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Realism's Effect On Chekhov And Stanislavsky, And Their Influence On Theatre Today

2546 words - 11 pages

Realism played a huge role in the lives of Anton Chekhov and Konstantin Stanislavsky. Both men made a huge impact on the world of theatre, and results are still seen today. Elements from Chekhov’s plays have influenced playwrights that came after him, like the works of Tennessee Williams, who listed that Chekhov had a huge impact on his writing. Stanislavsky’s acting system, based on acting truthfully, inspired many other acting systems that are still used today.
Realism was a huge movement in late 1800s to early 1900s. All art forms were influenced by it. Writers, artists, actors and more started taking a more simple direction and tried to depict life as it actually was. In visual art it was common to see ordinary people doing every day tasks, as opposed to elaborate paintings of holy and royal figures from the previous eras (Campell). In literature, the plots were simple and focused on common citizens of the lower and middle classes (Campbell).
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a realist writer, born in Taganrong Russia on January 29, 1860 to a poor family. Chekhov’s father provided for the family by working in a grocery store, where the children were also required to work. During Chekhov’s teenage years his father went bankrupt and the family relocated to Russia leaving Chekhov behind with relatives and working odd jobs to support his family. He received a scholarship from the Moscow University to study medicine, and began to write short, humorous stories for magazines to make money.
Realism captured “life as it actually is,” and Chekhov did this in his plays by having natural dialogue, relatable characters and situations that could happen in everyday life. This type of writing was revolutionary and “experimental” at the time because it strayed from the typical “melodrama that had dominated Russian theatre” and made a gateway for “a new style that stressed ensembles” (Western Classics Book). Chekhov himself said that his plays were “just as complex and just as simple” as real life (Western Classics).
Around the same time Chekhov was an upcoming author, The Moscow Art Theatre came about. Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko and Konstantin Stanislavsky founded the Moscow Art Theatre on June 22, 1897, during an 18-hour luncheon at the Slavyanski Bazar (The Stanislavsky Century). The two had set out to reform Russian theatre and had the common goal in mind to create great art. Before they set their rules and regulations into place, none officially existed. Actors would show up either drunk or late and not have their lines learned. Stanislavsky and Nemirovich wanted a place where there would be discipline and respect and great art, thus the Moscow Art Theatre was born (The Stanislavsky Century).
Konstantin Stanislavsky, himself, also practiced ideas of naturalism. He was a theatre practitioner and his roles served as actor and director, and he created the first acting method. He functioned as the artistic director of the Moscow Art Theatre. In A...

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