Working from historical and archive material, as well as practical sources, Jonathan Pitches traces an evolutionary journey of actor training from the roots of the Russian tradition, Konstantin Stanislavsky, to the contemporary Muscovite director, Anatoly Vasiliev. The book explores two key developments that emerge from Stanislavsky’s system – one linear, rational and empirical, while the other is fluid,organic and intuitive. The otherwise highly contrasting acting theories of Vsevolod Meyerhold (biomechanics) and Lee Strasberg (the Method) are dealt with under the banner of the rational or Newtonian paradigm; Michael Chekov’s acting technique and the little known ideas of Anatoly Vasiliev form the centrepiece of the other Romantic, organic strain of practice.
Science and the Stanislavsky Tradition of Acting opens up the theatre laboratories of five major practitioners in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and scrutinises their acting methodologies from a scientific perspective.
Unravelling new strands of transmission and translation linking the great Russian émigré practitioners to the second and third generation artists who responded to their ideas, Russians in Britain takes in:
Komisarjevsky and the British theatre establishment.
Stanislavsky in the British conservatoire.
Meyerhold in the academy.
Michael Chekhov in the private studio.
Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop and the Northern Stage Ensemble.
Katie Mitchell, Declan Donnellan and Michael Boyd.
Charting a hitherto untold story with historical and contemporary implications, these nine essays present a compelling alternative history of theatrical practice in the UK.