Category Archives: Constant Stanislavski


The charming delicacy of the scenic artist’s sketch is always uglified on the stage. . . . And no matter what the artist might do, he will never be able to conquer materiality and coarseness in stage scenery.

The theatre, and its scenery as such, is a convention, and cannot be anything else. (MLIA)


[Our] conscious laws [of acting] exist for the purpose of awaking another and higher superconscious region of creativeness. This latter is outside of our comprehension, and we are helpless in our consciousness when we attain it. It is ruled by inspiration. It is that miracle without which there can be no true art, and which is served by the conscious technique of the actor which I tried to establish.

THE SUPERCONSCIOUS THROUGH THE CONSCIOUS! That is the meaning of the thing to which I have devoted my life. . . . (MLIA)


It is only through a strongly developed outer and inner technique that one can reach . . . the complete concentration of one’s inner life on the stage, the ability to fire one’s passions and show it in its nakedness without theatrical methods and with the help of imagination and creative effort. This is the greatest demand that can be made of a great and finished actor. (MLIA)


(Laura Cappelle’s article appeared in The New York Times, 10/30; Photograph:  Kaori Ito in “The Damask Drum” during the abbreviated “A Week of Art in Avignon.” Credit…Christophe Raynaud de Lage; via Pam Green.)

Delayed from the summer, France’s biggest stage celebration was further curtailed as restrictions again hit the country. That made the moments of grace that were possible all the more powerful.

AVIGNON, France — Festivalgoers who cross the medieval ramparts of Avignon are used to being greeted with a riot of activity. Every July, thousands of posters cover the city’s walls to advertise stage productions as the official Avignon Festival and its Fringe compete for attention. Seemingly every street corner brings hopeful performers ready to pitch their work to passers-by, day and night.

Not this year. Like so many other events, France’s biggest theater celebration was canceled because of the pandemic, leaving the city and local businesses with a major revenue shortfall. As some consolation, the director of the festival, Olivier Py, rescheduled seven of the productions originally planned for the 2020 edition over a week in late October.

The name he picked for this surrogate festival had historical resonance: “A Week of Art in Avignon” was the event’s original moniker upon its inception in 1947. At the time, its founder, Jean Vilar, staged just three productions around the city. While many of this year’s attendees could be heard complaining about the dullness of Avignon in the fall, the low-key atmosphere was certainly much closer to Vilar’s vision than the juggernaut — over 1,500 Fringe productions were presented last year — that usually overwhelms locals.

Still, looking back, Py and his team are likely to curse their timing. With confirmed Covid-19 cases surging again in France, a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was announced in the region of Avignon the day before the Week of Art was to start. Like most theaters in Paris and other major cities, the festival opted to work around the regulations. All start times were simply moved forward by three hours, to allow audience members time to get home before curfew started.

It wasn’t enough for some shows. First, one production, Yngvild Aspeli’s “Moby Dick,” was canceled when a case of coronavirus was confirmed in the creative team. Then, midway through the week, the French government announced a new nationwide lockdown, meaning that the festival was cut short.

Yet some live shows did happen, across multiple venues in Avignon. Perhaps any review should include a mention of the herculean amount of planning, precautions and uncertainty that getting to the stage currently involves. Critics would be remiss to ignore the wider theater landscape: When an industry is fighting for survival, the aesthetic shortcomings of a lighting choice start to seem less consequential.

(Read more)


One must be a great connoisseur and specialist in our art to differentiate the work of every co-creator of a performance and to judge it at its real value. But the crowd meets the actor face to face during the performance, and therefore it is the actor alone who receives plaudits and encouragement. The other co-creators who hide in the wings of the theatre often remain forgotten by the audience. (MLIA)


It is easy to dream and create theories in art, but it is hard to practice them. It would seem that there is nothing simpler than naked passion and nothing else. But the simpler the thing is, the harder it is to do. The simple must have a great deal of content. Bare of content it is as useless as a nutshell without meat. The simple, in order to become the most important and move itself forward, must contain in itself the entire gamut of complex life phenomena. (MLIA)


I understood that on the stage truth is that in which the actor sincerely believes. I understood that even a palpable lie must become a truth in the theatre so that it may become art. For this it is necessary for the actor to develop to the highest degree his imagination, a childlike naivete and trustfulness, an artistic sensitivity to truth and to the truthful in his soul and body. All these qualities help him to transform a coarse scenic lie into the most delicate truth of his relation to the life imagined. All these qualities, taken together, I shall call the feeling of truth. (MLIA)