My Life in Art (Soviet Arts) – Stanislavsky

In this post, we will see the book My Life In Art by Konstantin Stanislavsky. This book is part of the series Soviet Arts.

About the book

I Wanted to Write a book about the creative work done by the Moscow Art Theatre in the 25 years of its existence and about my own work there. However, I spent the past two years abroad, touring Europe and America with the greater part of our company, and it was there that I wrote this book at the request of an American firm which published it in Boston in English under the title My Life in Art. 1 This compelled me to make considerable changes in my original plans and prevented me from saying much that I had intended to share with my reader. Unfortunately, the present state of our book market has deprived me of the possibility of substantially supplementing the book, of increasing its volume, and I therefore have had to drop much that came back to me as I looked back on my life in art. I do not speak, for instance, of many people who worked with us in the Art Theatre some of them still very successful and popular and others no longer alive. I do not speak of the hard work put in by Vladimir Ivanovich Nemirovich-Danchenko as a stage director and in his other capacities, nor of the creative endeavour of my other colleagues, the actors of the Moscow Art Theatre, who have influenced my life too. I do not mention the administrative personnel and the stage hands, with whom we have lived in concord for many years and who love the theatre and, together with us, have made many sacrifices for it. I do not even name many of the friends of our theatre-all those whose attitude to our art has facilitated our work and created, so to speak, the atmosphere necessary for our activity.

Briefly, in its present form the book is in no way a story of the Art Theatre. It speaks only of my quests in art and serves as a sort of preface for my other book in which I shall describe the results of my quests-my methods of actor’s creation and how to approach it.


April 1925

Translated from the Russian by G. Ivanov-Mumjiev and designed by Y. Krasny.

The book was translated published in  by Foreign Languages Publishing House.

You can get the book here.

Original scan by DLI.

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Preface to the First Russian Edition 9


Obstinacy 13
The Circus 20
Puppet Theatre 30
The Italian Opera 32
Pranks 36
Studies 41
The Maly Theatre 47
My Debut 53
Actors in Real Life 60
Music 65
Dramatic School 74


The Alexeyev Circle 89
Rival 100
Interregnum 103


The Society of Art and Literature 119
First Season 122
A Happy Accident 130
Restraint 135
Two Steps Backwards 139
When You Act an Evil Man, Look to See Where He Is Good 143
Characterization 146
New Perplexities 151
The Meiningen Players 156
Trade Experience 159
First Experience as a Director 162
Personal Success 165
Lev Tolstoi 168
Success 173
Passion for Production Tasks 180
Experiments with Professional Actors 185
Othello 193
A Castle in Turin 205
The Sunken Bell 209
A Memorable Meeting 216
Preparing for the New Season 222
The First Season 241
The Productions of the Moscow Art Theatre 247
The Line of the Fantastic 252
Symbolism and Impressionism 258
Intuition and Feeling 260
Chekhov’s Arrival — Unde Vanya 268
The Journey to the Crimea 273
The Three Sisters 277
The First Trip to Petersburg 283
Performing in the Provinces 288
Morozov and the New Theatre 289
The Social-Political Line 292
Maxim Gorky 297
The Lower Depths 303
The Line of Manners 309
The Costume Drama Line Instead of Intuition 311
The Cherry Orchard 316
The Studio on Povarskaya 329
The First Foreign Tour 338


The Discovery of Old Truths 345
The Drama of Life 357
Ilya Sats and Leopold Sulerzhitsky 361
Black Velvet 364
The Life of Man 370
A Visit to Maeterlinck 374
A Month in the Country 378
Duncan and Craig 385
Experimenting with My “System” 401
The Art Theatre’s First Studio 405
Cabbage Parties and “Chauve-Souris” 415
The Voice 419
Revolution 427
Catastrophe 431
Cain 434
The Opera Studio 439
Departure and Return 448
Results and the Future 458
Appendix 467
Notes 489
Name Index 500

Un grand merci à Henri Leveque pour le scan original.


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