In this work, I aim to rediscover and test a spiritual way of preparing the actor towards experiencing that ineffable artistic creativity defined by Konstantin Stanislavsky as the “creative state” or as “experiencing the life of the human soul” on the stage. Filtered through the lens of his unaddressed Christian Orthodox background, as well as his yogic or Hindu interest, the practical work allocated for this study was conducted during nearly five years of weekly sessions, and followed the odyssey of the artist, from being oneself towards becoming the character. The practice was structured in three major horizontal stages and was developed on another three vertical, interconnected levels. By using various meditation techniques, as an underlying principle of breath, and by observing a certain spiritual way of behaving, the practice began with the creation and constant maintenance of a virtually sacralised atmosphere. Later on, during training, when rehearsing, or while performing, the work evolved into testing all the elements of the “system”, with a particular focus given to seven of them that might hold both technical and spiritual values or usability. The procedures through which the elements can be addressed in practice were translated into acting exercises and études designed to elucidate such Stanislavskian principles as “morality”, “nature”, “experiencing”, “incarnation”, or the “superconscious”. The methodologies used had the purpose of teaching the actors how to give themselves the chance of experiencing the creative state, with no guarantees offered - for, truth be told, no one has the power of controlling the hypothetical soul of the artist with its ineffable inner mysterious sources of inspiration or with its subtler higher ways of creativity.
Sections of this book were published in Stanislavski Studies - Practice, Legacy, and Contemporary Theater, Taylor & Francis Online. These are: “The Influence of Christian Orthodox Thought on Stanislavski’s Theatrical Legacy” (August 2019) and “Stanislavski’s Creative State on the Stage - A spiritual approach to the ‘system’ through practice as research” (January 2020).
First and foremost, I need to give thanks to my PhD supervisor. Professor Maria Shevtsova, for her guidance, good advice, and constant help. Moreover, I find myself incredibly lucky and thankful for working alongside such amazing actors as Dr Aphrodite Evangelatou (also an accomplished academic), Maria Alexe, Ella Kova, and Claire Kirk, as well as such gifted filmmakers as Ricky Thompson and Emma Nan Hu. 1 am immensely grateful for their trust, hard work, and their total commitment during this long research journey. For years, all these wonderful people came back, every week, no matter what. They were there with me all the way until the end of my project, with no pecuniary gain whatsoever but, on the contrary, having made many various personal sacrifices. I am well aware that without their help, this book would have never been written.
In the end, I would like to thank my family for all the love, patience, and support given, and for allowing me, freely and endlessly, to pursue my own dreams.