In 1996 the Australian Screen Directors Association held a craft weekend in Melbourne in conjunction with the National Performers Conference. I suggested there be a session to discuss the 'pros and cons' of the Stanislavski process. The session was titled "Stanislavski or Not " and the three speakers were GEORGE WHALEY who is Head of the Directing Course at the Australian Film and Television School, dramaturg and actor NICO LITHOURIS and Head of Drama at the Victorian College of the Arts LINDY DAVIES.
Everyone took home strong, even inspiring, images from this discussion and my scant notes reveal in a rather plain way the thoughts that remained with me from this very lively debate which was a highlight of this conference. George reflected upon the fact that, "Any so-called system does not remain stationary - it changes every day" and Stanislavski himself was most significantly an on-going part of that change. There were now many interpretations of Stanislavski's work and they all "try to break down the body versus mind connection for the actor". The system be believed enabled "a succinct and to the point language" and was "not only applicable to naturalistic or realistic styles as Stanislavski himself liked melodrama".
In reflecting upon our interaction with history and also with the creative process George suggested that ultimately "There are no answers - just some really interesting questions".
Everyone in the room seemed to agree.
Nico's images are taut and
Inspiring trust in our own individual skills he pursued such thoughts as, "The path to true knowledge is one to be traveled alone" and that there was only one real goal - that of improvement. "Improvement is the essential".
He was also typically challenging,
insisting that there were only two components - you and the text.
Encouraging trust in ourselves he argued that "Playing the
character is a negative. The character is an illusion a fiction."
Everyone in the room agreed.
The director must, she said:-
And of rehearsal she said, from the actor's point of view "Speaking is difficult - rehearsal is the journey to the word."
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