Scroll of Life – Lilla Megyeri
KONSTANTINE: Who Are You?
ARYAN: Hi, my name is Aryan Ghodrat and I’m 17 years old.
KONSTANTINE: No you are not, repeat.
ARYAN: Hi, my name is Aryan Ghodrat and I’m playing the role of a villain.
KONSTANTINE: No you are not, repeat.
ARYAN: I’m playing the Joker.
JOKER: Hi, I am the Joker. I am a psychopath, manipulator, and villain.
The Stanislavski Method, a brilliant process crafted by theater practitioner Konstantine Stanislavski, is the foundation for any thespian seeking mastery in the art of emotional and psychological realism. The first step in this journey of self-discovery is for the actor to ask themselves the self-defining question, “who are you?” A performer must delve deep into the character portrayed on stage and explore their characteristics, relationships, and role in the production. This preliminary step sets the stage for the actor’s concentration of mind and spirit, fully immersing themselves into the character’s world. In playing the Joker convincingly, Aryan must understand the Joker’s character before proceeding with the Stanislavski Method. This defining step may involve research and work on behalf of the actor in establishing a clear foundation for the performer’s future abilities on stage.
KONSTANTINE: Where Are You?
Step two, concentration, is arguably the most crucial aspect of the Stanislavski Method, as it creates emotional connection and authenticity between the actor and character. Without it, they will go haywire on stage, making both the audience and performer feel detached from the script. For instance, instead of fixating on the idea of an audience staring at them, the artist must focus solely on their character, transcending any fear or anxiety. This way, the actor creates a much more authentic product while also feeling confident in their own body for future steps. Once the step is complete, the entertainer can continue peeling back the layers of the character, emerging themselves into the tedious levels of the method. The whole journey of the Stanislavski Method is an odyssey toward unlocking the character’s full potential, and concentration is a necessity in completing it.
JOKER: Gotham City
KONSTANTINE: What does it feel like?
JOKER: I don’t know.
KONSTANTINE: That’s okay. Reattach to Aryan, and ask, how would he feel?
Step three of the Stanislavski method implores the actor to dive deep into their spirit and connect their personal experiences to their acting. Though it may feel contradictory to the first two steps, simply imagining oneself as the character is not enough for a profound and authentic production. Instead, the actor must incorporate their own memories and emotions into the portrayal of their character. By tapping into their past, the artist can add a sense of reality to their performance that excels past boring performers who simply just imitate. For example, by recalling a time when they felt anger, the possibility of experiencing raw emotion on stage is a whole lot greater. Maybe thinking about a time when their partner cheated on them, or the time they were pickpocketed in the streets of Paris creates that anger. With this in mind, the performance not only feels more dynamic but also helps the actor overcome any feelings of remoteness they might feel from the script. According to Stanislavski, emotions are the driving force behind human behavior and it is the thespian’s job to tap into their emotional memories, making their performance convincing.
However, sometimes our memories aren’t qualified enough, and instead, we may feel numb at the thought of them. The memory of the performer’s partner cheating on them no longer makes them feel emotion. They have restored all the things that the pickpocketer stole, and now they simply do not care. In these instances, imagination plays a crucial role in helping actors fuse with their characters. By creating vivid and sensory images, actors can evoke the emotions they need in bringing their characters to life. This may include exaggerating memories that may have not been serious or emotional at all. What if the actor thought about the time their best friend got them a gift, and then imagined them getting run over by a car at the same time. Kinda sad, right? The key when using imagination in the actor’s favor is for them to create an emotional experience that feels authentic to themselves, not the audience. At the end of the day, the people watching have no clue what the performer ponders about; they can use the darkest of their imagination, creating a wicked performance.
KONSTANTINE: What do you want?
JOKER: I want you dead.
KONSTANTINE: Why do you want it?
Step four of the Stanislavski Method mandates actors to delve into the depths of their psyche and uncover the character’s motives. The main question in this step is, “Why am I doing what I am doing?” It requires a level of soul-searching that can be both illuminating and unsettling. By uncovering the layers of your character’s motivations, you may discover that they aren’t as virtuous as they initially seemed. Perhaps jealousy, anger, or even madness drives them.
This step brings depth and nuance to the actor’s portrayal, making their character’s actions more complex and believable. People’s motives constantly change and the same applies when acting. Even though there is a script with prewritten lines, each run may evoke different emotions and create different motives for the actor in moving forward, meaning that they must remain vigilant and constantly re-evaluate their character. For example, let’s take the character of the Joker. What drives him as a criminal mastermind? Why does he want chaos in Gotham City? By examining the character’s backstory, relationships, and personality traits, we can understand the roots of his madness. Perhaps he was mistreated and neglected as an infant, making him seek revenge on society. Regardless of the specifics, the key is for the performer to understand the emotional and psychological state that drives the character’s actions.
JOKER: Ha ha ha, you’re messing with me.
KONSTANTINE: I’m not, you are. Now tell me, where is Aryan?
JOKER: I will kill you.
KONSTANTINE: How will you do that?
The fifth and final step of the Stanislavski method is an immersive descent into the abyss of a character’s motivations and desires. Actors must surrender their identity in displaying their character’s physicality. The use of facial expressions, postures, and movements must be calculated, fitting the actor’s choices from the previous steps. When their physicality matches the emotional and psychological state of the character, it transforms the performance from plain words and actions into a sinister and captivating display of human nature. In this next part of the script, the Joker will kill Stanislavski. The Joker has completely severed from Aryan and no longer feels any attachment to him. The backstory that the Joker has created for himself is enough to keep him motivated in future scenes. In just a moment, the Joker will follow through with the Stanislavski method by using physicality as he leisurely draws out his knife, revealing a wide grin on his face, and flailing his arms around to the sound of his chilling laughter.
KONSTANTINE: Aryan, put the knife down.
JOKER: Too late!
Congratulations. The thespian has now fully descended into the darkness of the Stanislavski Method, casting aside their own identity for the applause of an audience. They have meticulously built the foundation of their twisted creation, and will obsessively continue molding their character. Though Stanislavski may be dead, his revolutionary method will continue following and haunting actors forever.