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My Life in Art is the autobiography of the Russian director Constantin Stanislavski.

It was first commissioned while Stanislavski was in the United States on tour with the Moscow Art heatre! and was first published in "oston! Massachusetts in #nglish in $%&'. It was later revised and published in a Russian(language edition in Moscow under the title . It is divided into ' sections entitled) $(Artistic Childhood! &(Artistic *outh! +(Artistic Adolescence and '(Artistic Adulthood.
Contents
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$ Section .ne ( Artistic Childhood & Section wo ( Artistic Adolescence + Section hree ( Artistic *outh ' Section /our ( Artistic Adulthood 0 References

Section One - Artistic Childhood[edit]


his section! containing $$ chapters! begins with Stanislavski1s birth in $23+ and ends in his early twenties. 4e first describes his family life and upbringing! discussing his early trips to the circus! the Italian opera! the ballet and his introduction to the Russian theatre. 4e describes the professional 5uppet Show! which he and his siblings put on at home! as well as other events that shaped him early on as an artist. 4e describes his first e6perience acting! his e6perience as a director of the Moscow Musical Society and his brief and unsatisfying e6perience in the Maly heatre drama school! from which he dropped out within three weeks.

Section Two - Artistic Adolescence[edit]


In this very brief section! consisting of + chapters! Stanislavski describes his fleeting endeavors with an amateur theatrical group called he Alekseyev Circle 7Alekseyev was Stanislavski1s real last name8 put together by him and his siblings in the summer of $22'. heir goal was to put on operettas which were very popular at the time in Moscow. hese endeavors lead him on to the beginning of his acting career. In this section he also talks about his obsession with ballet and his ambitions to become an opera singer! which were both short(lived.

Section Three - Artistic Youth[edit]


his is the largest section of his autobiography and consists of '$ chapters. It begins with the foundation of the Moscow Society of Art and 9iterature in the winter of $222! which he founded at the age of &0 along with Russian director Ale6ander /edotov and the group of actors /edotov had put together! which included Stanislavski. /edotov had directed Stanislavski in a play by :ikolai ;ogol! called < he 5layers<. Stanislavski considered /edotov the first <truly talented director< he had ever worked with. In the first half of this section Stanislavski describes many of the plays put on by the group! beginning with their debut and ending with the events that led to the foundation of the Moscow Art heatre on .ctober $'! $2%=. 4e discusses his breakthroughs in the art of

acting that he achieved in those ten years! through his e6perience as an actor and a director. 4e also tells about his ac>uaintance and relationship with 9ev olstoy. .ne of the events that led to the founding of the Moscow Art heatre was Stanislavski1s ac>uaintance with the theatre1s co( director and co(founder ?ladimir :emirovich(@anchenko! who at the time was a well(known Russian playwright and director of the drama school of the Moscow 5hilharmonic Society. Among the schools graduates in the class of $2%2 were .lga Anipper and ?sevolod Meyerhold. At the Moscow Art heatre Stanislavski was in charge of the directing side of all productions and :emirovich(@anchenko was in charge of the literary side. At least they agreed that each of them would have the power of veto in their area of e6pertise! whenever an agreement could not be made on a particular subBect. he second half of section three describes the first nine years of the Moscow Art heatre1s e6istence up until their first international tour in $%C3! when they traveled to "erlin. Stanislavski spends most of this section describing in dramatic detail his relationship with Anton Chekhov and the productions of Chekhov1s plays! beginning with their first production of < he Seagull<! which had been originally staged in St. 5etersburg! and ending with their production of < he Cherry .rchard< in $%C' and Chekhov1s death that same year. 4e describes what it was like staging these plays with the aid of Chekhov himself! often through correspondence due to his tuberculosis which forced him to spend the winters in the Crimea. 4e discusses his breakthroughs in the art of acting that were found through working on these plays! which laid the foundations for <realism< in the theatre. Stanislavski felt that the reason why other contemporary theatre groups had no success with Chekhov1s plays is because they were trying to perform them using the old school of acting! which consisted grand gestures and loud declamations that overpowered the simplicity in Chekhov1s works. Stanislavski discovered that Chekhov1s plays were most effective when the actors utiliDed stillness and silence on stage.

Section Four - Artistic Adulthood[edit]


In this section! consisting of $2 chapters! Stanislavski describes the beginnings of his work on formulating a <system< of teaching acting! which eventually led him to write his famous books on acting! which in #nglish are called <An Actor 5repares<! <"uilding a Character< and <Creating a Role<. hese books make up volumes &! + and ' of Stanislavski1s Complete Eorks! which is an 2(volume set! published in Russia in $%0'. <My 9ife in Art< is! of course! the first volume. Stanislavski1s <system< was built on a compilation of material he had gathered over the course of two decades of work in the theatre! and was in a great effort to find the answers his many unanswered >uestions about the nature of acting as an art form. Eork on this system! according to Stanislavski! started during the $%C3FC= season of the Moscow Art heatre. 4e began by e6perimenting on himself and other actors during rehearsals for plays and ended up using the actual productions for his e6periments in using new techni>ues! such as rela6ation and concentration on stage. It was in this period that he developed his principles of the <magic if< 7when actors asks themselves the >uestion! <If I! as the character! were in a particular situation! what would I doG8 and <a sense of truth< 7a sense that actors must develop that allows them sense whether or not their words and actions are believable8. "ut Stanislavski eventually came to the conclusion that the theatre was not the place for such e6periments! as it distracted from much of the work that needed to be done. his conclusion led him to open up the first Studio of the Moscow Art heatre! which still e6ists today. he section also describes some of the Moscow Art

heatre1s productions of various plays! including Ivan urgenev1s <A Month in the Country<. 4e also talks about the Russian Revolution of $%$= and its effects on the heatre. 4e ends the book with a chapter entitled <Conclusions and the /uture<! in which he discusses several of his conclusions about the art of acting and his <system<! which as he states! consists of two parts) $( an actor1s internal and e6ternal work on himself 7<An Actor 5repares<8! &( an actor1s internal and e6ternal work on a role 7<"uilding a Character< and <Creating a Role<8. 4e ends by stating that he will divulge on this in his ne6t book! which he does in the three volumes. Interestingly! having written those three volumes! he continued to reinvent his <system< and reformulate many of his opinions on acting. It seems as though he never found the answers to all of his >uestions. "ut he certainly got closer than most people before him and after. 4e laid the foundation for many of those who came after him! namely teachers like Stella Adler! 9ee Strasberg! and Sanford Meisner! who passed on his legacy to the ne6t generation of stage and film actors.