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iPOP Tips: A Guide to the Stanislavski Technique for Actors

There are many ways to develop your acting skills, some easier than others. The Stanislavski Technique, in particular, is an essential part of any well-rounded acting regimen. However, many upcoming actors don’t seem to know what it is and aren’t using it.


Here’s an overview of the Stanislavski Technique and how it could help with your acting career.

So, let’s get this show on the road.


What is the Stanislavski Technique?


The Stanislavski Technique is a method used in theatre to enhance physical strength, endurance, and coordination. It was first developed in 1865 by a Russian theatre director by the name of Konstantin Stanislavski. This technique involves actively considering what you are going to do in each situation, both verbally and non-verbally.



The aim is not to appear spontaneous or to display some kind of natural ability. Rather, the intention is to become immersed in the role—in its physical aspects and any dramatic or philosophical implications. Stanislavski was not concerned with specific skills, but with improving a person’s overall abilities in performance.


Since Stanislavski continued to work on his technique until he passed away, the technique does not seem to fit on a checklist. During his time, Stanislavski continued to refine his craft while coming up with new ideas. However, to water it down, we have the 7 basic techniques that make up the Stanislavski approach.



1. The Magic “If”

Stanislavski described the magic if as the ability to picture a character’s given circumstances enough to get an idea of how the character can do in any situation. This helps an actor to know how to respond since they understand where the character is coming from.


2. Given Circumstances

These are the finer details of your character. Mostly, given circumstances can be retrieved from script. They might include anything from the character’s background, their aspirations, the time and place of the play. Getting these specifics right is essential since it gives an actor a brief understanding of the actions a character might choose. For example, a character who grew up in an abusive home might result in violence at the slightest provocation.



3. Super-Objective

The super-objective describes the character’s main goal or motivation in the story. This represents the character’s backbone and is usually the thing they want most. The Stanislavski Technique ensures that the actor’s objectives align with the character.


4. Objective

The objective is the answer to “What does the character want?” The right and best answer involves playable action.




5. Communion

The Stanislavski Technique states that believable action is only believable to the audience when it is believably directed to the other actors. What this means is that you should aim to look, act, and sound believable to your fellow actors. Doing this captures more human truth, and the audience loves it.


6. Emotional Memory

Stanislavski gave his students the task of observing the emotional reactions of other people in their daily lives. By doing this, actors


develop emotional memory off-stage. And when used on-stage, it provides actors with strong believable feelings.


7. Subtext

Subtext simply means the words in the script. However, actors should look at the subtext from a different angle. The Stanislavski Technique encourages actors to try to understand why a character says specific words or why they act in a certain type of way. Actors know that the truth of the play is not in their words but in their subtext.


8. Physical Action

Stanislavski encouraged actors to build a character’s behavior using concrete, specific and performable actions. These actions are only achievable on stage.



Why Does the Stanislavski Technique Matter for Actors?


Stanislavski’s system of acting is the basis for all modern acting theories and remains relevant today. Actors need to itemize every aspect of their performances to deliver a more professional, effective, and efficient performance each time. And this is exactly what Stanislavsky’s techniques provide.


Because of his previous experience in professional acting, Stanislavski had a deep understanding of the human psyche, and this gave him a deep insight into the common needs of actors.



Therefore the technique remains to be the best system for learning. Used by actors in training around the globe, The Stanislavski Technique’s main principle focuses on the fact that a character must be understood psychologically to bring them to life on stage.


The Bottom Line




If you are willing to understand the way to develop your character and become a more convincing actor, studying the Stanislavski Technique is a sure-fire way to unlock most of your undeveloped skills while taking your training to the next level.

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