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Johnny Christmas | My Life in Art

My Life (The Art of the Novella series)

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In this section, consisting of 18 chapters, Stanislavski describes the beginnings of his work on formulating a "system" of teaching acting, which eventually led him to write his famous books on acting, which in English are called "", "" and "". These books make up volumes 2, 3 and 4 of Stanislavski's Complete Works, which is an 8-volume set, published in Russia in 1954. "My Life in Art" is, of course, the first volume. Stanislavski's "system" was built on a compilation of material he had gathered over the course of two decades of work in the theatre, and was in a great effort to find the answers his many unanswered questions about the nature of acting as an art form. Work on this system, according to Stanislavski, started during the 1906/07 season of the Moscow Art Theatre. He began by experimenting on himself and other actors during rehearsals for plays and ended up using the actual productions for his experiments in using new techniques, such as relaxation and concentration on stage. It was in this period that he developed his principles of the "magic if" (when actors asks themselves the question, "If I, as the character, were in a particular situation, what would I do?) and "a sense of truth" (a sense that actors must develop that allows them sense whether or not their words and actions are believable). But Stanislavski eventually came to the conclusion that the theatre was not the place for such experiments, as it distracted from much of the work that needed to be done. This conclusion led him to open up the first Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre, which still exists today. The section also describes some of the Moscow Art Theatre's productions of various plays, including 's "". He also talks about the and its effects on the Theatre. He ends the book with a chapter entitled "Conclusions and the Future", in which he discusses several of his conclusions about the art of acting and his "system", which as he states, consists of two parts: 1-an actor's internal and external work on himself ("An Actor Prepares"), 2- an actor's internal and external work on a role ("Building a Character" and "Creating a Role"). He ends by stating that he will divulge on this in his next book, which he does in the three volumes. Interestingly, having written those three volumes, he continued to reinvent his "system" and reformulate many of his opinions on acting. It seems as though he never found the answers to all of his questions. But he certainly got closer than most people before him and after. He laid the foundation for many of those who came after him, namely teachers like , , and , who passed on his legacy to the next generation of stage and film actors.

In the first chapter you discuss your earliest memory of color. Can you recall the moment when you realized you wanted to dedicate your life to art?
BM: The first chapter of the book is incredibly intense, and when I wrote it, I realized that at that age in my life, art was a safe haven for me, something I could do to feel more secure in the world. I didn't have one moment where I said I wanted to dedicate my life to art; I kept having various professional moments that led me forward, and I had to rely on my drive, work ethic, and trust that this was my path. I didn't have a lot of support at the time, and I think most people were not sure my gallery would succeed when it opened in 2001. The more I kept moving forward with it, the more I [knew] it was what I was truly meant to be doing professionally.

can still perceive some magic in my life everyday artwork by arkiane

  • My Life in Art
  • An Actor Prepares
  • Building a Character
  • Creating a Role

My life is art. Art is my life. - Jerry's Artarama