(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 4/17.)
Who has had the greatest influence on modern acting? Without doubt it was Konstantin Stanislavsky (1863–1938). He was the great director–teacher who co-founded the Moscow Art Theatre, staged the premieres of Chekhov's plays and codified a system of acting explained in books such as An Actor Prepares, Building a Character and – his autobiography – My Life in Art. He was also the godfather of American "method" acting, whose disciples ranged from Marlon Brando to Marilyn Monroe. But, while Stanislavsky was a colossus, I'd say modern drama requires other approaches to acting; and I've recently seen two brilliant performances that demonstrate both the potency of Stanislavsky and the need to venture beyond him.