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Shirley, DG., 2018.

Stanislavski's System and the Director's Art in the Twenty First Century

Output Type:Chapter in a book
Publication:The Great Stage Directors: Stanislavski, Antoine, Saint Denis: Volume 1edited by Peta Tait for Bloomsbury Publishing
Publisher:Bloomsbury Books

Stanislavski's influence on theatre practitioners across the world throughout both the 20th and the 21st Century cannot be overestimated. The development of his 'System' and his quest for psychological depth and theatrical truth laid the foundations upon which contemporary understandings of the actor's craft have been established. But what of the director? To what extent, if any, have Stanislavski's methods served to influence the work of contemporary directing practice? How does his work speak to the great directors of today?

Through an examination of the rehearsal practice, interpretative techniques and production work of three highly acclaimed, but very different British theatre directors - Max Stafford-Clark, Declan Donnellan and Katie Mitchell - this chapter examines Stanislavski's influence on contemporary understandings of the role of the director and assesses how different approaches to and interpretations/derivations of his methodology serve to shape the work of the theatre director in the early part of the 21st Century. Commencing with an assessment of the importance of ensemble and embodied research in Stafford-Clark's work, the chapter moves on to examine Donnellan's disavowal of 'character' as well his highly experimental and imaginative interpretations of the classics. In the final section, the chapter traces Mitchell's remarkably innovative and scientific appropriation of Stanislavskian methodology, paying particular attention to her work on the 'biology of emotions' and her subsequent development of 'live-cinema'.