16 Mar 2011

Stanislavsky. Destiny and system.

Why are Russian actors so meager in their character’s images? The answer is Stanislavsky system. The Soviet country needed another one of myths, this time concerning the soviet theatre. Stanislavsky system was going to become this very myth in the soviet theatre.

Terrible irony, I must say. The reason is the fact that Stanislavsky himself was not a wise and perspicacious person at all, such as he is known due to the portrait of his aged figure. He was narrow-minded as a person – isn’t it obvious from the style of his statements? – a person unable to feel the nervous pulsation of modern art, of art contemporary with him (!).

It is amazing how kindhearted the Destiny was, handing on a silver platter meetings with great, truly great contemporaries. Destiny usually gives a person only one chance! But... Stanislavsky does not care. He doesn’t notice his accidental acquaintances with great people. But why? He refuses to see them in the light of greatness. Self-importance of this man was so exaggerated, that he just couldn’t see great people: «what are great persons for me, if I am great myself?!»

Anton Chekhov’s name is unjustly connected with Moscow Art Theatre. It is unfair. In the beginning of XX century Anton Chekhov was misunderstood in Moscow Art Theatre — it must be honestly admitted. He was misunderstood beginning from "The Sea-Gull" («Chaika») and ending with "The Cherry Orchard" («Vishneviy sad»). "The Sea-Gull" was a flop not only because it reflected the modern times not from a very beautiful perspective. "The Sea-Gull" was also a flop because the actors didn’t understand it (jumping the gun we would say that in their time they just couldn’t understand it anyway!), as well as Stanislavsky, who didn't manage (!) to keep up a part of Lopakhin, as well as production directors. Therefore, it is at least impudent towards the author of «Chaika» to daub а seagull on the curtain without any permission.

"The Cherry Orchard" was also not accepted by Moscow Art Theatre as well as "The Sea-Gull". Suffice it to read almost last letter of Anton Chekhov. He wrote in it: «I have no doubt, that neither Stanislavsky, nor Nemirovich read my play attentively at least once» (self-recitation, А.Т.). Comment is superfluous, as the saying goes.

What for the destiny? Did the destiny turn its back upon him, foolish, speechlessly reminding him the maxim about notorious «pearls and swine?» Nothing of the kind! It gave him a meeting with Alexander Blok.

Frankly, Stanislavsky didn’t understand Blok. He exhausted him by means of his communication, his farfetched humdrum, his ability imagined by himself to see and feel the depth of others’ works. (By that time, in partnership with Nemirovich, he had already acquired the name of the first and the most profound interpreter of Chekhov’s plays!) At last by means of his incapacity to make a decision as a theatre manager (he was unable to do even that!). Blok’s correspondence with Stanislavsky is a classic example of artist’s misunderstanding by surrounding nonentities in the person of actors and stage directors. It boggles the mind reading their letters: they seem to speak different languages! Sometimes you can be even ashamed of Stanislavsky, blush for his language, for his affectation, for his pseudo-breeding and education and, what is worse, for his pseudo- intelligibility.

One would think that now the destiny turns away from him at last! Never. The myth has matured. Stanislavsky became a «living legend». Young stalinist society needed legendary Stanislavsky as the person of bad past, but wise though, and due to this having made the right choice. The fate, as if it doesn’t notice, speaking modern language, Stanislavsky’s dullness, gives him one more chance! This time, in the person of Mikhail Bulgakov.

Even if their letters seem to be full of compliments, it is difficult to deceive the readers! Stanislavsky doesn’t understand, Stanislavsky does stretch the truth. Quite like he stretched the truth writing to Blok twenty years before. Stanislavsky didn’t understand Bulgakov’s plays which is no wonder in general! — in the same way he didn’t understand Blok’s plays, and even long before — Chekhov’s plays.

However, one cannot help taking notice that something new appeared in Stanislavsky’s letters to Mikhail Bulgakov. Cowardice. Usual human cowardice mingled with Stanislavsky’s well-known vices. Stanislavsky is already old, he feels fear. Eventually he serves stalinist society, but not Bulgakov. Why does he need Bulgakov, a lyric poet and rebel at the same time! Moreover, already opposed to society, already come into a conflict with it. Perhaps it would have been possible to forgive Stanislavsky for many things, but it’s impossible to forgive cowardice towards an artist. Cowardice is disgusting. Cowardice, the bearer of which tries to cover it with paint of some of his concocted virtues or something like that, is especially disgusting.

Cowardice of Mravinsky who refused to play the première of Thirteenth symphony by Dmitry Shostakovich, is boundlessly disgusting! Disgusting with its « excuses» — and let’s notice! — after Dmitry Shostakovich’s death: well, you see, music of Shostakovich is Alpha and Omega for him. So why hadn’t you told this to the author when he was alive? And had not added to this: « Anyway, I won’t play your Thirteenth (they were on familiar terms with him)! My ass is dearer to me!» It is disgusting to see an old man telling lies...

Stanislavsky is also disgusting in his correspondence with Mikhail Bulgakov: lying, contriving old man!

Stanislavsky was hard of hearing modernity, hard of hearing ringing of modern times — too little people succeed in it in general! — he was hard of hearing tensional internal pulsation of contemporary art language. Pulsation which pierces through the whole great art and which is especially difficult to hear modern art. Here it is his personal drama. Studying, excuse me, looking through his «works», you can notice that he felt it himself. In my opinion, he suffered a bit from this complex, as he surely was not a stupid person.

Russian actor school was seriously injured due to this man’s activity who practised actor’s and director’s profession as a psychotherapeutic remedy, (unfortunately, it is impossible to hide it from the public eye) and even to this day it feels the consequences of such an influence. Stanislavsky system trains not an actor, but poseurs and hysterics.

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