Actor, director and producer founder of the Moscow Art Theatre (opened 1898) is best known for generating the system or theory of acting called the method.
An amateur actor form the age of 14 Stanislavsky (who adopted that name in 1885) gradually developed into an outstanding performer on the Russian stage.
In 1888 he helped to establish a permanent company of amateur actors and in 1897 he and the writer-producer Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko began to organize the Moscow Art Theatre.
Their production and direction of Anton Chekhov´s play The Seagull in 1898 made their theatre a leader in world drama.
In addition to serving as manager, director and (until 1928) leading actor of this theatre he headed the Bolshoi Opera Studio (later named for him) and other dramatic and operatic schools.
From 1898 Stanislavsky whor for years had insisted on the social significance of the drama (the Moscow Art Theatre was intended as a people´s theatre) emphasized in addition its psychological significance.
Typical of his modified viewpoint was the Moscow Art Theatre´s 1902 production of The Lower Depths by Gorky.
He co-directed it with Nemirovich-Danchenko and acted in it.
His method involved ensemble playing, the subordination of actors´ styles to the playwright´s purpose and each actor´s conscious emotional experience of his part. Later he revised his system to combine profundity of content with the shock value of striking theatrical form.
He began with attempts to find a style of acting more appropriate to the greater realism of 20th-century drama than the histrionic acting styles of the 19th century.
He never intended to develop a new style of acting but rather to codify in teaching and performing regimens the ways in which great actors always have achieved success in their work regardless of prevailing acting styles.
The method requires that an actor utilize among other things his emotional memory.
His recall of past experiences and emotions.
The actor´s entrance onto the stage is not considered to be a beginning of the action or of his life as the character but a continuation of the set of preceding circumstances.
A method actor has trained his concentration and his senses so that he may respond freely to the total stage environment.
Through empathic observation of people in many different situations he attempts to develop a wide emotional range so that his onstage actions and reactions appear as if they were part of the real world rather than a make-believe one.
Despite emphasis on realism proponents of the method maintain that its disciplines are appropriate to the broader larger-than-life performance required in classical drama.