"We Need New Forms" Constantin Stanislavsky's Influence on the Development of The Group Theatre
Mentor:Dr. Carolyn Vieira-Martinez, Assistant Professor of History , Chapman University
In the American Theatre, the name Constantin Stanislavsky has become synonymous with certain techniques that allowed theatre to evolve into its present form. The system that he created provides the foundation for a majority of the different theories that have been introduced to theatrical practices in the 20th and 21st centuries. In 1924, Constantin Stanislavsky and the Moscow Art Theatre undertook a multiple city tour of America. This tour is known for introducing this system of new techniques that intrigued members of the American theatre community. It was out of this tour that a demand for teachers educated in the system grew and a process of cultural hybridization began. Among those intrigued by Stanislavsky’s work were the founding members of the seminal Group Theatre. These members worked together to create new American theories that are directly related to the core teaching of Stanislavsky. Practitioners looked to Russian émigrés teachers and the few writings from Stanislavsky in an attempt to generate art based on this revolutionary system. However, due to artistic intention, cultural exchange, and misinformation these new theories bore little resemblance to their ideological parent. The research examined the published materials of Russian and American teachers to gain an understanding of the evolution of the system. The aim of this project was to explore the cultural and political influences that changed the interpretation of this foreign theory and radically affected its practical application in productions by the Group Theatre. This study investigated the connection between the Moscow Art Theatre’s early tour and the Group Theatre’s productions to determine the extent of the Russian influence on new artistic forms that were created by American theatre practitioners.