Phil Gyford


Friday 27 May 2005

PreviousIndexNext 'An Actor Prepares' by Constantin Stanislavski

Because I’m usually immersed in web stuff, it’s interesting to read a text whose ideas are still relevant to its target profession 70 years on. It was mostly a more enjoyable read than I expected — it’s written as if by a student of acting, reporting on a year of training. It makes clear how much more there can be to acting than just “pretending to be someone else”. Unfortunately I kind of lost it around two-thirds of the way through, when he starts talking about transmitting “rays” to each other, and things get a bit hazy and repetitive. Maybe that stuff makes more sense when the preceding chapters have been properly absorbed and used. (Also see my notes on Sanford Meisner on Acting and Uta Hagen’s Respect for Acting.)

Note by the Translator


The author is most ready to point out that a genius like Salvini or Duse may use without theory the right emotions and expressions that to the less inspired but intelligent student need to be taught. What Stanislavski has undertaken is not to discover a truth but to bring the truth in usable form within the reach of those actors and producers who are fairly well equipped by nature and who are willing to undergo the necessary discipline.

1. The First Test

3 First lesson: turn up to rehearsals on time!

5 If rehearsal seems stilted, the same old stuff, change something: setting, privacy, mood, etc.

2. When Acting is an Art

13 Ideally an actor should be carried away in his part, by the subconscious (as long as it carries him in the right direction). But it’s impossible to control the subconscious without destroying it.

14 You must “live the part” by “actually experiencing feelings that are analogous to it, each and every time you repeat the process of creating it.”

15 “Plan your role consciously at first then play it truthfully.” “We must assimilate a psychological technique of living a part, and that this will help us to accomplish our main object, which is to create the life of a human spirit. We must then “express [the life of a human spirit] in a beautiful, artistic form.”

16 The body must be up to it.

18-20 Another method: the “art of representation.” The original preparation of a role is good and true but subsequent performances are fixed, cold copies of its external representation without feelings. We prefer that each performance must be fresh and felt.

19 Be careful when rehearsing with a mirror — teaches you to watch the outside, not the inside.

22-23 The school of the art of representation says the stage is too poor in resources to create life, so we must use these conventions. It may delight you but won’t move you. Its form is interesting rather than content. “Your astonishment rather than your faith is aroused.”

24-6 Mechanical acting: acting with clichés. Shaking fist for revenge, putting hand over heart to express love. Peasants spitting on floor, military men clicking heels. Tearing hair in despair. Clichés will fill every spot in a role that’s not solid with living feeling. But it still takes work to achieve mechanical acting.

27-9 Over-acting: using the first stereotypes, rubber stamps and first impressions that leap to mind, without even sharpening or preparing them for the stage. Common in beginners and can grow into the worst kind of mechanical acting.

29 “Never allow yourself externally to portray anything that you have not inwardly experienced and which is not even interesting to you.” A character built on stereotype cannot grow.


“Now remember firmly what I am going to tell you: the theatre, on account of its publicity and spectacular side, attracts many people who merely want to capitalize their beauty or make careers. They take advantage of the ignorance of the public, its perverted taste, favouritism, intrigues, false success, and many other means which have no relation to creative art. These exploiters are the deadliest enemies of art. We have to use the sternest measures with them, and if they cannot be reformed they must be removed from the boards. Therefore … you must make up your mind, once and for all, did you come here to serve art, and to make sacrifices for its sake, or to exploit your own personal ends?”

3. Action

35-7 Whatever happens on stage must be for a purpose, even if you outwardly appear to be doing nothing. You must act either outwardly or inwardly.

40-41 Never simply try to act emotions — emotions are caused by something that has gone before, and it’s this that you should think of. The result will produce itself.

46If acts as a lever to lift us out of the world of actuality into the realm of imagination.”

4. Imagination

70 The actor must use his imagination to be able to answer all questions (when, where, why, how). Make the make-believer existence more definite.

71 If you do or say anything on stage without fully realising who you are, what you’re doing, how you got there, etc, you’re not using your imagination. If someone asks “is it cold outside?” you should “remember” what it was like when “you” were last out — the sights, sensations, etc — before answering.

5. Concentration of Attention

75 “An actor must have a point of attention, and this point of attention must not be in the auditorium.”

82 “Solitude in Public”: when you are in public (e.g., on stage) but have a small circle of attention and feel alone within it.

83-5 Your focus of attention can be larger areas, but this is harder to maintain — if it begins to slip, withdraw the attention to a smaller circle or single object/point, then gradually enlarge the circle of attention again.

88 At the end of every day, in bed, you should go over everything that happened in great detail, both appearance and inner emotions. Also try to refresh earlier memories of places, events, people. “That is the only way to develop a strong, sharp, solid power of inner and outer attention.”

89 You should give the objects of your attention on stage an imaginary life (where did it come from, who’s used it, etc) so that they’re more interesting to you.

93 Observe things in daily life — bestow them with imaginary backgrounds to heighten various emotions. Remember those scenes and draw on them.

93-4 When interacting with people, attempt to comprehend their inner emotional life through their actions, thoughts and impulses. Why did they do that? What did they have in mind?

6. Relaxation of Muscles

95-104 The actor should practice relaxing his muscles; we tend to be too tense.

104-6 If the actor believes in the purpose of an action, the movement will be more believable.

106-110 When performing a single gesture, only the muscles necessary for that gesture should be used.

7. Units and Objectives

111-116 When analysing a play you should look for the overall theme/idea. Then break it up into parts. Then break those up… keep going until you have a series of actions that can be made interesting, but don’t forget the overall theme.

116-126 Decide on the objective for each unit. It should be a verb, an action, something you need/want to do.

8. Faith and a Sense of Truth

130-1 Don’t try too hard to be truthful (to create a believable part) or you’ll over do it.

133 When criticising the work of others look for the good points, because the audience will want to believe what they see, not look for the unconvincing [seems a bit hopeful to me, but justifies why everyone in acting classes is so relentlessly, frustratingly positive about even hopeless performances].

143 When offstage either “play for yourself”[?] or “confine your thoughts to what the person you are portraying would be doing if he were placed in analogous circumstances.”

142-4 Repeat a sequence of physical actions over and over, with belief in their reality, until they become a single sequence: “the life of a human body.”

145-7 Where you have believable actions, it’s a better basis on which to “achieve the creation of the subconscious life of the spirit of a role.”

150-1 The difference in approach to, say, comedy and tragedy is only in the circumstances surrounding the actions of the person you’re portraying. Don’t think about the emotions — think about what you must do.

9. Emotion Memory

163-? You should use memories of emotions to recreate them on stage, sometimes fuelled by memories of sensations (smell, taste, etc).

177 You cannot use everyone else’s feelings, or made-up feelings. They always come from you. So you will always be playing yourself, “but it will be in an infinite variety of combinations of objectives, and given circumstances which you have prepared for your part, and which have been smelted in the furnace of your emotion memory.” You can only play parts well that you have the appropriate feelings for.

183-4 Set, lighting etc. set the mood for the actors, and aren’t just for impressing the audience.

184-6 To repeat a feeling that occurred accidentally, don’t start with the results — look for the original stimulus and use that.

188-90 We can use emotions generated by events we’ve only witnessed or read about, not just experienced.


“Do you realise, now that you know what is required of an actor, why a real artist must lead a full, interesting, beautiful, varied, exacting and inspiring life? He should know, not only what is going on in the big cities, but in the provincial towns, far-away villages, factories, and the big cultural centres of the world as well. He should study the life and psychology of the people who surround him, of various other parts of the population, both at home and abroad.”

10. Communion

198 When doing soliloquies you need to find a subject and object inside yourself. Try to establish communication between brain and solar plexus.

199-202 When communicating with a partner, maintain a constant flow, using eyes, body, emotions when not speaking, every time you act the part.

202-3 If you lack a partner for practice, don’t imagine one — find one. Or you get out of the habit of interacting with real people.

205-222 [Stuff about communicating by transmitting and receiving “rays”. Don’t get what he’s on about.]

11. Adaptation

223-8 On stage and in life we adapt our behaviour, voice, mannerisms, etc in response to the situation, who we’re talking to and what we want.

234-9 Many adaptations are unconscious. Also, types of conscious adjustments: rubber stamps / stereotypes / stencils originate from the theatrical routine and are lifeless; adaptations suggested by other people, e.g. director, other actors (but always adapt these to your own needs). Mechanical adjustments can be subconscious or conscious — natural human adaptations that become habitual. [These are good apparently, but I don’t understand how they differ from rubber stamps.]

12. Inner Motive Force

245-7 “Three impelling movers in our psychic life”: mind, will and feelings.

249 You can use any of the three to initiate the creative process, and it will in turn prompt the others. [I’m losing him here.]

13. The Unbroken Line

252-7 The life of a character should be an unbroken line of events and emotions, but a play only gives us a few moments on that line — we must create the rest to portray a convincing life.

257-260 The actor’s attention must be an unbroken stream attracted by different objects in turn (but not the audience!).

14. The Inner Creative State

261-2 Our “inner motive forces” [what are they?] combine with the “elements” [the techniques, talents, ambitions, etc earlier in the book] “to carry out the purposes of the actor,” with the aim of searching for the common fundamental objective. The “elements” are now called “Elements of the Inner Creative Mood”.

262-3 The creative mood is worse than the normal state because it’s involved with theatre and self-exhibition. Better because it includes solitude in public — spectators rouse creative energy.

263-5 Performance may be bad if the actor’s creative apparatus isn’t functioning or if he has mechanical habits. Or if he hasn’t freshened up an old role. Or stage fright. Or if one element in the composition is wrong. One false note destroys the whole truth.

[All the above in this chapter is very woolly and I’m not sure what he’s saying other than “do everything well”.]

265-6 An actor should arrive at his dressing room two hours before going on for inner preparation. First, relax muscles.

“Then comes: Choose an object — that picture? What does it represent? How big is it? Colours? Take a distant object! Now a small circle, no further than your own feet! Choose some physical objective! Motivate it, add first one and then other imaginative fictions! Make your action so truthful that you can believe in it! Think up various suppositions and suggest possible circumstances into which you put yourself. Continue this until you have brought all of your ‘elements’ into play and then choose one of them. It makes no difference which. Take whichever appeals to you at the time. If you succeed in making that one function concretely (no generalities!) it will draw all the others along in its train.”

15. The Super-Objective

271-3 You should work out the super-objective of the play — everything should converge to carry this out. It must be the fundamental driving force. Easier to determine in a good play. It must have a verb.

273-280 The “through line of action” must guide everyone toward the super objective. All the smaller units and objectives must serve this common purpose.

277-8 If you, say, rejuvenate a play with a modern theme, that must be grafted on to the super-objective, not be a distraction from it.

16. On the Threshold of the Subconscious

285-6 If something happens accidentally on stage (e.g., a chair tipping over)… the actor should learn to use this in his part, as this can draw you closer to the subconscious.

294-5 Achieve a “creative state” (relax appropriate to the part) and then introduce an “unexpected spontaneous incident, a touch of reality” germane to the super objective and line of action. Where to find this touch of truth:

Everywhere: in what you dream, or think, or suppose or feel, in your emotions, your desires, your little actions, internal or external, in your mood, the intonations of your voice, in some imperceptible detail of the production, pattern of movements.

While the excitement of this lasts, “you will be incapable of distinguishing between yourself and the person you are portraying.”

300 The through line of action is made up of a number of large objectives. These contain many smaller objectives, which are transformed into subconscious actions.

301 We need a super-objective which is “in harmony with the intentions of the playwright and at the same time arouses a response in the soul of the actors.”

301-2 The same theme will affect different actors differently. [I’m not clear if the “theme” is the same as the super-objective — he seems to switch between the two terms.] If an actor is given a super-objective he must “filter it through his own being until his own emotions are affected by it.” Else, find the super-objective/theme for himself.


An Actor Prepares was not the easiest read for me, but these notes made the topics easy to comprehend and absorb. Thanks for the help. :)

Posted by Sophie on 9 June 2005, 10:07 am | Link

did you enjoy writing this? i certainly enjoyed reading it. how about a nice chat with me mate nemirivich danchenko. mmm scmeg.

Posted by wayne king on 9 June 2005, 11:22 am | Link

It was interesting, refreshed my memory on a few important pointers and i'm more confident for my theatre exam, thanks!!!

Posted by caroline on 10 June 2005, 11:08 am | Link

wow this was realy helpful thanks a lot. i liked your comments too!!!

Posted by lucy on 10 June 2005, 12:27 pm | Link

Thanks everyone -- I'm glad my notes are proving useful to other people!

If anyone has recommendations for other stuff to read, do post them here. Next on my list (one day) is probably Uta Hagen's 'Respect for Acting'.

Posted by Phil on 10 June 2005, 12:43 pm | Link

These notes are great! They have been helping me for weeks while reading this semi-difficult read and helping me get better scores. Thanks again!

Posted by Joy on 14 September 2005, 5:14 pm | Link

lets hope this will help tu see urself more clearly that where u syand and where u should be.........

Posted by isha on 22 September 2005, 6:24 am | Link

The notes have helped me to interperate and analyse Stanislavski's work to a greater extent and improove me as an actor in this proession.

Posted by Sam on 24 September 2005, 7:55 pm | Link

It's one of those rare internet moments where you find exactly what you're looking for

Posted by Alex on 25 September 2005, 1:00 pm | Link

Thanks Dude this was choice!!! I can understand what we did in class now!

Posted by Emerald on 18 October 2005, 10:26 am | Link

Nice one, couldn't agree more with Alex. A pleasure to read and instantly helpful

Posted by Paul on 21 November 2005, 2:51 pm | Link

Truly helpful this page... you have summarised his work brilliantly...this has helped me with and essay thanks a lot... Is Dave your name ? thanks a lot friend.

Posted by James on 22 November 2005, 8:10 pm | Link

My name's Phil, but thanks anyway :)

Posted by Phil on 22 November 2005, 10:24 pm | Link

Thanks for providing this helpful page. Great stuff.

Posted by Elisa on 24 November 2005, 5:11 pm | Link


Posted by yemi Blaq on 30 November 2005, 10:47 am | Link

Hi phil, you got any stuff on the magic if and given circumstances etc.

i got an essay question here for tomoro !

As an actor, how would you use Stanislavsky’s ideas on "given circumstances" and "the magic if" when preparing a role for performance.

Posted by John on 11 December 2005, 4:29 pm | Link

u need to put somthing about internal and external preparartion for a role everything else was well good and help me very much!!!!!

thank you
Usman Rules

Posted by Leanne Maunsell on 15 December 2005, 11:34 am | Link

This was very helpful; thank you. Hopefully I can write my theatre essay now..

Posted by Rei on 19 December 2005, 11:11 pm | Link

I really thank you for doing that, it's a must to have it with the book, I'll print and keep it. You did an amzing job. I suggest you to read Micheal Chekhov's On The Technic Of Acting, he was Stanislawski's student, and it's very interesting, he's deeper than Utha, but all my respect to Utha, I saw her on stage. I hope you'll have more like this, and if there is anyone else, they could do the same thing. It will only grow our knowledge and help all of us, what a great idea man, U ROCK.

Posted by Jegajee on 26 December 2005, 10:14 pm | Link

Thankyou so much for these. We were given this book to read as part of my seminar course at university, and I made notes as i read, however its good that these aer here because i can see where i misinterpreted things, or clean missed them!! thanks again!!

Posted by David Moss on 10 January 2006, 7:51 pm | Link

Thanks millions for these notes; they helped my presentation group (who hadn't read the chapters they were supposed to read...) get ready for a presentation the day before.

Posted by Tiana on 3 March 2006, 11:25 pm | Link

Your summary of 'The unbroken line' really helped me to flesh out a research project. The earlier comment of this being a rare internet moment of finding what you are looking for is very very true- Thank you.

Posted by Phil on 10 April 2006, 3:13 pm | Link

Brecht is fine. Stanislavski was more complicated for me due to the psychological side. you made it much easier for me to understand. Many thanks

Posted by Tom Chamberlin on 22 April 2006, 3:09 pm | Link

This site is so helpful as i was struggling to undersand stanislavski's methods and i waqs beginning to panic as the exam day draws nearer. thanks again this may just help me pass my exam

Posted by Siobhan on 26 April 2006, 2:07 pm | Link

Thanks for your help!

Posted by Emma on 4 May 2006, 9:28 am | Link

Phil really.....thanks a lot friend...i got my AS coming up ....and u have eased my mind a u like beer.....we will go out for a beer mate :)

Posted by John on 7 May 2006, 11:18 pm | Link

this web site is a life saver! i was so confused by stan's book but they way you put it makes it seem so simple! thanks xxx

Posted by lizzy on 11 May 2006, 5:43 pm | Link

I just thought you deserved to know that you are quite possibly my new best friend. I've a theatre essay due tomorrow and because it also happens to be final exam week I have read hardly a word of this book. I think I'll be fine thanks to this. It's wonderful; keep up the brilliant work.
Truly a moment of the Internet coming through for me in a big way. :-)

Posted by Becky on 12 May 2006, 2:01 am | Link

Not much I can say that hasn't been cited above - four days now until my exam and it has been far easier using your notes and page references rather than reading the damn thing!
As far as the stuff about 'rays' goes, the way I interpret it is that he's trying to say that to communicate meaning you need to be aware of subtle messages - it all pretty much links to what he says about 'living the part' and being truthful on stage... If you really feel and experience what you are trying to communicate then you are able to send these 'rays' that hold subtle meaning.

Anyway, thanks for being one of those useful webby people who actually puts up relevant and interesting info for the benefit of people like me!

Posted by Bobbi on 5 June 2006, 4:06 pm | Link

Hi Phil,

I'm not an actor but in a way being a lyricist and a singer has its similarities to acting. When I first read this book, it radically changed my approach to lyric writing and performing and it brought about some positive results.

Your notes and the excerpts from "An Actor Prepares" will help me solidify the concepts and techniques dramatized in Stanislavski's book.

Thank you, Phil.


Joey Driven

Posted by Joey Driven on 5 June 2006, 8:49 pm | Link

oh you are such a lifesaver! i really couldnt get my head around all an actor prepares but these notes broke it down! thankyou! i owe my theatre studies AS to you! haha! thanks, emily

Posted by emily on 8 June 2006, 6:46 pm | Link

hullo phil. :) thanks for making an actor prepares accessible. cheers.

Posted by kash on 19 July 2006, 10:30 am | Link

awesome!very helpful in understanding dtan more,and also it does help me to understand acting in general. i agree with alex.


Posted by phil m on 24 September 2006, 8:04 pm | Link

I can finnaly do my theatre studdies essay now!!!

Posted by Matthew de Klerk on 30 September 2006, 3:50 pm | Link

hey this is really useful. made my reading so much easier because this helped me to understand more..

Posted by Lara on 9 October 2006, 11:12 am | Link

Hey, hey, HEY!!
Great stuff you've got here! You know, its so much easier when the text is altered to suit our generation. Very Helpful

Posted by Ana on 23 October 2006, 11:25 am | Link

This has soooo just helped me with my assignment.

Thank you.


Posted by Louise on 29 October 2006, 11:56 am | Link

Thanks for the notes on Uta, and Stanislavski, it just so happens that my university exam are on these two books and i haven't read them!!! Haha

Posted by Patrick Tytgat on 15 December 2006, 4:45 pm | Link

I failed theatre studies AS because of this. THANKS A LOT

Posted by jake on 18 December 2006, 3:23 pm | Link

No problem Jake! I'm sure your failure had nothing at all to do with however you chose to use my notes or your own reading of the book.

Posted by Phil Gyford on 18 December 2006, 4:06 pm | Link

Well you can stop being so sarcastic rite away! I actually copied the whole section on emotion memory and magic if and I wrote that down in my exam and I got an F!!
I took the time to copy the secion down on the inside of my bicep and it doesn't help anyway because the content is not good enough.

Posted by jake on 20 December 2006, 5:24 pm | Link

Not sure what Jake is on about (odd drama-type...) but I got an A in my theatre AS thanks to this page - now my entire class is resitting the paper except for me. I'd say that pretty much speaks for itself.

Posted by Bobbi on 9 January 2007, 11:38 am | Link

Is this a joke? Seriously. Jake, did you just actually admit to cheating on your exam with Phil's content written on your bicep (that's priceless by the way), fail the exam and then actually blame Phil for your incompetence as a student in addition to your ignorance to the possibility that maybe your instructor knew you were reading scribble off your flesh and transferring said scribble to the paper on your desk? What a silly dude. Phil - you know what you're talking about. It was a pleasure to refresh myself on this book with your notes. Keep it comin'. Jake - you're an idiot.

Posted by Matthew Montgomery on 15 January 2007, 7:33 pm | Link

I support Jake!!!! Websites like this one should have a serious disclaimer

*** May cause you to fail on your exam because I don't know what I'm talking about ***


I didn't do anything stupid like COPYING the text onto my ARM insted I MEMORISED IT and wrote it FROM memory. I ALSO RECEIVED AN F FOR FAILIURE


Posted by Paul Ascough on 16 January 2007, 10:32 pm | Link

OMG, jake and paul are so stupid! I don't even take theatre, but i still passed my exam. I seriously love your work man.


Posted by Danny on 16 January 2007, 10:39 pm | Link

As everyone else in the world knows, if you just copy out some text you found, especially some random text you found on the internet, no matter what it is, you deserve an F.

I'll probably delete any further comments along the lines of "this page made me fail my exam" because anyone who thinks such a failure is due to this page (whether the page is good or bad) rather than their own deficiencies doesn't deserve the attention.

Posted by Phil Gyford on 17 January 2007, 4:05 pm | Link

Dear Phil,

Just a brief note to say thank you for sharing your notes and your great analysis on the above with us.

I am a budding actress and often feel I need to go back to where I started and remember the fundamental teachings of acting as it is so important to go back to the books!

I feel you have refreshed my memory on so many things and helped me to understand things I had not understood before.

So although I did not use your notes for any of my exams whilst at uni or theatre school, I feel your notes are very useful post education and would just like to thank you for helping me with this.

With Thanks & Best Wishes

Posted by Anon on 27 January 2007, 2:02 pm | Link

Thaaaaaaaaaaaank you!! Life saver!! Could you also possibly look at Brecht and Berkoff and take me through them step by step....? Hehe. Cheers though, really really useful! xxx

Posted by Siobhan on 30 January 2007, 1:27 pm | Link

Doe anybody knoe about the lighting techniques that Stanslavski used? i have no idea!

Posted by Aimee on 31 January 2007, 4:31 pm | Link

It's good to see a more digestable version of An Actor Prepares. Very refreshing and brief! I've read him, not easy, but I have encountered very few russian autors who didn't repeat themselves endlessly and didn't try their very best to blugeon the reader to death with a thickness in prose equal to that of lead, but enjoyable all the same. Thank you.
Could you look into some of the symbolism of Moby Dick?
May God torment the soul of Hermin Melville.

Posted by Adam on 14 March 2007, 1:38 pm | Link

Im doing an assignment on stanslavski and his system (given circumstances, magic if, psychological truth and emotional recall). I kinda need some help. I have researched and found some information but not much. Can you please give me some brief info on the topic's. Thank you very much.

Posted by Teagan on 20 March 2007, 10:20 am | Link

thanks for breakig things down
made it so much easier!


Posted by kay on 22 March 2007, 1:42 pm | Link

thank's a lot i missed a lesson on concetration of attention at college and got asked to read up on the subject but this really helped and stuff i thought i knew i know even more!


Posted by Vikki on 30 March 2007, 2:49 pm | Link

Have you read "The Power of the Actor"?
or Larry Moss's Book?

Posted by Gary Zahalsky on 5 April 2007, 9:56 pm | Link

Oh, i have read uta hagen's the rehearsal, and it was really good. it made a lot of interesting points about the do's and dont's of rehearsals. you should read that next! :]

Posted by Jessica on 29 April 2007, 9:54 pm | Link

Oh, i have read uta hagen's the rehearsal, and it was really good. it made a lot of interesting points about the do's and dont's of rehearsals. you should read that next! :]

Posted by Jessica on 29 April 2007, 9:54 pm | Link

This site was exactly what I was looking for! Had you done this for Uta Hagen's Respect for Acting, my essay last semester would probably been a lot better haha. Thank you very much!

Posted by Kayli on 15 May 2007, 4:09 am | Link

No problem Kayli... although, as it says in the first paragraph of the page, I do have <a href="" rel="nofollow">notes on 'Respect for Acting'</a>.

Posted by Phil Gyford on 15 May 2007, 6:18 am | Link

For the people who just copied/memorised the wonder you failed for this is just a brief breakdown of each subject!

Thanks a lot! This breakdown really helped me, especially on the Inner Motive Forces

Posted by Soph on 23 May 2007, 1:26 pm | Link

I was about to do such a thing, but you saved me a lot of trouble, so thank you!

Posted by Cezar Lazar on 6 June 2007, 6:42 pm | Link

yo man life saver.
im not going to do anything stupid like copy it on to my arm or memorise...pmsl.... but this site has really cleared alot of stuff up for me and makes sense of stuff that my teacher just rambled about for god knows how long. if your online which i doubt could u recommend a site perhaps where quotes directly from the book are acccesible for magic if, units and objectives and emotional memory as these are ones that i need quotes for and my litle brother put the book in his cereal yesterday!
cheers any ways for your help on this!

Posted by dave on 7 June 2007, 10:06 pm | Link

Absolutely usefull !!!!!

I not only enjoyed this reading, but yes learnt alot from this reading. The way every topis is described is appreciating. Acting is Reacting !

I really want to thanks you for providing us with these wonderfull notes !!!!!!

Paddy !

Posted by Passy S on 15 July 2007, 10:56 am | Link

These steps are great. I love you wayne king, but your parents didn't!

Posted by Wayne Ker on 31 August 2007, 4:58 am | Link

Thanks for taking the time to do this, it was really awesome to be able to refresh on the book in just a few minutes!

Posted by Alan on 24 October 2007, 4:25 pm | Link

I have found these chapter summaries really helpful especialy since An Actor Prepares isnt an easy read.

Posted by Imogen on 20 November 2007, 9:31 am | Link

Thank you so much for these notes! The book has become so much more clearer to me!

Posted by Lauren on 23 November 2007, 9:48 am | Link

The thing you put before, about not knowing what S meant by "transmitting and receiving “rays” " . What he meant was basically was that when you are communicating with somebody, you use your eyes and there is always that bond between you whilst you are communicating, and those are the rays. Hope this helps =)

Posted by Rachael on 3 January 2008, 4:57 pm | Link

When he talks about rays in section 10, he's merely referring to transmitting emotions without actually speaking. Think about that special someone in your life. When you're with them, there are moments when words don't seem to be needed and you can literally feel the love and passion between you. That is what he means by rays. When you are with a close friend or family member, you can usually guess at how they are feeling without even asking, these are rays. Humans send and receive these "rays" (unspoken emotions) unconsciously all the time. What Stanislavsky is saying here is that we as actors must learn to do this effortlessly and consciously all the time.

Posted by Sean on 5 January 2008, 8:49 pm | Link

AS exam tomorrow. Thanks for this, it's a legend.

Posted by Lucy on 8 January 2008, 6:03 pm | Link

phil, i thank you. you just saved me from reading 300 pages the night before. you're brilliant.

Posted by Nikole on 21 January 2008, 12:08 am | Link

Hey man,
This was perfect for me! Thank you so much for posting it,

I was wondering if you have the publishing details and stuff so I can reference it in an essay using the Harvard method... Thanks man
really helpful!

Posted by Seth on 15 April 2008, 9:11 pm | Link

THANKS DUDE my AS is tmro and you have savvved me!

Posted by maria bello on 3 June 2008, 9:06 am | Link

Really good, i've been reading loads of Stan, i wish i saw this earlier!! Good work, really to the point and concise, easy read..more please!

Posted by sinead on 5 November 2008, 8:25 pm | Link

hey, i am not sure if you were referencing the hard cover version of this book but the page numbers didn't match up with my copy. I have the paper back version and I am pretty sure the pages numbers are off between the two. You may want to let people know which version you were using so there isn't any confusion.

Posted by Sarah on 9 December 2008, 3:06 am | Link

Hi Sarah, I was using the <a href="" rel="nofollow">Methuen Drama edition</a>.

Posted by Phil Gyford on 9 December 2008, 8:59 am | Link

this article was very easy to read, i'm getting the book in spanish(i live in mexico). thank you very much for your contribution (:

Posted by julieta on 17 December 2008, 8:10 pm | Link

Wow thanks. I had to read this and write a paper on my thoughts of what CS said and taught. I read about 5 chapters of the book and thought my head was going to explode. This really puts everything into perspective.

Posted by Slate on 18 December 2008, 5:19 am | Link

Thank you!! Very helpful revision for the upcoming exam I have on Stan. Much more readable and accesible than the book itself!

Posted by Bex on 1 January 2009, 8:10 pm | Link

Thank you so much for taking the time to make these notes, it is really appreciated! and as so many people have said they were just what I was looking for :)

Posted by Mazz on 11 January 2009, 3:54 pm | Link

im doing an IB theater course and this really helped me!
thanks so much.
your Uta Hagen review was also very helpful.
have you studied other theorists such as Boleslavky or Barba?

Posted by Katya Baker on 14 January 2009, 4:50 am | Link

this website just helped me ace my acting midterm. I had to do a chart with 9 theories from an actor prepares, and i put in 14. extra credit is a beautiful thing.

Posted by katie h on 23 January 2009, 2:52 am | Link

RAWR thats right i Say RAWR... i need to kno Of a monologue that
konstantin stanislavski DID
can you help me out?
i need the Acctual monologue for my Drama class :P thxx

Posted by Carl.Appa.Smidge on 4 February 2009, 1:38 pm | Link

lol, reading some of the comments, about people complaining about how this website made them fail their exam, hilarious!

I've been using this website as quick reference guide to dive deeper into "An Actor Prepares" since Stanislavski did tend to waffle on a bit (bless him) :)

Thanks a bundle, real help with my essay!

Posted by Dasher on 16 May 2009, 8:46 pm | Link

wow. its almost philosophical.
thanks for this reveiw! its great it helped me alot!

Posted by audrey on 11 August 2009, 5:46 am | Link

An Actor Prepares is a really difficult book to read and absorb the first read through. And it's such a complex, long book that you really don't have the will power to read it again. This is really an excellent guide. I took notes by myself, but they were so immense and i felt like everything was important.

This is a beautiful guide. Thank you so much! I really can't thank you enough.

Posted by annabel lee on 22 August 2009, 1:34 am | Link

Awesome! Once again, thank you so much. I have a graduate degree and read this stuff many years ago. Reading it again, I find your notes very helpful because they are so concise. You have a great way of boiling things down. By the way, any teacher who suspects something has been copied from the internet or other book or periodical, only has to type in a sentence (at one of several academic websites) and they will be told whether the paper has been copied. I suspect that those Bozos got Fs because they were caught cheating. Also, from their poor writing, I'd guess that their teachers thought what they wrote (your notes) were way too good for them to have come up with on their own. I'm glad you kept the messages up though, because they were so entertaining, and I needed a good laugh! Thanks.

Posted by Kelly on 27 August 2009, 8:51 pm | Link

This is beyond brilliant! Thankyou so much!
Oh and was Jake Joking?

Posted by Jas on 3 October 2009, 12:55 pm | Link

Thanks a million, your notes while reading the book really helped me to really understand him and put some of the tools to action.

Posted by Rafael on 1 December 2009, 8:18 pm | Link

Thanks for these notes indeed!!

I am writting my first assignment about Stanislavski Naturalism and all this will deffinately help me a lot.

Thanks loads,

Please feel free to e-mail me any other tips and notes !!

Tara - Ciao!

Posted by Bella on 12 December 2009, 5:40 pm | Link

Just googled 'read an actor prepares online' and this came up. Much easier than reading through a whole loads of events and dialogue written in a book to try to to find the most important bits.

I'd still reccommend reading the actual book ('Stanislavski: An Actor Prepares') but this was very helpful and really jogged my memory. Thanks!

Posted by PJ on 28 December 2009, 5:06 pm | Link

A nice summary. I'd recommend everyone try to read the real thing, tough as it is, as this is an excellent refresher but at the end of the day there's a reason the guy wrote the whole book!
Definitely a good source to go back to for key points.
Just a thought - at the end there is some confusion between "super-objective" and "theme" (Stan isn't always clear!). From my own reading of the book and other studies, might I suggest that while "super-objective" refers to a specific's character's override goal and purpose ('I wish to love forever happily with Juliet'), the word "theme" refers to the overall message of the play ('To paint a portrait of the nature of love')?
If anyone would care to take a look at the final chapter and give a second opinion?

Posted by Ami on 2 February 2010, 4:03 pm | Link

Thanks a lot! This is very helpful because after you read a book and take a quiz, you tend to forget the key points in time for the final exam. So, this helped me remember again. As for those who complained... wow, these websites are simply intended to help or remind you and give you the most important points, not the whole scoop. Had you done your homework and actually read the entire book like you were supposed to, you would not have failed. OBVIOUSLY, there are people who have never heard of plagiarism and how it can get you an F!

Posted by me on 22 February 2010, 2:47 am | Link

I would suggest Jean Benedetti's translation for anyone who's interested in a clearer and less paradoxical interpretation of Stanislavski's work.

Also Phil, you might enjoy Jerzy Grotowski's Towards a Poor Theatre.

Posted by teichfe on 10 June 2010, 11:05 pm | Link

D book is nt easy to understand. Bt dis points R understandble. Hwever,actng and actors cnt b defined.

Posted by Punit Kaur Raina on 10 July 2010, 11:19 am | Link

These notes are extremely useful! I’m currently reading the book myself and making my own notes but these clear everything up for me and back me up on mine so I know im not heading off down a wrong path... thanks :)

Posted by Catherine on 17 August 2010, 5:05 pm | Link

These notes are great. I looked through these after taking my own notes to see if there was anything I could add and found that the consise way you explained some of the topics really helped cement things in my head. Acting itself is often an instinctual thing once you've done this sort of training, but it never hurts to go back to the theory and really understand it. Thankyou for taking the time to do this!

Posted by Sophie on 29 August 2010, 3:02 am | Link

I'm a college theatre major and I had to write a 10 page paper on this book and this page helped me out SOOO much!
It cleared up many things I was confused about.
Thanks so much!

Posted by Sarah on 16 November 2010, 2:27 am | Link

Dear Phil,
As a freshman of High School, I have been open to new things, such as acting (not acting in general but classes to possible make acting not justa hobby). I'm starting to get off topic, however This month after the much needed Thanksgiving Day Vacation (YAY), My drama club and I are to be attending districts. However this context is not your and I was unable to obtain the book the notes were writen from just reading your inquiry of the book help me understand somethings I could work on before my first competive play.
Much Thanks,
Christopher Baker

Posted by Christopher Baker on 20 November 2010, 12:26 am | Link

Cheers for this!

Posted by Lara on 17 March 2011, 12:18 pm | Link

this is a good and practical guide, used it for my playmaking course at the university of zimbabwe it helped out a lot.

Posted by tafadzwa sigauke on 31 May 2011, 6:36 pm | Link

HiPhil and company,
Always loved the work of Stanislavsky, and in 15 years of acting it remained a challenge - a lovely challenge, like wanting to give as much and as best to a lover as possible in all circumstances.
But I have a question. Somewhere in my memories of his writing and my study of it, I remember a quote:
"Find the truth and make it beautiful."
Perhaps this is a distillation of his writing rather than a quote, I'm not sure. But if you know of it, please let me know.

It took me a couple of years to find its meaning for me. For quite a while I interpreted the "beauty" part as cute or pretty - surface, thin, possibly fake.
Gradually realized that this beauty has to be so much more - that as actors we have to find the beauty in the hurricane or volcano or snowstorm; not just the beauty of the first kiss but the tearing of a love, the betrayal, the wink across the room, all: all our actions, good and bad. This is not an implication that we accept the actions or approve, there is no morality in the action - it is after all, a fiction.
In any case, the sentence has remained with me, not only as an actor, but also as an educator. If you have seen it elsewhere, please let me know.
Bob Parson

Posted by Bob Parson on 16 June 2011, 2:29 pm | Link
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