VERSHININ. Yes... [laughs]. How very strange it all is, really! [a pause] When the fire began I ran home as fast as I could. I went up and saw our house was safe and sound and out of danger, but my little girls were standing in the doorway in their night-gowns; their mother was nowhere to be seen, people were bustling about, horses and dogs were running about, and my children's faces were full of alarm, horror, pleas for help, and I don't know what; it wrung my heart to see their faces. My God, I thought, what more have these children to go through in the long years to come! I took their hands and ran along with them, and could think of nothing else but what more they would have to go through in this world! [a pause] When I came to your house I found their mother here, screaming, angry. [MASHA comes in with the pillow and sits down on the sofa.] And while my little girls were standing in the doorway in their nightgowns and the street was red with the fire, and there was a fearful noise, I thought that something like it used to happen years ago when the enemy would suddenly make a raid and begin plundering and burning... And yet, in reality, what a difference there is between what is now and has been in the past! And when a little more time has passed -- another two or three hundred years -- people will look at our present manner of life with horror and derision, and everything of today will seem awkward and heavy, and very strange and uncomfortable. Oh, what a wonderful life that will be -- what a wonderful life! [Laughs] Forgive me, here I am airing my theories again! Allow me to go on. I have such a desire to talk about the future. I'm in the mood [a pause]. It's as though everyone were asleep. And so, I say, what a wonderful life it will be! Can you only imagine? Here are only three of your sort in the town now, but in generations to come there will be more and more and more; and the time will come when everything will be changed and be as you would have it; they will live in your way, and later on you too will be out of date -- people will be born who will be better than you... [laughs]. I am in such a strange state of mind today. I have a fiendish longing for life. [sings]. Young and old are bound by love, and precious are its pangs... [laughs]. (3 Sisters, Act III)

Acting Index Thr w/Anatoly * Directing *




But first, some notes for directors (both stage and film) and Playscript Analysis class.

Biomechanics, Stage-Metrics and the Screen

(Students in acting classes 121, 221 might skip it and go for the part II. ACTING FOR THE CAMERA)

I. Historical note: Russian school of formalism and structuralism

It's time for Meyerhold and Stanislavsky to make peace. The Psychological Realism and the Acting Biomechanics were developed around the same time and the rivalry of two Russian directors should be a subject of history. In training of actor they both are complimentary. In fact, we use both all the time; director blocks actors which is very much an act of imposing externally the structure on performance (even if it was developed improvisationally), actor develops justification for his character (even if he doesn't call it "motivation"). Inner and outer worlds have own domains and an actor is the modem where the two meet. That's why Actor is a focal point of staging. He separates and connects the Objective and the Subjective.

Stanislavsky System is well known as Method Acting. Thanks for Age of Cinema (now TV and Video) the "realistic" environment asks for mimetic forms of performance ("like in real life"). To a great degree Meyerhold went into non-realistic direction precisely because he tried to define the stage language, the theatricality of acting. Interestingly enough he used many ideas of Russian structuralists of the twenties. If not for this ideological background of formalism the discoveries of Eisenstein in film language unlikely be possible. The main principle to view behavior as a text allowed to understand the laws of deconstruction of reality and reconstruction of it in a new media.

In powerful applications of Method Acting rooted its weaknesses and limitations. Since we appeal to the wholeness of actor, the task of differentiation becomes extremely difficult. I am required to live within the continuity of my inner existence, becoming an introvert. Stanislavky himself was well aware of boundaries of this school of acting. Perhaps, it was one of the reasons why he didn't want to lock his explorations into complete "system." With all his definite (even radical) ideas Meyerhold had left not a single textbook for his "techniques."


Roland Barthes, "The Structuralist Activity"

"The chief resistance to Structuralism today seems to be of Marxist focuses on the notion of history (and not on structure)." Certainly this has been the case not only with Structuralism but Post-Structuralism as well. The turn away from diachronic to synchronic concerns is a difficult one to erase. However, the problem of history raised my Marxists is not the simple one of "History - Yes or No," but instead of the role of history in the creation of social, linguistic and economic environments. History in Structuralism seems to come only through the back door, only so far as the synchronic contains within itself the historical traces of its own genesis. Marxism would tend to look for unified processes within history, especially economic ones, and their broad effects on Western Civilization. Some forms of vulgar marxism (that of the late Engels, the Second International, and aspects of Lenin's thought) abuse History in a worse fashion than the Structuralists, turning it into a determined telos. Structural man: a man who mentally experiences structure as an aspect of his objects. This is accomplished through the imagination. The Structural Activity: to reconstruct an "object" in such a way as to manifest thereby the rule of functioning (the "functions") of this object. Barthes considers this process a destructive/constructive one, a working of the mind of man against nature. The Structuralist Activity adds something to the "object" thus creating what Barthes refers to as the Simulacrum: "a veritable fabrication of a world which resembles the first one, not in order to copy it but to render it intelligible...a mimesis of functions." Its two components are dissection and articulation. The first locates certain mobile fragments whose differential situation engenders meaning. That is, its position relates to the other fragments in such that any alteration in the one will precipitate a change in the others. Fragments have no significance except at their frontiers, where they are defined and define other fragments. These fragments are not anarchistic, but instead ordered by the class to which they belong, and through which they can be seen as different. The logic of the fragment operates by the least significant difference.

The process of articulation proceeds by discovering in the fragments certains rules of association. It is a "kind of battle against chance," looking for the return of the units. "The object of structuralism is not man endowed with meanings, but man fabricating meanings." When the Greeks had listened to the "natural" in nature, modern (or structural man) listens for the already human. History is already human history. It is in this fashion that Barthes reads the role of history in Structuralism. Structuralism does not freeze, or ignore history, but instead waits until history itself reads Structuralism from its own perspective.


Dramatic Text is the guide for its self-reconstruction. Performance: Overcoming the Written Text.

Subtext and Contra-text: two texts inter-action.

IV. Segmentation and Dramatic Composition

1. Macro and Micro actions.
Twenty five centuries ago Aristotle left us a few good principles for the analysis of the dramatic. In his three principles of structure (v. Texture) he pointed at Plot, Character and Thought. On macro level of Plot Structure he established three self-evident elements: The Begining, The Middle and The End. Therefore the life of Character was set into the changes between the Exposition, Climax and Resolution. The output of this transformation, the contextual reading of Plot and Character has to produce the meaning of dramatic narrative. This macro-segmentation gives us basic directions for deconstructing a dramatic text in order to reconstruct it as a performance. Obviously, positioning actor in the twilight zone between the text and the stage, written and performed words, we ask actor to be an interpreter.

V. Shots and acting areas (floor plan)

CU, MS, LS exercises

1. Head and Shoulders

2. Chest and head (neck)

3. Hands and face.

Body and space

Monologue and scene time break down

Movement and timing

Mapping Time

Establishing Time Frame


"Read all the Shakespeare you can; if you can play Shakespeare, you can play anything." -- John Carradine

Monologue breakdown starts with the scene before. Actor have to carry it in pre-acting. You can't biging a new segment without depurturing from the previous one. Monologue is a dramatic journey for the audience.
Breakdown is done in several steps.
First -- segmentation.

HAMLET[1] 1 To be, or not to be: that is the question: 2 Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer 3 The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, 4 Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, 5 And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; 6 No more; and by a sleep to say we end 7 The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks 8 That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation 9 Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep; 10 To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub; 11 For in that sleep of death what dreams may come 12 When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, 13 Must give us pause: there's the respect 14 That makes calamity of so long life; 15 For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, 16 The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, 17 The pangs of despised love, the law's delay, 18 The insolence of office and the spurns 19 That patient merit of the unworthy takes, 20 When he himself might his quietus make 21 With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear, 22 To grunt and sweat under a weary life, 23 But that the dread of something after death, 24 The undiscover'd country from whose bourn 25 No traveller returns, puzzles the will 26 And makes us rather bear those ills we have 27 Than fly to others that we know not of? 28 Thus conscience does make cowards of us all; 29 And thus the native hue of resolution 30 Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, 31 And enterprises of great pith and moment 32 With this regard their currents turn awry, 33 And lose the name of action.--Soft you now! 35 The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons 36 Be all my sins remember'd.
It's only looks like we have 36 lines. Before you start counting sentences, search for the major satructural design: beginning, middle, end.


1      [1]To be, or [2]not to be: [3]that is the question:

2      Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
3      The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
4      Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
5      And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
6      No more...

	Are we done with establishing the theme of the monologue in
those 'five and a half" lines? Is the inner conflict clear?
	All depends of YOUR choices. On how did you design the
character of Hamlet. And if the monologue is not working for you
-- go back to your choices in characterization.

	Now, take apart the segment of the exposition.
	First line consists several acting sentenses. Three or two?
"To be" is opposing "not to be" -- simple thought conflict, an
idea. Shakespeare (Hamlet) calls it "question." (the question). I
ask students to use "/" for indication of "pausing" for acting
"punctiation." The initial design will look like:

	/To be,/ or not to be:/ that is the question/

	which is eauivalent of

	To be, (pause) or not to be: (pause) that is the question

	Pause is a stop which will be filled in later with "action."
	You could use "//" and "///" for a longer (bigger) break. My

	/To be,/ or not to be:// that is the question///

Action (Movement) could have enumerous ways of expression. What is important to remember, that you have to have structure and to search for it in the text. With Shakespeare we know that it is in there; often with non-classic texts you have to "impose" YOUR structure on the text. Especially, if it's a non-dramatic text.

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