Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’ tells the story of three men who have been chained to a wall since childhood, narrated through the character of Socrates. Day in and day out, the men are forced to stare at a blank wall, seeing only shadows cast upon it made by the figures who walk in front of a fire that is burning behind them. The shadows and shapes constitute the prisoners’ only conception of the world, thereby creating their reality, as they have never seen anything else. However, the shadows that the men see are themselves not tangible unto themselves, but only representations of real objects. The narrator explains that being a philosopher is similar to being a prisoner freed from the cave, and discovering that the cave was only an illusion of reality and that the true form of reality exists outside of the cave itself. The story is used as a philosophical argument illustrating ‘perception versus reality’, while also addressing the true nature of reality, of truth, and how our interpretation of these constructs can shape the world we live in; additionally, the world we so choose to live in.
Having escaped the cave, the prisoner is pained and overwhelmed, burned and blinded by the light of the sun, which symbolizes enlightenment, the rays bringing forth new knowledge and true reality. The prisoner soon learns to acclimate to the sun, and little by little learns to see not only shadows, but more intrinsic details such as the reflections of people, and finally, the actual people and objects themselves. The prisoner is then able to look to the moon and stars — and lastly, the sun, questioning, and reasoning about it. Plato remarks of this prisoner that he would believe this world, the ‘true form’, to be superior to that which he experienced within the cave, stating, “he would bless himself for the change, and pity (other prisoners)”, wanting to draw out into the light the other prisoners of the cave.
Certainly, we can parallel the experience had by audiences of Greek Tragedies, to that of the prisoners in the cave, both perceiving the figures performing in front of them as mere simulations of life, shadows on a wall inspired by reality. Just As Socrates compares the philosopher-narrator to the freed prisoner, we can cast Konstantin Stanislavski as the prisoner freed from the cave, seeking to illuminate himself in search for reality’s true form. Stanislavski based the laws of his work, ‘the system,’ on those he felt were closest to maintaining their true form in their work. By venturing out of the cave of representational and false form, or simulation of life, Stanislavski freed his fellow captives of the cave, the audiences and actors. Shadows on a wall are no longer acceptable once one has seen the light, literally, in the case of the prisoner, and figuratively, in Stanislavski’s case. The art of theater has adopted many new forms and methods of performing truthful work, which is ever an endeavor in the theater.
Just as the escaped prisoners looked to the Sun and reasoned, though at first stunned by its glow, we too can learn to reason about the ‘forms’ in our world: What is art? What is acting? What is ‘not acting’? What is truth? What is not truthful? What is experiencing?—Real thoughts, real impulses, impelling behavior on the stage or on set swelling up through an actor’s instrument to the fruition of its fullest expression driving the actor's soul into the hearts of their partners and audiences abound. These are attributes of life being born on stage carrying the burning and powerful beams of truth into the beings who look for the light. Allegory of the Cave concerns itself with Plato’s Theory of Forms (ideas), meaning that knowledge of these ideas or forms equates to real knowledge — rather than the material world which enters us through sensations. However, for an actor, perhaps that higher form would be the material world through sensations. Socrates urges that those who have attained excellence and elevated to this higher level, must not remain there but return to the cave and share with the remaining prisoners… However, as Plato explains that the freed prisoner would want to lead the others into the sunlight, he would be blind again once re-entering the cave as he did when he entered the sunlight; he would again have to acclimate. The remaining prisoners would perceive this state, this harm, as reason not to venture on the same journey into the sunlight. These prisoners would, in fact, remain the same and will be referred to later on…
Below will be a comprehensive and thorough means to reach the artist in their pursuit and journey — with the attempt to outline the natural obstacles that can occur naturally in the passing down of wisdom. There is a need to retrace the etymology of this knowledge and to deal with such deep work and personal process that has received its fair share of the ‘telephone-game’ treatment, in which so much has been lost in translation. Therefore, this is a visit to the past and means to converge prior teachings and their evolution to the teachings of today for its future receivers.
“While intent is to establish a means for the actor to develop a solid and reliable craft to create truth, the actor must understand these techniques and tools are just that. The actor must discover their own process in that these tools and exercises are of incredible resourcefulness and will evolve the actor, and yet the actor must also apply them in consideration of their own unique instrument, temperament, and journey. Our art lies within ourselves and the capacity we have to let the beauty of each other and the world that surrounds us all, to be allowed into our realm for better or worse. Through our interpretation and experiences, our objective as actors is to investigate and display the human condition for what it is, evolving not only ourselves for selfish betterment, but to evolve culture, politics, social reform, equal rights, and service to mankind. Let the stage be a breeding ground for new life and let us be brave enough to let this life enter the world beyond.”
In an attempt to continue to evolve art, art must be challenged. Theater has been representational, self-exploitative, self-indulgent, all results in search of expressing the ‘life of the human spirit’ in an attempt to capture the soul on stage and fed back to the societies from which it came. Stanislavsky himself was constantly questioning his own work, investigating and testing new means for the actor to capture this ‘life of the human spirit’. In his own literature, of which so much of the so-called ‘Method’ derived, Stanislavski stated that the “power of this method” was “based on the laws of nature.” As art and theater have continued to evolve, as it had when Stanislavsky implemented new and alternative means to the actor’s work, then so too should the modern actor question and investigate the very nature within himself and the nature within others as a way to carry this tradition of bettering and transforming our art, our nature, our laws and how they translate to the stage; and once on stage, how such natural laws can be transmitted and translated to the audience through art.
“It’s spirit of continual, tireless, striving that spirit which nourished the genius of Stanislavski is especially precious. The system is, for us, an excellent directive to action, not a dogmatic compendium of fixed standards and truth.” – Kedrov at The Moscow Art Theater
Despite many years having passed since the introduction of Stanislavsky’s work and later Strasberg’s, success of translation has been contingent on language barriers and success of students in their interpretation of their “master’s” work. The term “master” connotes a sense of submissive adherence to a teacher; a process of another passed down, and an adherence to follow rather than a journey towards the self and an application of the tried tools in relation to the actor’s own unique nature and temperament. As Stanislavsky said “We are born with it inside us, with an innate capacity for creativeness.” In other words, following a “system” can lead one away from themselves rather than applying that “system” through themselves. The first approach is an attempt to achieve the proper way of addressing a “system,” and the second, how one could apply that “system” in their unique way. Many variables can be attributed to why such work and messages are lost in translation: This work is not an exact science and psychologists themselves refer to their profession as still being in the dark ages. Also, translating text to other languages, personal interpretations, or various irresponsible teachers who are more concerned with a sense of worth and significance attributed to being a “master” or “teacher” in adding value to their identity, or the emulation of the power they perceived in their instructor that they wish to possess; or the desperate search to reflect an expertise in their eternal search for final validation in their pursuit of the work. Stanislavsky remarked about his own work, “It is not my system. I did not invent anything. I am simply trying to put down something which is based on the laws of creation.” Stanislavsky was clear that such work was designed for each actor to possess tools that could perhaps help them find a system within themselves, based on the laws of their creation and nature, not like the Ten Commandments that all must abide by.
Bobby Lewis, an integral member of the Group Theater, remarked that “For over fifty years, Stanislavski was constantly changing and experimenting and improving. Up to his death, he was looking for new ways to help the actor work. I said that it is a pity that followers of masters are often inclined to be more dogmatic than the masters themselves. Stanislavski was very reluctant to put down his findings in any permanent form, hesitating for a long time, and only agreeing under great persuasion, there are others who will very quickly tell you exactly what those findings are.” Whatever the reason, whatever the conjecture, the point being that “the work” has been and always will be misconstrued due to infinite variables depending on the individuals teaching the process, the culture, monetary motives, etc … For the truth-seekers who find their calling, perhaps it can be their duty to say nothing for certain, but to explore and investigate, to live the the ‘life of the human spirit’ for anyone who wishes to bear witness.
Lewis, also a stage-director and professor of the Yale School of Drama, said, “What I seek here is illumination—not ‘the ultimate answer’. There are no boundaries in art. I don’t want to make more, but less dogma here. Dogma may be all right in some quarters, but it doesn’t agree very well with artists” … “We must also study all new techniques, thus constantly expanding our understanding of fundamental beliefs.”
Theater continues through a constant search and quest to define man, and paradoxically, therefore also questions what “acting” really is. Plato’s account of Socrate’s sentiment “I know one thing, that I know nothing” is a philosophical paradox: if Socrates ever said such a statement, and the irony of “knowing” that you “know nothing” is itself a sense of “knowing,” thereby contradicting ‘not knowing anything.’ But as GROK admittedly knows nothing, it hopes to follow the tradition of grasping for what we may learn or become to know, hopefully of ourselves, or a society, a culture, country, the human race; simply who we are. Paulo Frier contends that the “learner” be a co-creator of knowledge, not an empty vessel to which a civil-obedient, or submissive student blindly takes knowledge from a “master,” but conversely, the student at GROK is seen as his own master. Henry David Thoreau also argued for a civil disobedience, refusal to obey certain laws handed down from a governing power. While these allusions are derived of other men’s theory unrelated to acting, acting too can apply directly to the natural-governing laws of man — and so art can be approached in understanding that nothing is for certain. Perhaps the most-intimate dwelling that artists can find refuge is within their obedience to the internal laws and nature of themselves. After all, these principles flee from the governing laws of society and are to be a return to the governing laws of nature and to ourselves, the form from which we came; not the violation of it. We are domesticated beings, taught how to speak, think, behave and feel. It is only when the actor arrives at the theater that they must unlearn what it is to be man. Nietzsche said of ourselves that once we have too much, “Behold, this cup wants to become empty again, and Zarathustra wants to become man again.” What is man again? A question the theater should never cease to be asking.
“Yes! Our deep spiritual wellsprings open wide only when the inner and outer feelings of an actor flow in accordance with the laws fixed for them, when there is absolutely no forcing, no deviation from the norm, when there is no cliche or conventional acting of any kind. In short, when everything is truthful to the limits of ultra-naturalism.” Stanislavsky
Bobby Lewis, co-founder of The Actors Studio with Elia Kazan, references a time when Michael Chekhov visited the Group Theater in the 1930’s. Lewis tells of a time when Stanislavski remarked of Michael Chekhov, “If you want to see my system, working at it’s best, go see Michael Chekhov tonight. He’s playing some one act plays by his uncle.” Lewis continues that whenever the Group asked Chekhov a question about Stanislavski, he’d say, “I can’t answer that fairly. I haven’t been in contact with him for several years — and he was always changing.” Lewis also stated that Chekhov observed all of the “externals” as well as the “internals” on his acting. “He did not emphasize one to the exclusion of the other; his acting was absolutely complete, inside an out.” Lewis also said Chekhov was “reticent to call himself a Stanislavsky authority. We should emulate this attitude by always trying to examine the subject undogmatically.”
Lewis notes that “another fetish that has been made from the Method in some quarters is the one about terminology. It has created a kind of dogma out of what should have been a freeing principle.” Harold Clurman of The Group Theater said “This work began with the so-called Stanislavsky system — as well as his heirs — and will continue to be an approach to acting in continuous evolution and never quite the same with any particular teacher or director. There is NO ONE RIGHT WAY.” Clurman had iterated that “You can’t teach Acting.” “A good teacher can give certain hints to release expressivity, or strengthen some technical weakness. That’s about it. But then those hints and that strengthening are indeed crucial for the performer.”
Three-time Oscar award winning actor Jack Nicholson remarked “The reality is no one can tell you how to act. My own observations and feelings tell me it requires deep personal commitment to allow any individual to move from that vague desirous state of “I’m gonna be an actress (or actor)” to a point where the actor has some vague sense that every part in which he is cast is not some incredible piece of luck like saying the secret word on ‘You Bet Your Life,’ but the result of some solidly acquired skill which, in there, where the truth is, he can call his own.” Stanislavsky asked “Do you believe that such great art is to be had for the mere studying of a system of acting, or by learning some external technique? No, this is true creativeness, it comes from within, from human and not theatrical emotions. It is towards this goal that we should strive.”
Clurman cited Martha Graham “The aim of the technique is to free the spirit” and Stanislavsky, “Anyone caught on stage playing his technique instead of the scene gives a bad name to any serious investigation of the problems of the acting craft.” “The best thing that can happen to an actor is to have his whole role form itself in him to its own accord. In such instances, one can forget about all ‘systems, techniques, and give oneself up wholly to the power of magic nature.”
Lee Strasberg’s relationship to Stanislavski’s work came from Richard Boleslavsky and Maria Ouspenskya at The American Laboratory Theater in New York, they were students of Stanislavski. Strasberg expressed that he had often been questioned as to what the relation was between Stanislavski’s “system” and what is commonly called “the method.” “I have always stated simply that the Method was based on the principles and procedures of the Stanislavski system. I began to use these principles in the early thirties, training and working with young actors in the Group Theater, and then later in my own classes and at the Actors Studio. However, I have always referred to our own work as a “method of work,” because I never liked the implication of the term system. Additionally, in the view of the many discussions and misunderstandings as to what “the system” is and what it is not, plus the confusion about the earlier and later periods of Stanislavsky’s work. I was unwilling to make Stanislavsky responsible for any of our faults.”
By understanding the evolution of the actor’s journey and search for truth, its obviously apparent that the architects of this work were careful not to write anything in stone or to refer to their tested findings as complete or the only way to approach the work of an actor or the actor’s work on himself. Despite their contribution and constant search to innovate, there are those teachers that still exist today who insist that no other way could work, or that certain process can only be executed a certain way. Some teachers demand that actors must follow a certain protocol of procedure to achieve relaxation, and yet cannot conceive that any given actor may have conveniently found what works for them. We are all different and raised differently, what may work for one actor may not necessarily work for another, and who is to say that there are only but a few teachers who discovered the only ways an actor could achieve these truthful results in their work? The work and art is constantly changing and evolving, and it must evolve just the same as man evolves. Bobby Lewis praised Michael Chekhov’s view, in that “we should emulate this attitude by always trying to examine the subject undogmatically.”
By continuing this tradition of questioning the very nature of our art, let us remind ourselves to question the nature of ourselves and one another.
“Always keep nature in mind . . . Seek to be in society as much as time allows, study man “en masse,” don’t neglect even the smallest scene, and you will discover why things happen one way and not another. This living book will serve you well until we have a body of theory, which, unfortunately, our art does not yet possess. Therefore, scrutinize all classes of society without sharp prejudice toward one or the other, and you will see that there is good and evil everywhere. This will give you the ability in acting to give yourself to every society . . . Then, no matter what situations are taken from life, you will always play them truthfully. Sometimes you may play poorly, sometimes only satisfactorily, but you will play truthfully.” – Mikhail Schepkin
It is not blashpeomy or necessary to condemn an actor of “the method” if they choose to find within their own nature the playing of a part, contingent on their own natural instincts. For example, people do not constantly go to the market, and when reaching for items on the shelves perfect the way in which they control their body, nor when ordering coffee, say to themselves “I better order my coffee well, I better do a really good job ordering my coffee here.” Why must an actor follow a body of work from outside themselves, rather than trusting the nature within. This is not to say these moments of ordinary life on stage must not be played truthfully. But such strict adherence can infect the actor following his natural impulses as he would in life. Simplicity can be a good thing. It is simple to order coffee. We understand that the stage and the presence of an audience changes all of these mundane functions of our day to day monotony into sequence of unordinary. Bobby Lewis said “It would be very nice if theater people could give up, as wasteful of time and energy, the accusations of phoniness that are flung from one side to the other. The fear of being phony has become one of the phoniest things in the theater. And I would like those who call people interested in the Stanislavski, or any other method, phony, to save their energy to study their own insides.” “On the other hand, I would like to say to those who call any attempt at theatricality phony, to study their outsides and find out if their acting instrument (including speech, gesture, movement, appearance, stage charm, personality, sense of rhythm, etc.) is really developed. Is attention being paid to these aspects of the acting art with the same devotion that is given to squeezing out some feeling? And to whether or not this fine feeling that they might have is really being used to serve the particular artistic problem at hand?”
Therefore, perhaps the actor can ask questions of themselves, how they relate to the world, and those around them, understanding that these questions may penetrate more into their soul and a revealing of who they are and how such discovery can be used to reveal the character and story. This approach could serve the actor rather than a teacher who may apply technical terminilogy in how you decided to order your coffee on stage. Perhaps adherence to a particular “system” not coming from that of the actor themselves will lead them away from the organic nature that resides within them to begin with. These are tools, tried and tested that can be used as a guide for the actor in search of truth. If acting is to be living on stage, then how can someone tell you how to live your life? This is not to say an actor should irresponsibly disregard the life it is that they are needed to play. “We have learned certain laws concerning the creativeness of our nature — this is significant and precious — but we shall never be able to replace that creative naturally our stage technique, no matter how perfect it is.” Stanislavsky
Stanislavski himself said “There are scientists who find it extraordinarily easy to juggle with the word ‘subconscious’, yet whereas some of them wander off with it into the secret jungles of mysticism and utter beautiful but most unconvincing phrases about it, the others scold at them, laugh them to scorn and proceed, with great self-assurance to analyze the subconscious, set it forth as something quite prosaic, speak of it in the way we describe the functions of our lungs or livers.. The explanations are simple enough. It is only too bad they do not appeal to our heads or hearts. But there are still other learned people who offer us certain thoroughly worked out, complex hypotheses, although they admit that their premises are not yet proven or confirmed. Therefore they make no pretense of knowing the exact nature of genius, talent, the subconscious. They merely look to the future to achieve the findings they are still meditating on. This admitted lack of knowledge based on deep study, this frankness, is the outgrowth of wisdom. Such confessions arouse my confidence and convey to me a sense of the majesty of the searchings of science. To me it is the urge to attain, with the help of a sensitive heart, the unattained. And it will be attained in time. In the expectation of these new triumphs of science I have felt there was nothing for me to do except to devote my labors and energy almost exclusively to the study of Creative Nature — not to learn to create in her stead, but to seek oblique, roundabout ways to approach her, not to study inspiration as such but only to find some paths leading to it. I have discovered only a few of them, I know that there a great many more and that they will eventually be discovered by others. Nevertheless I have acquired a sum of experience in the course of long years of work and this is what I have sought to share with you. Can we count on anything more since the realm of the subconscious is still beyond our reach? I do not know of anything I can offer you: Feci quod pout—facet mealier potentes (‘I have done what I could, let him who can do better’).
Despite the findings and research that Stanislavski and Strasberg produced, some disciples of their teachings follow on a close leash, hindering the evolution of the art where their teachers admittedly did not always know which direction to head. In his time, Stanislavsky’s sentiment of ‘the realm of the subconscious is still beyond our reach’ was likely not a statement he intended to be permanently employed in the “system’s” evolution. These proponents of the craft that wish to remain in the same place are those same prisoners of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave who perceived the returning of the freed prisoner as being in a state of harm and disease, and therefore themselves chose to remain in the cave. Socrates though, urged that the freed prisoners share their excellence just as Nietzsche’s Ubermensch descended his cave-dwelling to share his overflowing wealth of knowledge with man:
“You great star, what would your happiness be had you not those for whom you shine?
“For ten years you have climbed to my cave: you would have tired of your light and of the journey had it not been for me and my eagle and my serpent.
“But we waited for you every morning, took your overflow from you, and blessed youfor it.
“Behold, I am weary of my wisdom, like a bee that has gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to receive it.
“I would give away and distribute, until the wise among men find joy once again in their folly, and the poor in their riches.
“Forthat I must descend to the depths, as you do in the evening when you go behind the sea and still bring light to the underworld, you overrich star.
“Like you, I must gounder—go down, as is said by man, to whom I want to descend.
“So bless me then, you quiet eye that can look even upon an all-too-great happiness without envy!
“Bless the cup that wants to overflow, that the water may flow from it golden and carry everywhere the reflection of your delight.
“Behold, this cup wants to become empty again, and Zarathustra wants to becomeman again.”
Thus Zarathustra began to go under
This ‘realm of subconscious’ Stanislavsky referred to still exists today in a time where scientists claim that psychology remains in the dark ages. But this should not underscore or limit the incredible progress since the time of Stanislavsky or Strasberg. Perhaps it is the dedication and observation one must strictly follow that deters so many instructors from investigating the ‘realm of the subconscious’ within the actor’s instrument, albeit carefully and responsibly, to cite Stanislavsky, “What art, what perfection! Alas, how rare are actors of this kind!” Like the prisoner pained and harmed by the burning Sun, so too are those that wish to look away and turn themselves blind to the problems and evolution of the actor’s instrument. Lee Strasberg expressed “A lot of confusion has resulted from the misunderstanding of the work with the actor which I’ve described. Some charge that these issues are more properly within the sphere of the analyst, psychiatrist, or physician. The accusation has been made that this work really amounts to amateur analysis or ‘cheap’ psychiatry. It is true that often the work leads to results unrelated to acting.” … “His instrument responds not only to the demands of the actor’s will, but also to all those accumulated impulses, desires, conditioning, habits, and manners of behavior and expression. They are so automatic that the actor is not aware of them and is, therefore, unable to deal with them. The extent to which unconscious habits of thought, feeling, and behavior influence the actor during the actual process of acting still demands greater recognition and clarification.” However, rather than pursue evolving the work in this area, some instructors would rather cut the body of such great work off at the legs by refusing to at least even becoming aware of the significance in the continuing investigation of the actor’s instrument. Some of Strasberg’s students to this day wear a suit of armor in battle against employing other’s very tried techniques that reveal the specific and unique problems of a particular actor’s instrument—the very component that Strasberg strived so much to free. Perhaps they too see the ‘freed prisoner’ in pain, and Zarathustra felt he had too much honey that he needed hands outstretched to take it. Therefore, the question of such prisoners is not necessarily the distrust in those that have offerings, but in their capacity to take in more light, more honey, more life. So while it is not a question of whose reality is superior or inferior, but to the state of that particular actor’s instrument. If there are those that proclaim to teach or strive to evolve the work but not question or outstretch their hands, then hopefully their communication is limited only to the other prisoners residing with them in that cave of arrested-development. This sort of practice is not preservation but a fear of the unknown and perhaps a fear of weakness or inadequacy stemming from the not-knowing. Perhaps if we follow in the Socratic paradox, and admit that we know nothing, we may be freer to then learn more…
It was knowledge of the Forms that was considered as real knowledge, or to Socrates as “the good.” (Watt, Stephen (1997), “Introduction: The Theory of Forms (Books 5–7)”, Plato: Republic, London: Wordsworth Editions, pp. xiv–xvi) In Allegory of the Cave, Socrates professes that those with excellence must follow the highest of studies, beholding the good — and they must not remain in this state, but return to the prisoners of the cave and share their wealth. Humans are motivated to find “the good”. To Plato, knowledge did concern itself with material objects or imperfect intelligences that we encounter in our monotonous day to day lives with society, conversely, it is an investigation of nature; the purer and more perfect patterns which are the models after which all created beings are formed (Wikipedia). Another concept of “the Good” is embedded into the morality of Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange — ‘After aversion therapy, Alex behaves like a good member of society, but not by choice. His goodness is involuntary; he has become the titular clockwork orange — organic on the outside, mechanical on the inside. In the prison, after witnessing the Technique in action on Alex, the chaplain criticizes it as false, arguing that true goodness must come from within (Wikipedia). Alex’s transformation into a moral being is the flip-side of the same coin in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave; whereby Alex is trapped himself to a chair and forced to watch images that will shape his reality and who he is — which is why the chaplain deems this transformation and resulting behavior as false, it does not come from within… To be forced to adhere by or follow a system that does not come from within were the very proponents to which the ‘system’ or ‘method’ attempted to avoid, it was a system that came from within and through the organic laws of nature.
A Clockwork Orange
Eric Morris, the author of No Acting Please, wrote “Stanislavsky, Strasberg, and some of the other Method pioneers dealt with the need to eliminate tension. However, there are literally dozens of other instrumental problems and conditions that stand in the way of the creative process: fear in all its shapes, insecurity, behavioral conditioning, and social obligations, to just name a few” … “Preparation, then, must relate to the human instrument with the emphasis on exercises that deal specifically with problems standing in the way of the actor’s personal truth.” Morris goes on to say, “If, for example, an actor makes a choice to stimulate an anger state and uses Sense Memory to reach the anger, the technique would be useless if the actor had, for a lifetime, been taught to deny impulses of that kind. Conditioning can be very subtle, but our parents and peers have an enormous impact on our growth. Without realizing it, we can develop inhibitions that cause us to redirect real feelings and impulses into more socially acceptable areas.”
The example Morris gives above can actually be directly correlated to a time in the Group Theater when these pioneers of the Method encountered an instrumental obstacle in one of their members and brother to Stella Adler, Luther Adler. The example can only be drawn from what Strasberg wrote and not personal witness of course as this was in the 1930’s. Strasberg wrote that “Luther Adler had been cast as a hot-tempered class-conscious stock boy who pushes his way to the top. The character was motivated by an all-encompassing anger at his class situation. Luther could not find the true emotion of his character. I told him we needed a reaction that showed his anger, but Luther had never felt a personal wrong in his life that produced such a reaction. After some work in rehearsal, I finally asked him, ‘What makes you angry?’ Luther replied, ‘When someone does something awful to someone else, I get furious.’ Luther therefore created a substitute situation in his own mind: a wrong done to someone else close to him. This allowed him to produce the character’s destructive energy.” Adler was able to achieve this state of anger truthfully according to Strasberg, but there are plenty of young and new actors who all would have their own obstacles and inhibitions in some area of the work, based on “unconscious habits of thought, feeling, and behavior” that Strasberg says “demands greater recognition and clarification.” There certainly are exercises that will cut to the heart of an actor’s anger or vulnerability and exercises to open others up to the passion and beauty of the world. But as the prisoners in Plato’s Allegory of The Cave initially only saw shadows of which they perceived true reality, it was the freed prisoner who turned his eye to the illuminating Sun and eventually was allowed to reason about such a body of illuminating essence. While this work can be recoded, theories and tools written on the pages of books, “We have learned certain laws concerning the creativeness of our nature — this is significant and precious — but we shall never be able to replace that creative naturally our stage technique, no matter how perfect it is.” Stanislavsky
Having conjectured on so much history and theory, it should be noted again that words and language can be a huge detriment to the actor following his nature, so much language is nurture. This recording is intended to “communicate” the laws of knowledge being passed down and the evolution of man and the actor, so language is needed here to convey such. But in the theater, it is intended that the actors feel rather than talk, respond rather than think, and surrender to the organic laws of man. Again, we turn to Stanislavsky to demonstrate now what cannot be demonstrated in person through expression and witness.
“One must not speak in dry scientific language with actors, and, in any case, I myself am not a man of science; I couldn’t think of doing something out of my line. My task is to speak with the actor in his own language. Not to philosophize about art, but to reveal in simple form the practical methods of psycho-technique needed by him for the artistic embodiment of inner emotional experience.”
“The method we have been studying is often called the ‘Stanislavski System.’ But this is not correct. The very power of this method lies in the fact that it was not concocted or invented by anyone. Both in spirit and in body it is a part of our organic natures. It is based on the laws of nature. The birth of a child, the growth of a tree, the creation of an artistic image are all manifestations of a kindred order. How can we come closer to this nature of creation? That has been the principal concern of my whole life. It is not possible to invent a system. We are born with it inside us, with an innate capacity for creativeness. This last is our natural necessity, therefore it would seem that we could not know how to express it except in accordance with a natural system.”