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"An Actor Prepares"
by Konstantin Stanislavsky

John Longenbaugh

"So much mystery and veneration surrounds the writings of the great Russian teacher and director Stanislavski that perhaps the greatest surprise awaiting a first-time reader of An Actor Prepares is how conversational, commonsensical, and even at times funny this legendary book is. After many productions with the Moscow Arts Company, Stanislavsky sought a way to introduce his new style of acting to the world outside of his rehearsal hall. The resulting book is a "mock diary" of an actor describing a series of exercises and rehearsals in which he participates. He details his own emotional and intellectual reactions to each effort, and how his superficial tricks and mannerisms begin to disappear as he increasingly gives over his conscious ego to a faith in the creative power of his subconscious. Rarely has any writer on the theater achieved the sort of lucid and inspired analysis of the acting process as Stanislavsky does here, and his introduction of such now-standard concepts as "the unbroken line," "the magic if," and the idea of emotional memory has laid the groundwork for much of the great acting of the 20th century. While much excess and nonsense was to follow in the steps of Stanislavsky's writings, his original texts remain invaluable, and surprisingly accessible, to any actor or student of drama. "

Stanislavsky, Konstantin. An Actor Prepares. Trans. by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood. New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1989.

C.S. Solano
Lewiston, NY
August 24, 2002

"The first in a series of three, an Actor Prepares deals with the inner process/preparation an actor must explore in order to prepare for a role, how to control and stimulate your mind in order to convey the truth of your character. The story is told through the eyes of Kostya, the ex-stenographer who know shorthand, thus enabling him to take notes of the class. The instructor, Tortsov, is Stanislavsky in disguise.

The book takes you on a journey of the art - acting. From learning about the magic "IF" to learning how to find your super-objective there is something for all in this book. Everything interrelates forming a web of knowledge and tools that you can take with you forever.

When you read it, however, keep in mind what the author said about his books:
"It is not a hand-me-down suit that you can put on and walk off in; or a cook book where all you need to find is the page and there is your recipe. No, it is a whole way of life."

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