Outside-in or inside–out? The conflicted discourse of Stanislavsky in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand: Part one
Taylor & Francis
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
This is the first of a pair of articles examining the discourse in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand regarding Stanislavsky. Moving from a brief description of my own encounter with Stanislavsky in student and fringe theatre of 1990s Melbourne, I provide a series of descriptive snapshots gathered through an informal survey of how Stanislavsky is invoked in teaching and practice in the region. I conclude that although theatre and training have evolved over the last forty years, the symbolic capital associated with Stanislavskian realism remains relatively unchanged. Ian Maxwell’s contention that Australasian practitioners are “bowerbirds” who scavenge detritus to adorn idiosyncratic theatrical assemblages holds true. One clear irony emerges, namely that although Stanislavsky considered his focus to be the practice of acting, his methods are most often taught as an aid in analysing written playscripts–perpetuating a distinction between historical “outside in” psychological approaches, versus allegedly more innovative “inside out” methods. Stanislavskian concepts are, in essence both remembered and forgotten when navigating acting in the region today. These tensions within Stanislavskian discourse complicate his reputation even as his link with realist dramaturgy ensures his relevance. The rhetorical, ideological and political implications of these associations are further developed in the second article to follow.