The "system" fosters what Stanislavski refers to as the "art of experiencing" (to which he contrasts the "art of representation"). It uses the actor's conscious thinking and intention to sympathetically and indirectly trigger other, less controlled psychological processes (such as emotional experience and subconscious behavior). The system was developed through years of trial and error by its creator, the Russian theater director and teacher Mikhail Bakhtin. He proposed it as an alternative to the naturalistic method, which had become popular among actors in Europe after the success of Richard III by William Shakespeare in 1864.
In his book A Method for the Actor, Stanislavski states that his system is based on the idea that "an effective performance can be produced only when the actor knows and uses all his powers, both intellectual and emotional." He goes on to say that "the purpose of this system is to make each actor aware of those powers that he possesses but which, for some reason or another, he has failed to utilize until now."
So, the system aims to help actors consciously use their intellect and emotions to create a character study that will bring life to the text and the stage.
Stanislavski believed that without using our imagination we could not truly understand a script or scene because our minds would fill in the gaps between what is written/acted and what might actually happen.
Stanislavski's acting approach was founded on the "art of experiencing," in which performers use personal experiences, tales, and recollections to inform their portrayals. He believed that actors needed to discover and explore their own feelings about a character before they could convey those emotions on stage.
Stanislavski also advocated using naturalistic acting methods, such as physical expression and emotional truth. These principles formed the basis for many modern acting techniques, including Method acting.
Finally, he believed that actors should work closely with directors to create believable characters on stage. This collaboration between actor and director is known as "teamwork."
Stanislavski first developed his ideas while studying at the Moscow Art Theatre under the direction of Constantin Stanislavski's son, Vladimir. Upon returning to Russia, he established an acting school that taught students his techniques. His book An Actor's Work describes the process by which an actor can transform himself into any given character.
It also includes detailed exercises that help actors understand human behavior through the use of imaginary situations.
Stanislavski's method attracted many famous artists and musicians, including Eleanora Rizzi, Dmitri Mitropoulos, and Sergei Diaghilev.
Because it was based on how our minds operate, Stanislavski's "System" was heavily impacted by psychology. Stanislavski researched the work of Ribot, a well-known psychologist. He discovered the concept of influenced memory here, which subsequently evolved into emotion memory. Stanislavski also identified the importance of imagination in theatre.
He defined the role of an actor as that of a psychological type. Thus, his system was first and foremost designed to help actors understand their own minds and learn to control them on stage.
Secondly, he wanted actors to create their own roles by developing their individuality.
Finally, he believed that true art can only be achieved through self-expression.
These three principles formed the basis for everything that would follow in the development of the acting craft.
More specifically, they are as follows:
1 Understanding one's own mind (the study of psychology)
2 Creating one's own characters (developmental therapy)
3 Expression of oneself (artistic freedom)
Stanislavski wrote a number of books describing his ideas on acting, the most famous of which is An Actor's Work. The book focuses mainly on mental techniques used by actors to develop their skills and provide inspiration for their work.
Suler taught the fundamental parts of Stanislavski's technique until his death in 1916: relaxation, focus of attention, imagination, communication, and emotional memory. He also introduced a number of innovations of his own, such as using acting exercises with objects such as stones or bones to develop characters' physical qualities.
Stanislavski developed Suler's ideas into a complete system for actor training that included psychological analysis of character types, study of human behavior in history and literature, practice with the aid of role models, laboratory studies of the mind in action, and more. The main goal was for actors to understand their minds and bodies so they could create believable characters on stage.
He started publishing articles about theater in Russian newspapers in 1898, and then founded his own journal, The Theatre (Teatr) in 1903. This became the leading authority on Stanislavski's work and is still published today.
In addition to writing books and articles, Stanislavski designed many instruments used by students of his method. These include the emf machine, which records voices on magnetic tape; the photo-elastic test, which measures how much stress an object experiences when it is pulled; and the semitone scale, which determines the key of a song by how it sounds to the ear.
Naturalism is a type of theater that attempts to create a flawless illusion of reality by employing a variety of dramatic and theatrical tactics. As an actor, Stanislavski witnessed a lot of awful acting, which he labeled "artificial." This entails disclosing the actor's true inner life, such as recollections. The objective is not only to reveal but also to understand the character's feelings.
Artificiality can be caused by a lack of understanding of the human psyche or by mere intent to deceive. For example, an actor might disclose his own thoughts and feelings during a difficult moment on stage to help the audience understand the character's pain more deeply. This act is called "emotional memory-keeping."
Naturalness can be achieved only through personal experience and study of humanity. An actor cannot simply fake being real by using makeup and costumes; rather, he must know what makes people tick so that his acting isn't seen as artificial anymore but instead becomes part of its own genre - authentic theater.
Throughout his career, Stanislavski was a staunch supporter of realism. Naturalism is frequently used to refer to the same concepts, but it may also refer to the view that a person's character is shaped by what they receive from their family and environment.
Prior to Stanislavski, the theatre was chaotic, and the actors looked to have little regard for their craft. Star actors wielded ultimate authority in plays, although frequently having a relatively restricted repertory.
Prior to Stanislavski, acting was considered as a trade requiring voice and gesture instruction. The actor's task was to bring the text's emotions to life in a wide explanatory manner. In American theatre schools, teachers would adapt and expand on Stanisvlaski's methods and concepts.
Stanislavski wanted to free the art of acting from rhetorical limitations by focusing on the psychological processes underlying human behavior.
He proposed a system that could help an actor understand what were the origins of his or her feelings and then communicate those emotions through speech and body language.
This system included eight method exercises that an actor should perform to improve his or her skills: improvisation, soul-searching, emotional memory, analysis of role models, creative empathy, objective observation, and experimental work with dolls and puppets.
These methods can be used separately or together. For example, an actor can first do an improvisational scene with a partner and then use his or her understanding of emotion from this exercise to analyze a role model or create a character based on someone he or she knows.
The aim of this system is that an actor will become more self-aware and therefore be able to express himself or herself better on stage. This will make audiences feel more connected to the character being portrayed and thus have more enjoyment from the performance.