“To live is to act. Each day in which you have not replenished your education, consider it dead and irrevocable for yourself. ”
Konstantin Sergeevich was born 5 (17) in January 1863, in the city of Moscow, in the family of Sergey Vladimirovich Alekseev - one of the most prominent industrialists of the Russian Empire. The father of the future actor was engaged in weaving, and also had his own gold factory, which produced rare gold embroidery for military and civilian uniforms. In addition, he was known for charitable activities. His wife, Elizaveta Vasilyevna, was the daughter of actress Marie Varley and Vasily Yakovlev, the owner of Finnish quarries, where granite was mined for the Alexandrian pillar and St. Isaac's Cathedral. Numerous children of the Alekseevs (there were ten of them altogether, but one boy died in infancy) had a huge staff of tutors and had been studying at home for a long time. Only after the decree on all-estate military service, Sergey Vladimirovich, appeared in 1874, in order to avoid the future call-up of boys for military service as privates, he gave them to the gymnasium. At the same time, as it turned out, home training was conducted rather badly, as a result of which the future director had to start studying not in the third (according to age), but in the first grade.
The teenager was studying mediocrely, the reason for which was not his laziness, but rather rather stupid education - in the gymnasium many foreign teachers taught, disgustingly speaking Russian, but at the same time demanding children to have perfect knowledge of Latin, Greek, French and German. In 1878, the brothers were transferred to the Lazarev Institute of Foreign Languages. Studying there was put somewhat better, but this did not affect the assessments of Constantine. In 1881 he left there. The reason was the lack of assiduity and patience in a young man, without which, as we know, it is impossible to succeed in learning languages. In addition, the active and energetic Alekseev could not bear the cramming, which, by the way, affected later. Having become an actor, he memorized the texts rather poorly and often became confused with them.
Practically all the children of the Alekseevs family were passionately fond of the theater, which in past centuries, with the absence of the Internet, television and radio, played a huge role in the lives of wealthy people. Often, in the Alekseevs' house itself, amateur performances were held. Becoming older, Constantine began to organize his own home performances. In the games he was attended not only by brothers and sisters, but also by some friends. Everything was done for real, even the entrance tickets were drawn. And even later, Kostya opened his own puppet theater, giving performances to his relatives, as well as his father’s servants.
In 1877, the Alekseevs family was seriously fascinated by the amateur theater, and Sergei Vladimirovich opened his own theater room in the estate near Lyubimovka, where he began to stage amateur performances. The most popular theatrical genre at that time was vaudeville. The action, as a rule, took place in the distant past, the heroes wore swords, flaunted themselves in high boots and acted against the background painted on the backdrop of medieval castles. Pieces of this kind quickly became boring, in connection with which the theaters had to update their repertoire almost weekly. To prepare a new job in such a short time was not easy - the actors barely had time to learn the text, and no one talked about serious work on the role. Rescued well-developed actors stamps - spectacular gestures and poses, clear, enhanced articulation, skills of a sudden explosion - the transition from shouting to a whisper, or vice versa. Techniques of this kind operated smoothly, but for novice actors it was very difficult to study them. Nevertheless, Kostya was ready to do anything to get on the stage of his father’s theater. The debut performance of the Alekseevsky circle was 5 September 1877. Amateur artists prepared two vaudeville, and Konstantin Sergeevich took part in both performances.
After Alekseev reached the age of twenty, his father began to teach him to his craft. The young man spent a long time in his father's office, learning the basics of managing large-scale production. Nevertheless, the young man’s main interests lay in the field of art, and Sergei Vladimirovich, seeing this, in January 1886 helped his son to become one of the directors of the Moscow Conservatory, along with celebrities like Sergey Taneyev and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. By this time, Konstantin Sergeevich had passed a considerable creative path, which consisted in diverse, but not too successful, search for himself. At first, the Alekseevsky circle that existed in Lyubimovka was enough for him, but over the years, the sisters and older brother had gotten married and broke up with the theater. Arthur Sullivan's Operetta Mikado, presented in April by 1887, was their last production. Konstantin Sergeevich, overwhelmed by creative torment, sought to perform as much as possible, believing that gaining experience would give him the opportunity to master acting skills. Back in October, 1885 Alekseev entered the Moscow Theater School, but, being among green youth, he left classes three weeks later. For some time he took singing lessons from the famous tenor Fyodor Komissarzhevsky, but soon he became convinced that the standing singer would not leave him. Thanks to his acquaintance with the famous actress Glykeria Fedotova, the young man took part in a number of productions together with the actors of the Maly Theater. In addition, Konstantin Sergeevich often “descended” before performances in operettes of dubious content. Trying to hide it from his relatives, in the spring of 1884 he adopted the pseudonym "Stanislavsky". That is how the leading actor was once called in the amateur theater located on Srednaya Kislovka. After the departure of the latter from the theater, Alekseev took over his role and also “inherited” a pseudonym. However, this did not save the new Stanislavsky - very soon, to his dismay, he discovered his parents in the auditorium ...
It is easy to guess that the rich, beautiful, young manufacturer and actor Konstantin Alekseev liked women. However, there were his “buts” that forced him to lead a decent life. Firstly, the parents of the young man were very strict morals, and secondly, Stanislavsky had his own sin - 16 June 1883, the son of the family, Avdotya Kopylova, had a son, Vladimir. Formally illegitimate son Constantine adopted Alekseev Sr. Years later, he became a famous professor of Moscow State University and a prominent Soviet anti-scholar. His wife, Maria Petrovna Perevoshchikova, met Stanislavsky at 1888, becoming her partner in the play for Schiller's “Insidiousness and Love”. The premiere took place in April 1889, and in early July they were married. Their union lasted until the death of the actor. They gave birth to girls Ksenia (who died in infancy) and Kira, as well as their son Igor.
In 1885, director Alexander Fedotov arrived in the capital, who was inflamed by the desire to stage the play Ruble with the participation of amateur artists. Invited and Konstantin Sergeevich. The experience turned out to be successful, as a result of which an idea appeared on the basis of the amateur troupe to establish the “Society of literature and arts” Stanislavsky, who very well received the capital from his father, gave money, and in early November 1888 such a society was opened. For him, in the center of Moscow, a theater building was rented, in which there were premises for musicians and artists, as well as a theater school. Fedotov continued to work with the theater troupe, staging several performances of the modern and classical repertoire. Soon the director left his wards, but his place was taken by ex-wife Glykeria Nikolaevna. Of course, Konstantin Sergeevich played leading roles in the performances. The creative throwing of these years, Stanislavsky subsequently evaluated very critically, calling himself a "tasteless copyist." He admitted that relying on various external effects, mindlessly exploited the young temperament, and if that did not help, “on the veins” pulled out of himself the passion required in the course of the action.
Despite the success of the performances, two years later, "Society" found itself on the verge of bankruptcy. The actors were forced to move to a modest room, located on Povarskaya Street. In order to survive, the amateur theater accepted the offer of the Hunting Club to stage a weekly (!) New performance in its premises. Since Glykeriya Fedotova could not cope alone with such a load, other experienced actors of the Maly Theater began to be invited to help her. However - the most important thing - in 1891, Stanislavsky himself took the direction. His first experience of this kind was the comedy Tolstoy "The Fruits of Enlightenment." The performance was a huge success, and this prompted the great reformer of the theater to continue the work begun.
The last decade of the nineteenth century was a turning point in the life of Stanislavsky. In 1893, his father passed away, and he became one of the directors of the large Alekseevs and Co. association. However, the main thing for him was still work in the theater. Becoming a director, Konstantin Sergeevich continued his acting activity, as a result of which he received the opportunity to look at the scene from different angles of view. Constantly experimenting, he sought to achieve the naturalness of his behavior on stage. He did not succeed in this at all times, but the public was mostly pleased with Stanislavsky's play.
June 21, 1897 Konstantin Sergeyevich received a message from the famous theater teacher and playwright Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko. It contained a proposal for a meeting, which took place the next day in the famous at that time restaurant “Slavic Bazaar”. During the conversation, Vladimir Ivanovich told the young director his idea about the foundation of a fundamentally new theater, created on completely different than usual artistic, organizational and aesthetic principles. To accomplish this, Nemirovich-Danchenko put forward a proposal to unite a semi-professional team led by Stanislavsky with graduates of his theater school operating under the capital's philharmonic society, as well as to strengthen the troupe with a number of experienced actors from the province. Konstantin Sergeyevich supported his idea, and in the end they agreed to divide the powers in this way: Nemirovich-Danchenko took care of all organizational issues and the formation of the repertoire, and Stanislavsky - the artistic leadership. They decided to stage performances together - the first worked with the actors on their roles, the second - determined the overall "drawing" of the production. In case of discrepancies, everyone could veto decisions relating to his “diocese”. This historical for the Russian theater, the conversation lasted a total of 18 hours and ended at the Stanislavsky estate at 8 am the next day.
By the autumn of 1898, an enormous amount of work had been done - sources of funding were found, a theater building was removed and prepared, a team of actors was assembled, and a repertoire of the new Public Art Theater was created. In the Karetny Lane in the premises of the Hermitage Theater in mid-October 1898 hosted the first premiere - it was the tragedy of Alexei Tolstoy "Tsar Fedor Ivanovich" with Ivan Moskvin in the title role. The spectators found the performance an enthusiastic reception - actors, dressed in ancient costumes, unusual direction, a simple and at the same time convincing acting game amazed. Another test of the Art Theater was the production of Chekhov’s play “The Seagull”, which by that time had safely fallen on the stage of the Alexandria Theater. The play initially seemed to Stanislavsky unvaluable and boring, but at the request of Nemirovich-Danchenko, he nevertheless took up the development of a director's production plan and suddenly became interested in Chekhov's strange work. Illuminated by work and actors who have never before had to deal with plays of this kind. At rehearsals, Anton Pavlovich himself visited, who liked the creative atmosphere that reigned in the new theater. In December, 1898 held its premiere, and the pressure of the actors was great. After the end of the first act in the hall, there was a long pause, during which one of the actresses fainted, but deafening applause sounded after that. Further actions of the production the audience met even more hotly. This success determined the nature of the creative development of the new theater, and the image of the seagull is still its emblem.
At the turn of the century, Chekhov's plays were the tuning fork of the Art Theater, which in 1901 lost the word “public” in its name. After “The Seagull”, “Uncle Vanya” appeared on the stage in 1899, in “Three Sisters” in 1901, and “The Cherry Orchard” in 1904. Stanislavsky staged all these plays together with Nemirovich-Danchenko. In addition, he himself played major roles: Gaev in The Cherry Orchard, Astrov in Uncle Van, Trigorin in The Seagull, Vershinin in The Three Sisters. It was these works that helped Konstantin Sergeevich to formulate what was later called the “Stanislavsky system”. The name, by the way, is largely conditional, as the set of means hiding under this definition for developing the creative abilities of actors includes not only the personal experience of Konstantin Sergeyevich, but also the experience of other directors and artists of the Art Theater - Nemirovich-Danchenko, Meyerhold, Kachalov, Sulerzhitskogo, Moskvin. Stanislavsky did not do much alone, but he summarized what he saw, which certainly does not detract from his merits. One of the basic principles of the "system" is expressed by the well-known formula: "Love art in yourself, and not yourself in art." In other words, an actor on the stage is obliged not to “pull a blanket over himself”, not to strive to present himself more effectively to the detriment of his stage mates. In the Art Theater there was a merciless struggle with the “star” - Nemirovich-Danchenko and Stanislavsky refused to benefit, and later banned the actors to go on the course of the action to the challenges of the audience. The main criterion in staging the performances was their integrity, for which even the leading artists retreated into the background. And to find ways to allow the actor to grasp the author's intentions and at the time of the stage action to become a character of the play, to live his thoughts and his feelings, Stanislavsky developed a number of special exercises.
Four seasons Moscow Art Theater worked in poorly adapted premises of the Hermitage until the famous philanthropist Savva Morozov bought all their shares from the theater shareholders and erected a modern theater building in Kamergersky Lane. The first actors to play at the new location at the end of October 1902 were Gorky's “Tradesmen”. The premiere was a huge success, becoming a prelude to another important event for the theater. The management of the theater decided to put “At the bottom” - the next play by a young, but already widely known writer. At that time for the country, the time shown by the “artists” in December 1902 saw the performance about the occupants of the dock, the democratic public perceived as revolutionary, and the phrase “Man - sounds proudly” said by the hero of Stanislavsky spread all over Russia. Despite the fact that the leaders of the Arts Theater tried their best to dissociate themselves from politics, in those years the Moscow Art Theater was perceived as a mouthpiece of democratic ideas. In this regard, in 1904, Nemirovich-Danchenko, due to excessive politicization, refused to give Gorky’s play “Summer Residents”, as a result of which the theater lost the support of Savva Morozov. However, the Moscow Art Theater managed to survive. The first tours abroad helped this partly - the troupe went to Austria-Hungary and Germany on 1906, giving them a total of sixty-two performances.
In those years, Gorky said: “The art theater is as significant as St. Basil’s and the Tretyakov Gallery. It’s impossible not to love him, it’s not a crime to work for him. ” The influence of the Moscow Art Theater on world theater culture is truly global, and the point here is not at all in the “Stanislavsky system”. It was here that for the first time they abandoned most of the external attributes of the nineteenth century, removing, in particular, the orchestra pit. During intermissions, the orchestra stopped playing “glamorous” and bravura melodies, knocking off the general mood created by the actors in the course of the performance. For the same during the performances began to turn off the light. Stanislavsky forbade to let those who are late in the auditorium, thus getting rid of the snobs who considered it a special chic to be late and then in the whole hall to wade to their seats. In addition, the permanent post of theater artist was introduced, who did not just “paint” the backdrops, but together with the directors who formed the image of the play. The production of costumes and scenery especially for each performance was also an innovation (the directors varied the wardrobe and inventory that was available in the theater, or the actors dressed themselves who knew what was going on).
At the end of the first decade of the last century, at the first glance, at the Moscow Art Theater, things were quite well from the creative side - the audience went to the theater, and its actors enjoyed immense popularity. However, Stanislavsky was well aware of the impending crisis. He found that the actors of the theater, led by him, and he himself had developed new, already own, stamps. More and more often, the “artists” preferred not to live in roles, but to mechanically reproduce spent stage settings. In this regard, Konstantin Sergeevich in 1911 began a new search, which caused alienation from the troupe. However, the director was adamant, and only the intervention of Nemirovich-Danchenko, who supported the companion, saved the Art Theater from a split. Back in May, 1905 Stanislavsky provided a separate room for former actor Vsevolod Meyerhold and helped put together a theater-studio, believing that the young director would discover new ways of working with novice actors to reveal their abilities. In the fall, Konstantin Sergeevich looked at the results of the work of the studio and was disappointed. Seeing the skillful directorial work, he did not find any progress with the actors. This circumstance forced him to close the studio, but he did not refuse the idea itself. By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, he formulated the key points of his method of training actors, while he was well aware that the already established actors of the Moscow Art Theater would not be able to fully accept it. The youth is much more susceptible to the new, and therefore Stanislavsky in 1912 decided on a non-standard act - assembled a new studio from young actors and extras of the theater, putting Leopold Sulerzhitsky who had no acting experience at the head. By the way, this distinctive and exceptionally talented person, who had accumulated tremendous life experience by his thirty-five years, perfectly understood the essence of the “Stanislavsky system” and at the same time was free from any stamps. The performances staged by him received a wide response. And in 1914 and 1916, two more studios appeared under the direction of Evgeny Vakhtangov and Vakhtang Mchedelov. Konstantin Sergeevich gave them full creative freedom and, tracking their activities, polished their own theoretical views.
The seventeenth year brought a lot of new things into the life of the Art Theater. The revolution led into the halls of the audience, not versed in theatrical art. It was very difficult to foresee their reaction to what was happening on the stage - the audience cried and laughed often not at all where it was expected. Due to the general uncertainty, the “artists” held on thanks to the classical repertoire - the only premiere of 1917 was the performance of Dostoevsky’s work “The Village of Stepanchikovo”. Following the example of the head of the theater, many artists opened their own acting studios, but did it only to earn money. In addition, in the second decade of the twentieth century cinema began to actively develop. They paid to the cinema quite well, and many actors of the Moscow Art Theater willingly agreed to act in film. Konstantin Sergeevich complained about such a hack-work that was eating away at the creative life of the theater, but could not help it. Fortunately, the Soviet government (mainly in the person of Anatoly Lunacharsky, the former People's Commissar of Education), considered it necessary to preserve some "bourgeois" theaters. Lenin, on the brainchild of Nemirovich-Danchenko and Stanislavsky, spoke most sympathetically: "If there is a theater that we must save and preserve, this is certainly Artistic." In connection with this, in 1918, with the introduction of “war communism,” the actors were put on a ration, but at the same time the theater canceled admission - from now on, all tickets were distributed to Soviet factories and institutions. The composition of the audience has changed once again - often people who came to the theater did not know how to behave in the auditorium. It happened during the intermission, Stanislavsky went on the stage and strictly explained to the audience that it was impossible to eat, click and smoke nuts. But on the scene on the stage for the first time caught in the theater, the audience reacted with a purely childlike spontaneity.
In the hungry 1919 part of the troupe, led by leading actors, went on tour in a relatively "full" Kharkov. In the summer of the same year, Denikin's Volunteer Army launched an attack on Moscow, in the course of which the guest performers found themselves in the whites and were first forced to accept their “rules of the game” and then completely leave Russia. The split of the troupe, which Stanislavsky called a “catastrophe,” lasted three years. At first, the theater leaders who remained in the capital sincerely believed in the imminent reunification of the collective. Moreover, Konstantin Sergeevich, with the help of the remaining artists, tried to make a new production. However, the mystery of Byron "Cain", shown in April 1920, was coldly received by the audience. In the end, the leaders of the Moscow Art Theater had to turn to the First and Second Studios, which at that time were already established teams. The students went to meet, and the result of their collaboration was the play "Inspector", staged by Stanislavsky in October 1921. Gogol's comedy was a phenomenal success (to a large extent due to the play of the young Mikhail Chekhov). So began the time of the renewed Art Theater.
After the end of the civil war in Soviet Russia, there was a new ideological turn, characterized by a transition to the NEP. The Bolsheviks were interested in expanding trade relations with Western states, and therefore it was important for them to change the current image of Soviet Russia. One of the few “export articles” was the Art Theater, which was well known in Europe. Therefore, the new government did not interfere with Konstantin Sergeyevich’s attempts to return part of the Moscow Art Theater troupe that found itself in emigration. As a result, in May 1922 returned home the "most talented and necessary", including Olga Knipper-Chekhova and Vasily Kachalova. And soon the Art Theater himself went abroad on a long tour.
The overseas journey continued from autumn 1922 to autumn 1924. Despite the fact that a separate part of the public (in particular, Russian émigrés) saw in Mkhatovtsy Bolshevik agents, the actors were very warmly received in Prague, Berlin, Paris, Zagreb. A certain surprise mixed in the general - enthusiastic tone of the statements - how could they do that? An interesting tip is in the German newspaper 23 September 1922: “The rehearsal takes place hour after hour without a break or a rest. In their work, these people are possessed; they feel neither thirst, nor hunger, nor fatigue. ” Konstantin Sergeevich, by the way, liked to repeat: “The first thing an actor needs to do when entering the rehearsal room is to stop being a person associated with ordinary life” and “There is only one reason for the actor’s failure to attend the play - death”.
In early January, the 1923 troupe arrived in New York, and five days later it showed the Americans "Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich", who had tremendous success. After three months of performances in the city, held in crowded halls, the Moscow Art Theater moved on a tour of the States. After visiting Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia, Russian artists returned to New York, after which they left for Germany to rest in early June. Stanislavsky himself devoted this time to writing the book My Life in Art. Having recovered their strength, the Mkhatovs returned to the United States and, with no less success, conducted a second tour of the cities of the country. Then followed performances in the capital of France. All in all, the Art Theater gave a performance abroad with the same full-time 561 performances.
In the autumn of 1924, the “artists” returned to their homeland. Successful touring rallied the team, besides the artists very significantly improved their financial situation, since the authorities left them a significant part of the earned currency. However, the theater needed a major overhaul. Having become a rather significant part of the Soviet cultural elite, workers of the Moscow Art Theater were obliged to meet the requirements of the era, for example, make official statements from time to time. This was especially true of the leaders, and Konstantin Sergeyevich, an absolutely apolitical person, was quite difficult to adapt. In addition, the Art Theater had to include in its repertoire a number of Soviet plays. There were very few quality creations of this kind, and most of the “old” theaters in a similar position led a fierce struggle for them. As a result, the classical repertoire of the Moscow Art Theater was diluted with the plays of Konstantin Trenev “Pugachevschina” (1925), Mikhail Bulgakov “Days of the Turbins” (1926) and Vsevolod Ivanov “Armored train 14-69” (1927). 1928 turned out to be a shock in this respect, when on the stage of the theater three whole modern works were presented - Untilovsk by Leonov, Quadrature of the Circle and Rashers of Kataev. A special place among the new productions was taken by the play “Days of the Turbins”, which for some reason was very much loved by Joseph Stalin, who repeatedly visited shows.
Meanwhile, a new era has come, marked by a transition to a centralized management of the country's cultural life. This was a rather unpleasant consequence for the Moscow Art Theater - it was him who Joseph Vissarionovich decided to make the "flagship" of the Soviet theater. Thus, all the activities of the “artists” fell under ideological control, and all of them, both managers and actors, had to officially respond to each party decision. At this time, the health condition of Stanislavsky sharply deteriorated. In late October, Konstantin Sergeyevich, who played the role of Vershinin, had a heart attack during the performance of Chekhov's Three Sisters, devoted to the thirtieth anniversary of the Moscow Art Theater. After the incident, he ceased to appear in the theater, although he did not leave either the director or artistic management. From now on, rehearsals were held at his home - the actors and the director, the lead performance, came to Stanislavsky and analyzed the text of the play, determined the main stage settings and interpretations of the images. Then the performance was prepared without Konstantin Sergeevich, who appeared at the dress rehearsal or final runs and made his own adjustments to the performance.
In the thirties, the Moscow Art Theater's corporate identity began to be molded in truly steel forms, with its monumentality and stillness in many ways resembling the stamps of the old theater. In other words, the situation in the theater was similar to that with which Stanislavsky had fought all his life — with the main difference that there was no longer any way to prevent it. Konstantin Sergeevich understood everything perfectly, but he had to follow the rules of the game established by the authorities, at the end of his life he tried to stay away from his brainchild, devoting more and more time to the Opera Theater in his name, founded in 1926. In addition, in 1935, the stage patriarch organized the Opera and Drama Studio and conducted classes for both dramatic actors and singers. In addition, the director continued daily (from 23 hours of the evening to 3 hours of the night) to work on theoretical works. The book “My life in art” written by him during the tour was republished with X-NUMX with additions and changes. She, according to Konstantin Sergeevich, was the first part of the enormous work devoted to his "system". The second part, called "Actor's work on himself in the creative process of experiencing", Stanislavsky completed before his death, and the last parts - "Actor's work on the role" and "Actor's work on himself in the creative process of incarnation" - the director collected only preparatory materials.
In 1936, Stanislavsky was the first to be awarded the title “People's Artist of the USSR”. At the beginning of 1938, he turned seventy-five years old, and this anniversary was celebrated in the country as a national holiday. Novice actor and future writer Viktor Nekrasov, meeting with a great director at the beginning of June 1938, left the last lifetime description of Konstantin Sergeyevich’s appearance: “Slim, tall, broad-shouldered, straight old man with terribly expressive hands, big face and ironic smiling eyes.” And 7 August 1938 an outstanding theatrical figure suddenly died. In his honor in the newspaper "Pravda" a penetrating article was published, where the name of Stanislavsky was put in line with Mendeleev, Lomonosov, Repin and Surikov.
"The Stanislavsky system" in the twentieth century received worldwide recognition, becoming the most effective way to work with actors. Two conditions contributed to its spread in the world - the triumphal tour of the theater in America and Europe, as well as the civil war, due to which some of the directors and actors of the Art Theater left Russia. The key role in this was played by Richard Boleslavsky and Maria Ouspensky, who became the main “distributors” of the “Stanislavsky system” in America. Their student was the famous American director Lee Strasberg. Many famous Hollywood actors, including Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Robert de Niro, Marlon Brando and Mickey Rourke, passed through his Actors Studio, which worked on the basis of the “Stanislavsky system”.
According to the materials of the sites http://www.stanislavskiy.info/ and http://www.abc-people.com