such as knife and frol, bread and butter, blah and rhubarb. Within your pair you were to make a conversation with just the one word you both had been given.

My partner, Georgine and I were given the word Salt and pepper. We had decided to have a very tense and raging conversation. Therefore I would have a very high pitched and powerful voice that would vary tempo at times as I shouted out salt. And Georgine would have a quitter pitch as she tries to calm and reason me out. Stanislavski insisted that these voice exercise were essential to improve the actors diction, projection, resonance and expressiveness •Physical Skills- Physical skill involved exercise, mime work and dance to make actors more supple, graceful and strong. Physical movement and control were keys of cting. In class we were told to lie back and relax. We were then told to feel a strong emotion and let it engulf us. Once we feel the emotion overtake us, were told to stand up and express that emotion by one movement of our body. We were then given a variety of emotions and told only to express them through just one part of our body for example we were given anger and were told to express this through our arms. Therefore, Stanislavski wanted to show that we had a whole body to express emotion and perform a strong character without the help of facile expressions, •Emotion memory

This technique involved emotion memory, where you need to train actors to remember and experience a whole range of human feelings, in order for the actors to actually experience the emotion of the characters. In class we were told to think of a happy or exciting memory and perform it, mine would have to been playing a much loved game with my family at a favourite park of ours in Perth. Thus, once we had all discussed about our favourite memory, we learnt that by developing our emotions memories through constant practice, we will learn to put ourselves emotionally in another person’s place and experience what they are feeling. Observation Observation is a very important technique in order to learn more about people and their behaviour. Thus, the more they observed and read books, paintings and listened to music they learnt more and more. •Harmony Harmony involved the co-operation with other with complete commitment and sacrifice of your own ambitions and desires for the good of the whole group. In order to achieve these actors must make eye contact with each other and genuinely responding to the actions, words and emotions of the other actors. •Analysis

Analysis involved the ability to analyse human behaviour. His actors were required to study their characters in depth to work out what their super objectives (most vital motive or aim the actor is trying to achieve) were. The purpose of this made the characters understand why they behaved like this. Therefore, for very characters there would be a clear line of action running through the play, leading to the characters super objective. – walk like a old person •Creativity Creativity was a very simple question changed form ‘What if? to ‘Magic if? ’ This change of question took the actors out of everyday reality and into the creative world of imagination, where we then are able to project ourselves into different people and live in a whole new world of experiences and emotions that reality could never offer. Thus, by performing this with great skill and total commitment of their characters, all of them become completely involved in the imaginative reality of the play, making everything that they do real for the audience watching them. •Personalisation

The technique personalisation made sure that the actors were always in control of their creations, so that a part of their consciousness remained separate. Therefore, the actors would only be observing and directing the behaviour of the character. In order to achieve this actors had to use their emotions, observations and experiences to create a character and then become that person as completely as possible on stage. However, the actors manage to still be in complete control of their performance and return to being themselves as soon as the play was over.


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