What is Stanislavski Technique?

You might have heard of Stanislavski and his ‘technique’; his name is used a lot in acting classes; but it can be tricky to understand what Stanislavski Technique or method actually is. Here, I’m going to give you an overview of it and how it could be helpful to you on your Acting journey!

What is Stanislavski Technique? A short history.

Born in 1863, Konstantin Stanislavski was a Russian actor, director and theatre practitioner. Stanislavski Technique stems from his theatre practice and is still used by actors all around the world today.

The method is an actor training system made up of various different techniques designed to allow actors to create believable characters and help them to really put themselves in the place of a character. Much of the technique centres around Given Circumstances and the Magic If; which I’ll look at in a little bit more detail below.

what is stanislavski technique

Stanislavski and his Given Circumstances

Understanding the world of your character is absolutely vital to creating a believable performance; Stanislavski used this idea to create Given Circumstances. The first step towards doing this is going through the play and writing down all the facts about your character you can find! Example questions you might ask as you go through the script could be:

Where Am I? When is it? (The year/the day/time of day etc) Who Am I? (Name/age/your family history/what you do for work etc) What relationships do I have? What has happened before the play started?

Once you’ve found out everything you can about your Given Circumstances, you should have lots of material to help you to start understanding your character. They are just as human as you are and need to have as comprehensive a world as you do!

The Magic If

Stanislavski describes The Magic If as being able to imagine a character’s given circumstances enough to understand what that character might do in any situation that arises. So when something happens to your character in the play you can understand how they would respond because you know so much about the world that they exist in.

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Tasks and Objectives

Once you have understood the Given Circumstances and mastered the Magic If, Stanislavski encourages the actor to unearth their character’s ‘tasks’ or ‘objectives’. Characters always have a number of ‘tasks’ they wish to solve.

To find this out you ask ‘What Do I Want?’ in each scene and in the play as a whole. For example, in The Lion King, Scar wants to become King, so his task is to kill Mufasa.

Why should I study Stanislavski Technique?

But if Stanislavski was around over a hundred years ago, isn’t it a bit old fashioned? Well, no! Stanislavski’s training technique has been used for a century by actors across the world and still remains thought of as one of the best systems for learning. And it’s a really helpful tool for everyone, no matter what your level or ability.

If you want to understand the way to create a character and become a more truthful actor, studying Stanislavski is always going to help you unlock those skills and take your training to the next level!


phoebe sparrow stanislavski techniqueThis article was written by Actor and City Academy tutor Phoebe Sparrow. City Academy run a range of adult acting and screen acting classes - Click here to find out more ».