Monday, July 18, 2016

On Stanislavski and his Disciples

Recently there have been hot discussions in the academic theatre community concerning what parts of Stanislavski’s work are the most important, what the translators missed, what Stan really meant, whether to spell his name ‘Stanislavski’ or ‘Stanislavsky’, and other issues!

I find all of this to be a never-ending rabbit hole of discussion. It is becoming far more like the disputes raging among religionists than an admittedly unfinished and practical guide to the actor’s work. Frankly, I believe that searching for what Stan meant is somewhat irrelevant owing to the enormous cultural, linguistic, and historical differences between our time and his, including but not limited to the prohibitions dictating physical interaction between people, especially men and women. 

Certainly every actor and director should have read all of Stanislavski’s writing.
They are the basis of almost all current directing and acting theory. However, the books should be viewed In the same way old cookbooks that are read by chefs who then adapt the recipes to today’s food, technology, and cultural tastes, or as the writings of Euclid are still used by mathematicians. The principles remain while the methods change.

I have made my own peace with Stan's work and I focus on (1) the given circumstances which include sense memory, imagination, and so forth, (2) the primacy of action as interaction over ingoing self involvement, (3) character emergence rather than conscious creation.  This is my choice and while there may be many roads to Mecca, this one is mine.

My training and rehearsal methods use extreme physical interaction to unearth primal needs. I suspect that if Stan could have access to people who were really free to move and explore without undue restraint, he would have gone much further with the concept of action. 

Additionally, the new and amazing neuroscientific brain research examining memory, learning, and the biology of action and emotion were not available to him at all. Why would we continue to work in a way uninformed by almost a century of investigation into what makes us human and how we function?

We can be sure that Stanislavski would be pressing his head against the laboratories and reading the Neuroscientific Journal in order to move ahead in perfecting his approach to acting and directing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Is there such a thing as a professional Wise Woman?

Recently, I have been wondering what to do in my crone years.  I mean, that is coming soon, and I want to be useful and to enjoy it.   But what to do?  I remember many years ago being taken to an older woman's house on a Sunday afternoon and paying, what $10 to sit in her living room and hear her talk and answer questions and use her age, wisdom, and insight to help the people in attendance.  I know that many of them met with her privately as well.  I don't know what she was called.  I mean Life Coach certainly doesn't fit, she wasn't a professional psychologist or a psychiatrist.  She was just a woman whose advice and ideas were valuable and inspiration, at least to me.

I suspect that in this day and age, Wise Woman, has all kinds of herbal and crystal implications, and that isn't what I mean.

I have been tossing around "Conversational Empath" or "Insightful Listener" or "Professional Conversationalist."

I have been trying to figure out how I would get clients.  Maybe as an adjunct to a really fabulous Day Spa?  A special event at a bar, give her $20 and a Scotch and she will talk to you about you for a half hour?  Or get a sign like Lucy in Charley Brown and sit at the big table at Meinl's?

I mean, I am not a psychic, nor a healer, nor a seer, I am just very good at helping people talk their way into something meaningful and then offering some ideas of direction.  So maybe, Assistant Living Director?

Any ideas, let me know.  I have been looking at the life coaching sites, but the all seem much more about being a success in the world and I just want people to find that success within themselves first.  And, lots of the Life Coaches are Christian and as you know that is not high on my agenda.

Pretty soon, I am just going to go to a bar or a coffee shop on a slow night, sweet talk the manager, sit at a table and set up a sign- "What do you need to talk about?  $20 a half hour plus drinks. "

Hey, maybe the title would be "life facilitator"? Seems awfully cold though.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

myth, Mirror Neuron and Stanislavski

As a learn by doing kinda person, I don't know how to put my article, Myth, Mirror Neurons, and Stanislavski in first position on my blog. But if you go to Nov 2009, it is there!

First Direct Evidence For Mirror Neurons Found

First Direct Evidence For Mirror Neurons Found Here is some had data which seems to prove the existence of mirror neurons. Very exciting!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, December 7, 2009

Reasons to Warm Up beyond vocal and physical conditioning

A brain mechanism for facilitation of insight by positive affect
SourceJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience archive
Volume 21 ,  Issue 3  () table of contents
Pages 415-432  
Year of Publication: 2009
MIT Press  Cambridge, MA, USA


Previous research has shown that people solve insight or creative problems better when in a positive mood (assessed or induced), although the precise mechanisms and neural substrates of this facilitation remain unclear. We assessed mood and personality variables in 79 participants before they attempted to solve problems that can be solved by either an insight or an analytic strategy. Participants higher in positive mood solved more problems, and specifically more with insight, compared with participants lower in positive mood. fMRI was performed on 27 of the participants while they solved problems. Positive mood (and to a lesser extent and in the opposite direction, anxiety) was associated with changes in brain activity during a preparatory interval preceding each solved problem; modulation of preparatory activity in several areas biased people to solve either with insight or analytically. Analyses examined whether (a) positive mood modulated activity in brain areas showing responsivity during preparation; (b) positive mood modulated activity in areas showing stronger activity for insight than noninsight trials either during preparation or solution; and (c) insight effects occurred in areas that showed mood-related effects during preparation. Across three analyses, the ACC showed sensitivity to both mood and insight, demonstrating that positive mood alters preparatory activity in ACC, biasing participants to engage in processing conducive to insight solving. This result suggests that positive mood enhances insight, at least in part, by modulating attention and cognitive control mechanisms via ACC, perhaps enhancing sensitivity to detect non-prepotent solution candidates.

Photo is Worth a Thousand Ways to Change Your Memory by David DiSalvo

This article has a lot to say to actors because it reinforces the need for images of the given circumstances.

 Photo is Worth a Thousand Ways to Change Your Memory

Most of us realize that memory is fallible. We forget things all the time–car keys, passwords, whether we turned off the oven, etc.  But how many of us would admit that our memory is susceptible to change from the outside? That’s different from simply forgetting–something everyone does on their own–because someone else changing our memory requires “getting in our heads” so to speak, right?
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I’m about to tell you that not only is it possible, it’s probable. And it doesn’t even take very much effort to accomplish–just a few images and a little time.      
A recent study in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology tested whether showing people photos of completed actions–such as a broken pencil or an opened envelope–could influence them to believe they’d done something they had not, particularly if they were shown the photos multiple times.

Participants were presented with a series of objects on a table, and for each object were asked to either perform an action or imagine performing an action (i.e. “crack the walnut”).  One week later, the same participants were brought back and randomly presented with a series of photos on a computer screen, each of a completed action (i.e. a cracked walnut), either one, two or three times. Other participants were not shown any photos.
One week later, they were brought back to complete a memory test in which they were presented with action phrases (i.e. “I cracked a walnut”) and asked to answer whether they had performed the action, imagined performing it, or neither, and rate their confidence level for each answer on a scale of one to four.
The results: the more times people were exposed to a photo of a completed action, the more often they thought they’d completed the action, even though they had really only imagined doing it.  Those shown a photo of a completed action once were twice as likely to erroneously think they’d completed the action than those not shown a photo at all.   People shown a photo three times were almost three times as likely as those not shown a photo.

Two factors in this study speak to the malleability of memory. The first is duration of time. The experiment was carried out with a week between each session, enough time for the specific objects and actions to become a little cloudy in memory, but not enough time to be forgotten.  This lines up well with real-world situations, such as someone providing eye-witness testimony, in which several days if not weeks might elapse between recollections of events.

The second factor is repeat exposure to images.  The study showed that even just one exposure to a photo of a completed action strongly influenced incorrect memory.  Multiple exposures significantly increased the errors. One real-world takeaway from this result is potentially alarming: the possibility of using images to alter someone’s memory of a face or other critical element such that his/her testimony is tainted.
A similar study discussed here tackled the same sort of memory issues with video instead of photos, and found a similar result.  Both studies point to a realization becoming clearer with time: memory is far more changeable than most of us realize.
Henkel, L. (2009). Photograph-induced memory errors: When photographs make people claim they have done things they have not Applied Cognitive Psychology DOI: 10.1002/acp.1644