The Given Circumstances And The Magic If In The Stanislavski System

2921 words - 12 pages

The Given Circumstances and the Magic If in the Stanislavski System

One of the most fundamental principles of the Stanislavski system is
that an actor must always strive to achieve a sense of psychological
and inner truth. They must have a clear understanding of the internal
thoughts and emotions of their character, so that they are able to
think and act as the character would to any given situation. He also
believed that all action on stage should be done with a purpose, and
that an actor must be aware of the motivations of the character and
their overall objective with in a play, in order to make a performance
as truthful and believable as possible: "All action in theatre must
have inner justification, be logical, coherent, and real."

One of Stanislavski's ideas of how to achieve a sense of inner truth
is the use of the Magic 'If'. The magic 'if' introduces an idea or
situation to the actor, allowing them to imagine how they themselves
might act if the situation were actually true: "'If' acts as a lever
to lift us out of the world of actuality into the realm of the
imagination." By stimulating the imagination of an actor by using the
magic 'if' a sense of purpose is obtained, leading to more truthful
response. When an actor tries to reach a sense of inner truth with a
character, the magic 'if' can act as a link between the two by
transforming the aim of the character into the aim of the actor,
therefore giving them the potential to create sincere emotions. Whilst
performing on stage, an actor is obviously aware that everything
around them is false, however, he/she must ask themselves the question
'How would I behave ifeverything around me were true?' in order to
arouse "inner and real activity" by "natural means".

Another of Stanislavski's ideas, closely linked with the magic 'if' is
that when creating a role, an actor must have a good awareness of the
given circumstances of that role. The given circumstances are all the
specific details given to an actor to take into consideration as
he/she creates a role. They describe the situation in which the
character exists in terms of specifics and include a number of
details. The actor must look at the facts, such as plot, setting/place
(E.g. Formal, informal, public etc), events that occur, and character
details (E.g. personality and known character traits). He/she must
consider the time period or time of day in which the performance is
set, as well as show an understanding of the themes and issues raised
by a scripted or devised performance. It is also important that the
actor has an awareness of the aesthetic/technical aspects of the
performance such as set, costume, lighting, makeup and sound. Whilst
thinking about all of the given circumstances of a role with in a
performance, the actor must pose themselves a number of questions,...

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