acting BM Plus *
Elia Kazan: «The Method was all build up by the media into something it's not. I started the Actors Studio. That was my idea. I got Lee Strasberg in- a born teacher. Lee formulated The Method. But all really good actors live by their spiritual content. It's about when the emotion is real and not simulated. Brando - that's real thing. He wouldn't say he worked with The Method».
film acting:

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2009: Lul Theatre
2003: Film600: Bad Theories, Wrong Subjects
2005: total directing & total acting
2008 : t-blog + online?

Aston, Elaine and Savano, George Theatre As Sign-System. New York: Routledge, 1991.

Elam, Keir The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. New York: Methuen 1980

Leach, Robert Directors in Perspective: Vsevolod Meyerhold. New York Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Pavis, Patrice Languages of the Stage New York: Performing Arts Journal, 1982.

There two main roads from here: Fundamentals of Direction and Method Acting for Directors


Looks like I need to have another 221 class to develop the pages in this directory...


Too many questions! For the last two weeks I struggle to transit to the Method (preview of Acting III, Advanced); to show the need for it!


Acting & Directing Classes Final Presentations: Friday, May 2, 2003 Free for All!
Spring 2004 finals: films (THR470 Directing class) *
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* one act fest
Yoga and Freud -- new pages in
Film Casting and other "casting" pages: Cast in directing, Typecast in BioMethod, Actors and Cast in Method. Plus, Auditions.

chekhov pages @ vtheatre

"A Recipe for Failure"

1. Never get involved in anything. Say to yourself often, "Nothing Matters." 2. Keep you brain from getting tired - don't think about anything important too much. 3. Don't care about anyone or anything. Save all your concern for yourself and work on elevating selfishness to an art form. 4. Be a walking disaster. Leave trails of chaos in your wake where ever you go. 5. Have low expectations for yourself and always live down to them. 6. Waste as much time as possible. Spend your time hanging out, sleeping, playing games, complaining about how unfair life is, and making excuses. 7. Ignore other people and pretend you live alone on some remote island out in the Pacific Ocean. 8. Work on developing rude and obnoxious behaviors and appearances. 9. Never assess yourself, question your own values, or analyze your personal lifestyle. 10. Always keep your consciousness altered enough to keep you from fully grasping what is or is not happening to you. 11. Commit as much of your time, energy, and money as you can towards maintaining at least one major addiction to something everyone says is bad for you.
Copyright 1999, Ric Andrews

2007 updates are GROUP acting2
Webpages: Grammar & Spelling will be fixed only for the print versions!


index * BM1 * BM2 * BM3 * BM4 * * 200X * Film Dir * Books * Theatre w/Anatoly * SHOWs * Script Analysis * Acting 101 * Directing * Russian-American Theatre (RAT) * Classes * VIRTUAL THEATRE * Plays * Anatoly's Blog *


"Theatre is not a mirror but a magnifying glass." Mayakovsky
I made a lot of new pages. Empty ones. Because I try to be systematic. Now I do the other extreme -- instead of texts without links, I do nothing but linking...

The natural link from here is -- and if you already had some drama classes, go for THR413 Playscript Analysis.

Take THR331 Fundamentals of Directing!

What's next?

Read Theatre Theory pages after you are done with the new subject!
If you read BioMethod (Acting One), you know what to expect -- pages.

Biomechanics like every other technique is limited. I use it for comedy, but when we are in reign of drama, we have to use Method Acting. Best advise -- use one as much as you can, and go back to the other as soon as you reached the limits of its applications.

It all depens on the nature of your scene, monologue, character...

Go to swchowcases in SHOWS directory or to Plays directory, select the title, scene, character and start working!

NB. I have to find the logic in having two BM directories. This one -- for live class, the old one -- for web... That was the idea. More I work, more they become the same. Print and web?
... Teachers of the
Alexander Technique foster awareness of good posture -- not a rigid statuesque pose, but a fluid, easeful alignment of the body that allows for movement to occur with the least possible effort. Attention is focused on the relationship of the neck to the rest of the spine. "Allow your neck to be free," Alexander teachers tell their students, "so that your head may move forward and up, and your back may lengthen and widen."

I do not know how I feel not refering much to many celebrated acting techniques -- Alexander, Laban, Suzuki, Lecoq, Viewpoints... I think everything I need to study about physical theatre, I can find in Meyerhold's theories. And more...

Stalin silenced Meyerhold's idea for two generations and unlike Stanyslavsky, Meyer still not known. I am not a theatre historian and I have to leave to other to restore the justice, to examine the ifluences and connections between biomechanics and acting training today. Or to write a book on Brechtian theatre from Meyerhold's POV...

* Fall 2004: Directing (wish list) Bergman, Fellini, Tarkovsky, Kurosawa? See "show to direct" (short list) in Shrew + Oedipus !


Kids, I hope now we are ready to return to Method Acting. System

Go back to Acting One to understand when to apply Method instead of Biomechanics.

Limitations of BM (list)

Why Acting III is about Method?


If you do not keep notes, while you reading, you do not study -- you watch pages. Bad.

Keep your notes around, you will need them.

Read my "notes" pages to know what to expect in the future from the evolving online projects.

Anatoly 2003
Lesson #
60 or 90 min

1. review (previous class)

2. overview

3. new key terms & definitions

4. monologues & scenes

5. issues & topics

6. questions, discussion, analysis

7. in class work

8. feedback

9. improv & games

10. reading

11. homework

12. online, journals

13. quiz




Class Project (after the midterm)

playsChekhov, Ibsen, Shakespeare - Acting resources, career guides, and casting information.

My Wish List

ReadSpeaker AudioFeed - Podcast of this blog


Next : method
(c)2004 * New graphic files (mostly from the Bakhrushin Theatre Museum, Moscow) *
"Meyerhold was quick to realize that the portrayal of virtue—even Socialist virtue—untarnished and triumphant is inherently tedious and, as we shall see, his avoidance of it at all costs was to cause him unending trouble in the years to come and ultimately contribute in large measure to his downfall." (Braun on "Begbug" in THEATRE IN REVOLUTION: Russian Avant-Garde Stage Design 1913-1935)
©2004 *
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[ web companion to THR331 Fundamentals of Direction Theatre UAF course ]


* "According to Meyerhold, "movement is the most powerful means of theatrical expression." He believed that all other theatrical elements--dialogue, costume and sets--the fundamental iconistic signs of naturalistic theatre--were secondary to the actor's physical presence on the stage and to the pantomimed movements of the skilled performer. Meyerhold's system of Biomechanics sought to train actors to become acrobats, dancers, mimes and illustrators so that the actor's body would become "a word equivalent; the main transmitter of an invigorating shock and a poetic force" (Leach, 56)." [ Theatre Semiotics ]

"Influenced deeply by the non-verbal quality of Japanese Noh theatre and Chinese classical theatre, Meyerhold believed that Western theatre needed to establish a series of clearly discernible and decipherable hieroglyphic signs. Each hieroglyph would have its own particular meaning and would replace emphasis upon text. Meyerhold developed a series of biomechanical acting exercises for his students that he later incorporated successfully into productions. Biomechanics dispensed with the psychological overtones of the system and embraced a performative, theatrical outlook. Actors were intended to be illustrative performers; highly skilled, entertaining, and imaginative.

Meyerhold, borrowing heavily from the Russian Formalists and particularly from Vladimir Propp, developed the notion that character was little more than an action-function and that there were only a limited number of "types." The goal of the actor--in conjunction with the director--was to identify his or her action type and assume an easily interpreted, or decoded, means for representation. Meyerhold embraced two means for delineating action-function; the first was the assumption of the facial mask and the second was the utilization of the Formalist notion of "deformation and estrangement." The twin goals of estrangement and masks were to reveal social rather than personal meaning. The actor does not psychologically embody the character portrayed but rather illustrates the social type. For each scene, the actor--through proficiency of craft--assumes a specific facial mask that reflects on both character and action. In keeping with the Formalist notion of estrangement and the illustrative acting method, Meyerhold s ought to render actor from character and to prevent identification and psychological assumption. He achieved this by encouraging cross-gender casting, and by consciously avoiding giving actors roles for which they were apparently well suited.

Meyerhold's aesthetic strategy--which was later adapted and popularized by Bertolt Brecht-- was predicated upon foregrounding the means of representation in order to maintain a critical distance between the spectator and performance. This strategy forces the spectator into an active role--the audience members become practicing semioticians who must analyze the encoded performance (Aston and Savona, 92). This is a radical shift away from the iconistic quality of naturalistic theatre. Theatre is no longer a mirror in which the audience sees an illusionistic representation of itself. Rather, the performance becomes an event that is startling, challenging and alienating. The actor is a technician whose craft is one of precision and competence in execution. The audience is forced to critically analyze the performance and to glean meaning from a variety of sign systems--both iconic and schematic.

Meyerhold's career as an actor and director began in 1890 and lasted until 1940 when he was murdered by Stalin's secret police. It spanned the birth of classical semiotics and continued through the articulation of the Prague School. While the semioticians developed their notions of sign systems, Meyerhold was crafting a practical schematic semioliogy of performance that ultimately undercut the comfort and accessibility of iconistic sign interpretation. Meyerhold greatly enriched the theatre by increasing the complexity and multivalent quality of performance, but in doing so ironically threatened the entire project of theatrical semiotics. By challenging the foundations of the iconistic theatre, Meyerhold insisted on the development of a new means of interpretat ion--hieroglyphs and a new means of performance--foregrounding that undermined the audience's shared ability to decode the theatrical event.

Keir Elam considers Meyerhold's system of biomechanics to be an ideolect that represents a kinesic style. An ideolect is a subcode that is associated with a personal aesthetic or the style of a particular artist (Elam, 55). Ideolects complicate the process of code breaking because the spectator must be trained to recognize and decode the inherently idiosyncratic nature of an individual's style. The ideolects of Chekhov or Strindberg--what we now refer to as the Chekhovian or Strindbergian styles--are relatively easy to decode because both are outgrowths of Naturalism. Beginning with Meyerhold and particularly with later artists who emulated him, however, the process of decoding becomes ever more challenging because these artists are self-consciously anti-paradi gmatic.

Schematic signs, which by definition contain multivalent meanings, become even more opaque when compounded by ideolects of the playwright, director and actors. Meyerhold and, later, the German Expressionists, took classical texts and contemporary works and imposed upon them a series of ideolects that affected textual organization, the physical stage space, the mode of interpretation, and the manner of enactment. The results were productions that were hailed as theatrically brilliant, but jarring, unsettling and difficult to comprehend.

This process of unraveling and diminished accessibility was accelerated by Antonin Artaud and the score of theatre practitioners from Jerzy Grotowski to Peter Brook and Robert Wilson who embraced and championed his ideas. Artaud rejected the ideolects of Meyerhold, the schematic theatre of the expressionists and the epic theatre of Brecht because he believed that they were merely reactions against the prevailing paradigm. Artaud, in contrast, sought to destroy it by rethinking the entire enterprise of theatrical representation.

In Symbolist theatre, the text is mediated by the director; additional levels of meaning--or rather semiotic layering is added. In Meyerhold and later Brecht, the text is foregrounded by performative elements that draw attention to the theatrical event as an artifice. Antonin Artaud, however, took the process a gigantic step forward by negating the text. The text is no longer a secondary or even a tertiary element. Theatre, according to Artaud must be a language in space and movement--a language of symbols and signs that exists in performance without having to pass through or be mitigated by words. Words are simply a variation of human noise--just as screams, grunts, moans, sighs, cries, yelps are also vocal expressions. These expressions are combined with gestures, signs, dance, other movement, lights, colors, and costumes to form ideograms that convey meaning directly to the unconscious receptors of the audience." [ THE SEMIOTICS OF ACTING: FROM HIEROGLYPHS TO IDEOGRAMS by Edward Isser ]

Grotowski: "theatre is something that happens between actor(s) and spectator(s)."

The Biomechanics Curriculum (sample from other U.)
Introduction to Biomechanics
January 6 - 18, 2003

This intensive two-week course focuses on the development of the body as a fully expressive instrument. Classwork includes the fundamentals of Theatrical Biomechanics, tumbling, partner acrobatics, object work, Biomechanical etudes, and physical compositions. Students will explore the dynamics of movement in stage picture using floor, walls, cubes, ramps, stairs, and tables as stage surfaces.

Master Biomechanics - Scene Study * Summer Intensive Program - TBA

This intermediate / advanced two-week program explores the dynamics of movement in stage picture and the application of Theatrical Biomechanics in the creation of character. Scene study, incorporating a Biomechanical approach, is combined with rigorous daily work on the fundamental Biomechanical exercises. Prior training in Biomechanics is recommended.


Next time -- Spring 2008

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