Theatre in Europe – The Stanislavsky System

Stanislawsky in Russian together with an expert interpreter? The start of this seminar is being inquisitively awaited by the participants. Mikhail Chumachenko of Moscow University of Fine and Performing Arts is directing this drama training course. The one-act play “The Bear” by Anton Chekhov is the base to his current workshop. To come straight to the point: this seminar should have deserved more attention, because within a minimum of time all participants were involved in the most concentrated work despite any language barrier. They discussed single details of the script, learned about unusual facts from life in Russia and Russian mentality, were astonished at aspects that they had never before reflected on, explored different emotional versions and even understood a few words in Russian after only three days. – And Mikhail was eager to learn German: “Jürgen? Cigarette break!”
In the beginning, the lecturer introduced the progress of drama starting from the 19th century. The dispute between “talking-acting-thinking-feeling” was discussed by the participants. Also, the statement: “live theatre like you would live life” was addressed by the group, thus regarding conflicts with historical changes.
Considering politics, nationality, current events, society and tradition as the basics to start an analyse …. continuing about social conditions, age, fate and experiences of the author, eventually forms the content of a play, a role or part of a play.
“Observe everything – hear everything – react to everything”. Mikhail made his students take this to heart. And he suggested the following most important principles when working with a script:
• Read the script without haste
• Ask many “stupid” questions, the more the better
• Don’t interpret the words, though decode the actions and their impact (active analyse)

This array of criteria and various exercises taught us to focus on various given conditions and circumstances. It also taught us to make use of different tempi in order to direct the audience’s attentiveness on one particular actor or it trained our sixth sense for our partner.
Provided with these impressions on the Stanislawski system and a glimpse on its advanced progress developed by Mikhail Chumachenko the participants were well-equipped for their projects to come!

Ingeborg Peter

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