Stanislavsky and Chekhov. Firebird pp. 401-405

  1. What is Stanislavsky's major contribution in the theater: a. in acting; b. in stage design
  2. Who is Vladimirovich-Danchenko?
  3. What is the Society of Art and Literature?
  4. Moscow Art Theater
  5. Morozov
  6. What bird is painted on the curtain of the MAT and why?
  7. How was Chekhov associated with MAT?

Additional information


  1. "We rebelled against the old way of acting, against affectation, and the false pathos, against declamation and bohemian exaggeration, against bad conventionality of production and sets, against the star system which ruined the ensemble, and against the whole spirit of performance and insignificance of repertory."
  2. "One must love art, and not oneself in art"
  3. "There are no small parts, there are only small actors"
  4. Previously, actors could not turn back to audience; when talking to each other, they could not face each other, must talk to audience.
  5. All historical plays researched for authenticity. Went to Rome when working on Julius Caesar, to Cyprus for Othello; brought furniture from Norway for Ibsen's plays.
  6. Naturalistic faithfulness to life; actors had to wear costumes for days.
  7. Actor had to feel and understand the character he was supposed to impersonate.
  8. Greatest importance attached to the actor's imagination.
  9. There is an unbreakable tie between the psychological and the physical in a human being. In every physical action there is always something psychological, and in a psychological action there is always something physical.
  10. There is no inner experience without external physical expression; it is with our bodies that we transmit to others our inner experiences. The complex of a human's psychological life -moods, desires, feelings, intentions, ambitions, for example -is expressed through simple physical action.
  11. In the sphere of physical actions everything is accessible to our control; any of these actions can be executed and repeated many times, independently of an actor's mood.
  12. Human action, or behavior, which is a psychophysical process, is conditioned by environment. The circumstances created by the playwright add nuance and color to the scenic action. For instance, the action of opening the door to steal from a room will be different from opening it for the purpose of overhearing what is said in the other room. A True psychophysical action cannot be a cliche. Cliches result from physical movements used without inner justification, without the knowledge of what has prompted them.


  1. 1860 Born in Taganrog on the Azov Sea. Father merchant, lost business and moved to Moscow.
  2. 1879 Enters the School of Medicine of the University of Moscow. Wrote stories under the pen name Antosha Chekhonte, to support himself through school.
  3. 1884 Graduates from University. Begins medical practice. Never became physician. 1888 Travels in the Caucasus
  4. 1890 Leaves Moscow for Sakhalin Island, prison colony, where he spends 3 months, studying the life of the convicts and exiles. Returns to Russia through the East, Japan, India, Persia
  5. 1891 Travels in Western Europe, visiting Vienna, Venice, Florence, Rome, Paris
  6. 1892 Helps in campaign against cholera epidemic
  7. 1894 In poor health. Travels in the Crimea and Southern Europe
  8. 1895 Visits Tolstoy at Yasnaya Polyana.
  9. 1897 Has a severe lung hemorrhage
  10. 1898 On his doctor's advice gives up medical practice, moves to Yalta. Starts to correspond with Tolstoy. At first very impressed by Tolstoy and his "nonresistance to evil" and his religion. Later found both Tolstoy and Dostoevsky to be too involved with abstractions.
  11. 1901 Marries the actress Olga Knipper
  12. 1904 Goes to Badenweiler, Germany, where he dies July 2


  1. Collection of short stories and novels.
  2. ;
  3. Plays: Ivanov 1887; The Seagull 1896; Uncle Vanya 1899; The Three Sisters 1901; Cherry Orchard 1904
  4. STYLE: Sharp character sketches. Stories are masterpieces of pathos. Plays: decline of the gentry class. Many labeled his works 'a mirror of Russian life toward the end of the nineteenth century.
  5. Characters: unhappy, defeated, futile; caught in situations that are pathetic; they dream of the glorious future; helpless. Historically realistic depiction of the clergy, of the middle class, the peasantry and the intelligentsia.
  6. Stories: close to 800 of them; ordinary characters - peasants, priests, landowners, merchants, etc.; "slice of life"; no action, suspense, plot; no narrative interest; nothing thrilling happens in them; no beginning or end; static; they do not satisfy our desire for happy ending.
  7. In search of material frequented courtrooms, markets, race tracks, barrooms; where he acquired firsthand knowledge of clerks, minor officials, priests, peasants, and workers.
  8. Traveled constantly, adding knowledge about Russia.
  9. Chekhov shows ordinary people doing ordinary things.
  10. Probed the dullness of middle-class life.
  11. Boredom - most prevalent disease of modern times; habit transforms life into a series of conditioned reflexes.
  12. Characters - isolated, unaware of their pettiness and insignificance. Even their cruelty and vices stem from their boredom, most of the main characters, particularly in the plays, are really reciting monologues, since nobody listens to anybody.
  13. Mood of despair; pity blended with humor
  14. Early stories are sketches - 3-4 pages, dealing with people from every walk of life, but mostly from provincial towns. Some sketches lean toward the grotesque. ("Death of a Government Clerk").
  15. After 1886 - characters are melancholy, pathetic; themes of futility and of the gloominess of life come to the foreground.
  16. Style: understatement Chekhov's favorite device: tells only a few things, gives fragments of conversation about some trivial thing, and all the rest is left to the reader's imagination.
  17. Plays: built on relationships between characters, which are revealed from very beginning. All dramatic suspense and element of surprise is excluded. Very little happens in them. Scarcely any plot in them.