Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries


Research Seminar: Lines of Continuity: The Case of Stanislavsky and the Russian Theatre Tradition

Please book a place with Linda Watson l.m.watson@leeds.ac.uk

Location: Alec Clegg, stage@leeds building, The University of Leeds

Dr Stefan Aquilina, Department of Theatre Studies, School of Performing Arts, University of Malta

This presentation articulates Stanislavsky’s position in the Russian theatre tradition as it developed from the Realism of the mid-nineteenth century to the Modernism of the early post-revolutionary era. It opens with a discussion about theatre tradition building, using the Russian case to elaborate on what I will refer to as ‘lines of continuity’. Modernism is often treated as a fundamental break with the past, but I will argue that modern theatre in Russia must be viewed against the backdrop of important trends that had been developing from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. Lines of continuity, of perhaps different thicknesses and visibilities, therefore cut across the Russian theatre tradition, resting on a debate surrounding the concept of authorship in both literary and theatre processes.

Stanislavsky’s contribution within this continuous process of tradition building will be discussed. Particular attention will be given to: (1) his development of the director’s  role into that of a director-pedagogue (2) the development of a studio culture that also aimed at a democratic levelling between theatre practice and textual composition (3) the modernization of classic play-texts through an application of the ‘through-line of action’ practice.  Stanislavsky’s pedagogical work will posit that it is through transmission processes that theatre traditions are formed and consolidated.

Dr Stefan Aquilina is Director of Research of the School of Performing Arts and Theatre Studies Lecturer at the University of Malta. His main area of research is Russian and early Soviet theatre, particularly Stanislavsky, Meyerhold, and amateur theatre. His first major book publication, a co-edited volume with Jonathan Pitches titled Stanislavsky in the World: The System and its Transformations across Continents, has just been published on Methuen Drama/Bloomsbury. Aquilina is currently undertaking sabbatical research as a Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Performance and Cultural Industries of the University of Leeds.


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