Stanislavsky and Ramacharaka

The impact of yoga and the Occult Revival on the System 1

Authored by: R. Andrew White

The Routledge Companion to Stanislavsky

Print publication date:  October  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415535649
eBook ISBN: 9780203112304
Adobe ISBN: 9781136281853


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The culture of fin-de-siécle Russia was replete with interest in the occult, spiritualism, and the religions of the Far East, and curiosity about the mystical infused all tiers of society. One prominent figure among those influenced by the spiritual was Konstantin Stanislavsky himself, notably during a personal crisis in which he began to doubt his own ability as an actor. In 1906, he took his now-famous trip to Finland, where he sequestered himself for the summer, examined his artistic life, and began to reconsider seriously his process as an actor. Reflecting on past artistic work, he began to organize years of his notes on acting and included several notions drawn from Eastern mysticism in general and yoga in particular into his System. Given that important yogic elements were present in the System at its very inception, knowledge of the intersections between his System and yoga is necessary for a full understanding of Stanislavsky's technique. Borrowing from yoga, Stanislavsky offers actors much more than theories about how to be more believable or psychologically realistic in their roles. He adapts specific yogic practices in order to help actors transcend the limitations of the physical senses and tap into higher levels of creative consciousness and, ultimately, inspiration.

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