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The System (Method) falls into three sections, elaborated upon in Stanislavski's novels:
An Actor Prepares (1937) - This book explains how the actor must psychologically and emotionally prepare for a created role. Once it is created, the actor must personally develop it until he feels comfortable living as somebody else. Actors must ask themselves 'What would I do if...?' based on the circumstances surrounding their character. The System describes this as a personal reality.
Building A Character (1949) - This book deals with the external training an actor undertakes to communicate different aspects of a role. The stress here is on a physical and vocal approach to the role and how far these aspects can change to display aspects of the role while remaining in the character.
Creating A Role (1961) - This book gives detailed examples of how The System can be applied to various roles. The actor must make the role fit the script, but only after preparing the role and assuming it both physically and vocally. The actor must effectively consider and approach each line and every pause from the character's perspective. This helps the actor gain proper access to the subtext.
Circles of Attention
During his career as a young actor, Stanislavski felt tense on stage. Later in life, he examined ways to help an actor relax and focus on stage. An actor could focus by concentrating on a small circle, himself and one other actor or prop. The actor, once focused on this small circle, extends his attention to a medium circle that includes more actors or larger props. After truly focusing on this, the actor can extend the focus of the large circle of attention to cover the entire stage. If an actor loses concentration, he can retreat into the small circle before building up to a large circle again. This enables actors to achieve public solitude.
[Glossary @ act.vtheatre.net]
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The main difference between the art of the actor and all other arts is that every other [non-performing] artist may create whenever he is in the mood of inspiration. But the artist of the stage must be the master of his own inspiration, and must know how to call it forth at the hour announced on the posters of the theatre. This is the chief secret of our art. Konstantin Stanislavsky
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