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Person of the Week: Konstantin Stanislavski

Published: February 17, 2020

This week, our feature is Константин Станиславский (Konstantin Stanislavski), a Russian actor and director. Stanislavski is known for creating the Stanislavski system, a series of acting techniques designed to train an actor to maximally sympathize with and experience the feelings of the character that they play. Stanislavski’s system has had a lasting legacy in acting today, and has been adapted into the well-known ‘method-acting’ technique, which is used by many world-renowned actors. Stanislavski was born Konstantin Sergeievich Alexiev into a wealthy family in Moscow in 1863. He took the stage name ‘Stanislavski’ in order to hide his performing from his parents, whose wealth he secretly used to fund his theatrical ambitions. During his early years as an actor, he began to continue to act as his characters in his real life, in order to greater sympathize with these characters. These experiments served as the foundation for the Stanislavski system. Despite never receiving formal training, Stanislavski diligently studied the performances of some of the great actors of his day. He became well-known as an actor and eventually founded the Moscow Art Theater. The Moscow Art Theater put on the premieres of many of Anton Chekhov’s most famous plays, as well as the plays of Maxim Gorky and a number of other playwrights, both Russian and international. During his time at the Moscow Art Theater, Stanislavski began to really develop his method and created a number of satellite studios in order to explore more experimental works. After the 1917 revolution and the Civil War, the Moscow Art Theater traveled to Europe and the United States and put on many well-received productions abroad, planting the seeds for Stanislavski’s worldwide influence. Stanislavski went on to produce an actor’s manual both domestically and internationally. He died in August of 1938 at the age of 75 and is buried in Moscow.