Anthropology of breathing: a methodology embodied


A century ago, in 1906 Konstantin Stanislavski came to Finland for a summer with his years of notes on acting and with a personal crisis questioning his abilities as an actor. While reflecting and reassessing his artistic life in the past and reorganising his rehearsal notes a system began to unfold. This investigation into the dynamic nature of the art of acting offered a set of technical means, for the creation of the creative mood in the actor. This creative mood on the stage, as Stanislavski learned through his experience as an actor, is the creative inspiration combining spiritual and physical properties of the actor. Actor’s body, emotions, memory and imagination all became central to his systematic investigation. He was inspired by Eastern mysticism, occult and Yoga and developed various concepts and techniques based on spiritual traditions of the East. He coined the word “superconscious”, displayed deep understanding of prana, the Sanskrit concept for vital energy, adapted yogic exercises to the stage and thought of actor’s non-verbal communication as transmitting and receiving of rays of energy which are similar to “psychic radio waves” (Sharon Marie Carnicke, 2000: 22), a place of non-physical communication. I think of Stanislavski today and his irresistible desire to explore the spiritual dimension underpinning the actor’s preparation and performative interaction. Coming to Finland to speak to you about restoration of breath, today, in many ways, I am extending the discussions and enhancing the practice once Stanislavski opened up and tested in relation to actor’s extra daily consciousness

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