The first practitioner I discovered was Konstantin Stanislavski. A Russian actor and director working from 1890 to 1920, Stanislavski was heavily involved in the Moscow Arts Theatre, and wrote books about the acting techniques which he employed.
I could go on about Stanislavski’s life and times, but you could find all that on Wikipedia. I could give you reams of detail into his books, but you could read them yourselves or find a synopsis online. Eg An Actor Prepares
This blog is about what happened towards the end of Stanislavski’s days…
Towards the end of his life, he began to question a lot of what he had previously committed to paper. He adapted over time and came to more fully understand the pros and cons of his techniques, where they excelled and where there were shortcomings.
I’ve studied many practitioners in my time, but it’s Stanislavski who stands out to me. Most other practitioners had nothing but absolute certainty in their own style. It was how theatre should be done, no ifs, no buts. Sure, there’s a lot of room for creative input in all of them, but executing them is where they are fixed. There’s nothing wrong with that; in fact I find it admirable that they had such strength in their convictions.
But Stanislavski changed; and that act, for me, invokes the nature of what theatre is about: change. I’m not the same actor I was 10 years ago. Nor am I the same person. What worked then, doesn’t work for me now. I’ve had to change. The people I work with have changed. Life changes. What doesn’t change grows stale and eventually dies. Hopefully, through Stanislavski’s will to change, his techniques and styles will still be relevant in years to come.