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Compare And Contrast Brecht And Stanislavski's Notions Of Acting And The Role Of The Actor In The Theatre

1728 words - 7 pages

Bertolt Brecht and Constantin Stanislavski are regarded as two of the most influential practitioners of the twentieth century, both with strong opinions and ideas about the function of the theatre and the actors within it. Both theories are considered useful and are used throughout the world as a means to achieve a good piece of theatre. The fact that both are so well respected is probably the only obvious similarity as their work is almost of complete opposites.Stanislavski was born in 1863 to a wealthy family who loved amateur theatricals. In 1898 he met Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko and they founded the Moscow Art Theatre. Stanislavski's work is centred on the notion that acting should be ...view middle of the document...

He sees the theatre as a tool to manipulate the audience, and to influence their day-to-day living once that have thought about issues raised during the performance.Stanislavski was very sure of the role of his actors within the theatre. The actors are there to create a real, emotional and truthful imitation of the character they are playing, and to be so life-like that they seem to become their character. He said that the"Purpose of our art is to create the life of a human soul and render it in an artistic form"Which is quite a clear illustration of the purpose or 'role' of stanislavskian actors. Stanislavski set out a way of preparing for a role so that the actor could fulfil his role of pure imitation. He started off by asking the actor to explore the character. He wanted to know what their objective was in each unit of action and what their super objective was. The super objective was the sum of all the units and their objectives. An Actor Prepares notes"In a play the whole stream of individual minor objectives, all the imaginative thoughts, feelings and actions of an actor, should converge to carry out the super objective of the plot"Once actors can find some direction or purpose (objective or super objective) then it is easier, according to Stanislavski, to immerse themselves in the character. He noted"You mustn't act 'in general', for the sake of action; always act with a purpose"To develop on this idea, Stanislavski used the notion of the 'Magic if' where an actor would ask, "what would I do if that were me? How would I react if that had happened to me?" and by doing this the actor would believe in what takes place on stage through the power of imagination. Stanislavski called it 'unconscious creativeness through creative technique'. He hoped that if an actor could really believe in their purpose, to the extent where they could feel it, they would have served their purpose of absolute reality and truth. All of these techniques amount to a pre-performance preparation, which Stanislavski believes help the actor carry out his role in the theatre. This is best summed up in An Actor Prepares when he states,"The actor creates his model in his imagination, and then, just as does the painter, he takes every feature of it and transfers it, not on to canvas but on to himself".Brecht's idea of the actor's role is very much different from Stanislavski's. Brecht saw the actor as tool to simply represent an archetype. Brecht didn't want the audience taken in by the actor's performance, he wanted to alienate them from the action so that they could judge the plays meanings rather than feel empathy with the characters. He called this the Verfremdungseffekt, which translated from German means the effect of a worldview. Up until Brechts revolutionary work, method acting was very common. Brecht quoted"Nowadays the plays' meaning is usually blurred by the fact that the actor plays to the audiences hearts. The figures portrayed are foisted on the audience and...

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