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Rediscovering Stanislavsky
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Book description

Konstantin Stanislavsky (1863–1938) was one of the most innovative and influential directors of modern theatre and his system and related practices continue to be studied and used by actors, directors and students. Maria Shevtsova sheds new light on the extraordinary life of Stanislavsky, uncovering and translating Russian archival sources, rehearsal transcripts, production scores and plans. This comprehensive study rediscovers little-known areas of Stanislavsky's new type of theatre and its immersion in the visual arts, dance and opera. It demonstrates the fundamental importance of his Russian Orthodoxy to the worldview that underpinned his integrated System and his goals for the six laboratory research studios that he established or mentored. Stanislavsky's massive achievements are explored in the intricate and historically intertwined political, cultural and theatre contexts of Tsarist Russia, the 1917 Revolution, the volatile 1920s, and Stalin's 1930s. Rediscovering Stanislavksy provides a completely fresh perspective on his work and legacy.


‘Rediscovering Stanislavsky is more than a step back in history. It offers a fresh new look at one of the key masters of modern theatre, and it makes him relatable to those of us who create and study theatre today. This book is written by a scholar who is uniquely familiar with the key contemporary theatre practitioners, and their work, and who can relate history to today's theatre practices - both in the academia and at the premier international venues. Maria Shevtsova uncovers the secret behind Stanislavsky's unmatched influence by stressing his unparallelled versatility as actor, director, theatre manager and entrepreneur, musicologist, designer, technician, researcher, pedagogue, experimentalist, scholar and author. Stanislavsky, as depicted by Shevtsova, lived and breathed theatre, just as today he symbolizes it. Everyone who wants to fathom the meaning behind Stanislavsky's greatness must read this book!'

Andrei Malaev-Babel - Florida State University and Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training

‘Maria Shevtsova's book is astonishing. Her views on Russian theatre and on European theatre in general, and on Stanislavsky in particular, are always fascinating. But in her latest book she has surpassed herself. Professor Shevtsova gives a breathtaking account and elucidations of so many aspects of Stanislavsky's work, which are so often imprisoned in theories caged in other theories, or are simply not understood. Others are just not known. To hear about the transgressive aspects of his philosophy is invigorating. Professor Shevtsova's comprehensive coverage of his work manages both to locate him in the context of his times while also liberating his spirit so that he can be appreciated in his epic universality. A tour de force.'

Declan Donnellan

‘Rediscovering Stanislavsky is a magisterial event in the theatre world. It is a unique attempt in international theatre studies to revisit the theory, experience and legacy of Stanislavsky, not only in the context of Russian thought but also of thought universally shared within the context of theatre practice. The author brings essential clarity to Stanislavsky’s terms and ideas based on her exploration of their semantics and origins, without which it is impossible to grasp the very core of Stanislavsky’s system and its method. This book gives an enormous intellectual and creative impulse to all those who are searching for new forms in contemporary theatre - actors, directors, theoreticians. Maria Shevtsova’s book is superbly written, full of discoveries, insights and genuine inspiration.’

Alexander Chepurov - Russian State Institute of Scenic Arts, St Petersburg

‘… the book is an impressive, comprehensive, and significant contribution to our understanding of the greatest acting teacher the world has ever known.’

David Krasner Source: Theatre Topics

‘This book is an outstanding contribution to this rethinking and is essential reading for theatre and performer-training scholars, practitioners, and students.’

Rose Whyman Source: NTQ Book Reviews

‘This is a brilliant, inspiring and stimulating book … It will be of use to scholars and teachers everywhere but, more important, it is an enlightening, encouraging, and hugely valuable resource for all who are attempting to practise the theatre arts, particularly of acting and directing, in similar times of adversity.’

John Gillett Source: Stanislavski Studies

‘… excellent …’

Laurence Senelick Source: TDR Reviews

‘… this is a most useful book showing that Stanislavsky was himself even more complicated than we previously have been led to believe. Shevstova suggests we oversimplify him at our intellectual peril, and this book provides genuine context for that view, contexts that continually reward the reader. In Shevstova’s hands, we are introduced to a full human being, one we will want to re-visit often.’

Nathan Thomas Source: Critical Stages

‘… a most useful book.’

Source: The IATC journal

‘Maria Shevtsova, an indefatigable polymath of current Western theater practice, is perhaps the world’s foremost chronicler of contemporary avant- garde stage directors … Maria Shevtsova’s extraordinary Rediscovering Stanislavsky has come along at the right time.’

David Chambers Source: Theater

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