An Actor's Work: A Student's Diary, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

An Actor's Work

A Student's Diary, 1st Edition

By Konstantin Stanislavski


700 pages

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Hardback: 9780415422239
pub: 2008-02-07
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Stanislavski’s ‘system’ has dominated actor-training in the West since his writings were first translated into English in the 1920s and 30s. His systematic attempt to outline a psycho-physical technique for acting single-handedly revolutionized standards of acting in the theatre.

Until now, readers and students have had to contend with inaccurate, misleading and difficult-to-read English-language versions. Some of the mistranslations have resulted in profound distortions in the way his system has been interpreted and taught. At last, Jean Benedetti has succeeded in translating Stanislavski’s huge manual into a lively, fascinating and accurate text in English. He has remained faithful to the author's original intentions, putting the two books previously known as An Actor Prepares and Building A Character back together into one volume, and in a colloquial and readable style for today's actors.

The result is a major contribution to the theatre, and a service to one of the great innovators of the twentieth century.


'A lively new translation by Jean Benedetti … Stanislavski was provocative, controversial – and, as An Actor's Work confirms, a genius.' – The Times of London

'A volume that clearly communicates the entire system … it should be made required reading. - The Guardian

'Benedetti has done an excellent job… an elegantly presented and valuable volume… This volume is essential reading for anyone interested in acting, practically or academically, at all levels from schools to the industry.' - Times Higher Education

'A landmark achievement in Stanislavski studies … essential reading for anyone interested in acting, practically or academically, at all levels from schools to the industry.' - Times Higher Educational Supplement

'Scrupulously precise.' Marie-Christine Autant-Mathieu, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris

'A far more authentic Stanislavsky … A valuable new translation, which is fuller and more readable than anything else previously attempted.' Laurence Senelick, Tufts University, Boston, USA

'Very readable … A vast improvement.' Bella Merlin, University of Exeter, UK

'Jean Benedetti has brought his usual extensive scholarship and thorough knowledge of Russian to provide a version that is more complete, much more accurate, and more readable [than the previous translation].’ Richard Hornby, University of California, Riverside, USA

'Benedetti, the author of several previous books on Stanislavski, has both improved and expanded upon the Hapgood editions, and the result is a longer yet much more readable text. ' Libray Journal

'The twin bibles of acting books, Stanislavsky's An Actor Prepares and Building a Character, which have been recently re-translated into a single tome.' – American Theatre

'This volume is a must for theater collections… Essential. All readers, all levels.' - CHOICE

Table of Contents

Introduction Declan Donnelan Translator's Foreword Jean Benedetti Preface Konstantin Stanislavski Year One 1. Amateurism 2. The stage as art and stock-in-trade 3. Action 4. Imagination 5. Concentration 6. Muscular release 7. Bits and tasks 8. Belief and the sense of truth 9. Emotion memory 10. Contact and communication 11. Adaptation 12. Psychological drives 13. Psychological drives in action 14. The Actor's creative state 15. The Supertask, through-action 16. The subconscious and the Actor Year Two 17. Transition to physical embodiment 18. Physical education 19. Voice and speech 20. Perspective 21. Tempo-rhyth 22. Logic 23. Physical characteristics 24. Finishing touches 25. Charisma 26. Ethics and discipline 27. External creative state 28. General creative state 29. The system Appendices Glossary of Key Terms Afterword Anatolij Smelianski

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism