Stanislavsky’s quest for the Ideal Actor: the System as Socratic encounter

Clare, Ysabel. 2016. Stanislavsky’s quest for the Ideal Actor: the System as Socratic encounter. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 7(2), pp. 148-164. ISSN 1944-3927 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper proposes that Stanislavsky’s creation of a fictional training journal addressed ‒ and to some extent transcended ‒ the problem of writing about practice, by presenting to the reader an accomplished dramatic narrative out of the Socratic tradition. Research comprising detailed analysis of the action outlined in the text has uncovered complex formal patterning of events evidencing underlying conceptual constructs. These are combined to say the unsayable. The paper outlines these concepts and strategies, exploring the patterns, sequences, and narrative devices embedded in the text to reveal a complex but integrated and coherent structure underlying the System and Stanislavsky’s articulation of it. The analysis raises questions about the implicit in training, whether in writing or in person. The text is neither record nor template, but evokes the implicit, communicating experience and embodied practice on the page through structural and narrative devices. In this reading, it is not the verbal exchanges but the dramatic action ‒ including the mistakes ‒ that actually comprises the essence of the Socratic dialogue: a quest to reveal the Truth in the form of the Ideal Actor through a gradual process of elimination, rooted in a Socratic philosophy of mutual exploration and discovery of essential truths.

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Theatre and Performance (TAP)


12 September 2016Published Online
12 April 2016Accepted

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Date Deposited:

03 Jan 2017 16:59

Last Modified:

13 Jun 2018 01:26

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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