Nikolai Demidov : Becoming an Actor-Creator book cover
1st Edition

Nikolai Demidov
Becoming an Actor-Creator

ISBN 9781138776494
Published July 7, 2016 by Routledge
814 Pages

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Book Description

At the time of his death, Stanislavsky considered Nikolai Demidov to be ‘his only student, who understands the System’. Demidov’s incredibly forward-thinking processes not only continued his teacher’s pioneering work, but also solved the problems of an actor’s creativity that Stanislavsky never conquered.

Despite being one of the original teachers of the Stanislavski system, Demidov’s name was little known either in his native Russia or the wider world until the turn of the 21st Century. Since then, his extensive works have been published in Russian but are yet to find their way to the English-speaking world. His sophisticated psychological techniques, stimulation of creativity, and methods of developing the actors themselves are now gaining increasing recognition.This book brings together Demidov’s five volumes on actor training. Supplementary materials, including transcriptions of Demidov’s classes, and notes and correspondence from the author make this the definitive collection on one of Russian theatre’s most important figures.

Table of Contents




1. Reasons For The Fall Of The Art Of The Actor

2. Truth

3. Truth, As It Is Normally Understood (Pseudoexperiencing)

4. The Intangibility Of Truth

5. On Artistry And The Artist

6. The Artist - His Chief Qualities

7. The Path Of The Artist

8. The Path To Becoming An Artist



Actor Types

The Imitator

The Emotional Actor

The Affective Actor

Rationality And The Stage

Emotional Attributes: Their "Structure" And Development. Perception and Reaction.

Emotionality And Its Various Forms

Rationality (Reasoning) - A Lack Of Emotional Development

Process And Result

How Depictors Are Made (A Necessary Elaboration)

Those Who Depict And Those Who Live

Distinct Qualities Of The Four Actor Types

The Imitator

The Emotional Actor

The Affective Actor

The Rationalist

"Ailments" And Weaknesses (Shortcomings) Of The Four Actor Types

The Imitator

The Emotional Actor

The Affective Actor

The Rationalist

Complex Types

The "Types" In Directing

"Types" Of Theatres

Rationality And Imperativity In The Actor’s Technique

Will And Imperativity



Preliminary Notes (From The Author)

Part One: The Significance Of The Actor’s Creative Experiencing.

Paths Leading Toward It

1. Initial Steps Toward Mastering The Art Of The Actor’s Experiencing

2. New Paths

3. On Freedom And Involuntariness In The Process Of Creative Experiencing

Part Two: The Path Of Spontaneous Reaction

1. Mistakes Of The Past And Glimpses Of The New

2. Freedom And Involuntariness

3. Actor’s Fantasy

4. Student’s First Steps "Onstage"

5. Some Thoughts On The Pedagogy

6. Weakness Of The Actors’ Creative Ties

7. On The Beginning

8. On The Theatrical And Non-Theatrical

9. On The Text

10. Incoherence

11. What Do We Gain From These Etudes?

Part Three: Some Basic Principles And Techniques

1. The Threshold Of Creative Experiencing

2. Solidifying An Actor In The Creative State ("Support")

3. The Role Of Automatic Movements In The Cultivating Freedom And Spontaneity

4. Don’t Interfere With Living

5. Carelessness

6. Take Your Time!

7. Play-Acting

8. Perception

9. Free Reaction ("Green-Lighting")

10. Braking

11. Stepping On It

12. Physiology

13. Assignment

Part Four: Guiding Freedom And Involuntariness

1. Circumstances

2. Forgetting

3. Concreteness As A Path To Authentic Perception

4. The Ambiguities Of The Given Circumstances As A Motivating, Driving Force In The Actor’s Art

5. The Character

6. Types Of Characters

7. The Appearance, Strengthening And Development Of A Character

Part Five: Conclusion

1. Practical Advice For Teachers

2. On The Way Forward

Additional Materials

Various Notes

Fantasy And Imagination

Additions To The Chapter On Circumstances

Crude Reactions

On Work At Home

On Evaluated Showings and Other Topics

The Necessity Of An "Etude Technique" For The Actor’s Stage Work

Can You And Should You Combine The "Stanislavsky System" With My Principles And Methods?

The Ideal



1. On The Difference Of Acting Techniques

2. Calling And Abilities

3. The Actor And Life

4. The Actor And The Author

5. The Actor And The Director

6. The Actor And Form

7. A Few Critical Thoughts On Some Methods And Terms Of Ruling Theatre Schools

8. The Embryo

9. Synthesis And Grasp


10. Character. Transformation

11. Transformation

12. On Several Principles Of The Psycho-Technique

13. On The Few Principles Of Theatre Pedagogy

14. On Preparing Yourself For Rehearsals And Performance

15. Repetition



The Future Book On The Actor’s "Ailments" And Errors – Those Provoked By The Audience, Bad Schooling, Or Poor Examples (Outline)


1. Creativity

2. Emotionally-Synthesizing Thinking

3. Primitive Sensations And Biologism

4. Doubled Consciousness

5. Unity

6. The Subconscious Nature Of Creativity

7. Automatisms

8. Will

9. "Activity" Or "Passivity"?

10. Culture Of "Calm"

11. The Threshold And After-The-Threshold

12. On Breathing

13. The Actor And The Audience

14. Advice For Future Researchers Of The Actor’s Creative Technique


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"Deserves to become the backbone of every actor’s library."

- Stanislavsky Studies

"Andrei Malaev-Babel and Margarita Laskina have taken on the formidable but necessary task of introducing Nikolai Demidov to the English-speaking world; and it is a major achievement. These pages are fresh, conversational, and, at times, provocatively categorical. Stimulating reading, they are illuminated by Malaev-Babel’s impeccable research."

- Professor Maria Shevtsova, Goldsmith, University of London

"Long repressed, Demidov’s radical ideas about acting are now being re-discovered and implemented in Russia. Now, through this extraordinary volume, we who read English over Russian can begin the exploration of these critical insights and lessons, and add a new name to the roster of Stanislavsky’s rebellious sons: Nikolai Demidov. I believe this book may ultimately alter the course of actor training in the west."

- Professor David Chambers, Harvard University and Yale School of Drama

"Demidov, and in turn Malaev-Babel, invite us to enter into a larger system, one that purports to articulate a pathway to creative psychology that complements and enlarges Stanislavski’s System. Given the years Demidov spent challenging and expanding Stanislavski’s System, the subsequent decades of suppression by the Soviet regime, and the increasing globalization of Stanislavski as the actor’s foundation, such an invitation is more than welcome."

- Dr. Bryan Brown, University of Exeter