Category Archives: Constant Stanislavski

CONSTANT STANISLAVSKI (166) ·

The words and wisdom of Constantin Stanislavski:

Ask an actor, after some great performance, how he felt while on the stage, and what he did there. He will not be able to answer because he was not aware of what he lived through, and does not remember many of the more significant moments. All you will get from him is that he felt comfortable on the stage, that he was in easy relationship to the other actors. Beyond that, he will be able to tell you nothing. (AP)

BEHRMAN GETS SERIOUS: ‘NO TIME FOR COMEDY’ OPENS AND CONFRONTS CRISIS (A DAY IN THEATRE) ·

S.N. Behrman, the king of witty social comedies like “Biography” and “Second Marriage,” took a sharp turn with “No Time for Comedy” which premiered on April 17, 1939. Hailing from Worcester, Massachusetts, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, Behrman was known for his insightful and often hilarious plays dissecting the lives of New York’s upper crust.

“No Time for Comedy” shattered expectations. The play starred the renowned Laurence Olivier as Gaylord Easterbrook (opposite Katharine Cornell), a successful Hollywood director wrestling with a script for a frothy comedy. Entertaining audiences was Easterbrook’s forte, but the world around him is on the brink of war. News of Nazi aggression in Europe casts a long shadow, forcing Easterbrook to confront the frivolity of his chosen profession. The play’s humor, once Behrman’s trademark, becomes laced with a sense of unease. Witty banter gives way to serious discussions about the purpose of art in a world facing catastrophe.

This tonal shift is deliberate and jarring. Imagine a scene where Easterbrook cracks a joke about a temperamental actress, only to be interrupted by a telegram detailing the horrors unfolding in Europe. The laughter dries up, replaced by a sense of impending doom. Behrman doesn’t shy away from this discomfort. He uses it to highlight the absurdity of clinging to normalcy when the world is falling apart.

The underlying seriousness of the play lies in its exploration of artistic responsibility. Can a director, in good conscience, churn out lighthearted fare while the world burns? Should art offer escape or act as a mirror reflecting the turmoil of the times? These questions resonate deeply with audiences, especially in our own era of social and political upheaval.

“No Time for Comedy” enjoyed a respectable run on Broadway, opening on April 17, 1939 and closing in June of the same year after 80 performances. Despite its shorter run compared to some of Behrman’s comedies, the play’s impact transcended box office numbers. It marked a turning point in Behrman’s career, showcasing his ability to tackle weighty themes without sacrificing his signature wit. More importantly, it sparked a conversation about the role of art in a world facing crisis, a conversation that continues to this day.

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CONSTANT STANISLAVSKI (165) ·

The words and wisdom of Constantin Stanislavski:

(For a role) add a whole series of contingencies (using the idea of if ), based on your own experience in life, and you will see how easy it will be for you sincerely to believe in the possibility of what you are called upon to do on the stage.

Work out an entire role in this fashion, and you will create a whole new life.

The feelings aroused will express themselves in the acts of this imaginary person had he (or she) been placed in the circumstances made by the play. (AP)

 

CONSTANT STANISLAVSKI (164) ·

The words and wisdom of Constantin Stanislavski:

To achieve . . . kinship between the actor and the person (he/she) is portraying add some concrete detail which will fill out the play, giving it point and absorbing action. The circumstances which are predicated on if are taken from sources near to your own feelings, and they have a powerful influence on the inner life of an actor. Once you have established this contact between your life and your part, you will feel that inner push to stimulus. (AP)

CONSTANT STANISLAVSKI (159) ·

The words and wisdom of Constantin Stanislavski:

The false acting of passions, or of types, or the mere use of conventional gestures,—these are frequent faults in our profession. But you must keep away from these unrealities. You must not copy passions, or copy types. You must live in the passions and in the types. Your acting of them must grow out of your living in them. (AP)