|William Blake - "Mysterious Dream"|
Before I do, a brief background note is necessary.
When I approached Stanislavski at 18, I was alone on the task. I was taking acting classes at the time and, although the exercises we did involved some kind of a technical training, a practical insight over Stanislavski's theories was never offered, although everybody loved to mention him. So, I resolved I would do it myself.
I bought Stanislavski's three books - An Actor Prepares, Building a Character, and Creating a Role - and started studying. I tried to apply as much as I could, but my young age and inexperience brought me to misunderstand a lot of what he wrote. As a result, my acting started relying on method and outer technique, becoming totally devoid of an inner emotional pulse. My acting was external, robotic, lifeless, and this led me to be very, very frustrated.
My reaction was to put Stanislavski's books back in the shelf. I decided I would not waste more time with him. I dismissed him as the founder of an acting technique that was merely external, empty, and old-fashioned. Where was the novelty? I didn't need it. Acting has always been to me a way to express feelings that, in real life, were too difficult to express. What use could an external technique have for me? I didn't want to wear masks anymore.
Months later, I have this very short but intense dream:
An old actor is standing in front of me, and with a scolding attitude he says: "Stanislavski is pathetic!".
I can't remember who the actor was, except that he was one I strongly admired.
As soon as I woke up, I tried to interpret it.
My unconscious was giving me a message through the words and the image of an actor who was much wiser and more experienced than I was - not to mention more talented!
But why was he telling me that? Why was Stanislavski pathetic? He was empty, void, bleak, old, external, fake, but I couldn't say he was pathetic. If pathetic meant 'ridiculous' and 'inadequate', well, then I agreed. But then, why should my unconscious try to tell me something I was already aware of?
So, I focused on the word pathetic.
Pathetic stems from the Greek word "pathos", which means "sorrow", "pity" or, more in general, "feeling".
My unconscious was warning me that Stanislavski and his acting methods were not robotic, empty, and external. Stanislavski's techniques had, instead, feeling and emotion as their main core and, specifically, the recreation of the latter on stage.
My unconscious was trying to tell me that I had completely misinterpreted what Stanislavski wrote, and then blamed him for everything.
That is when I became fully aware of my stupid mistake.
I took Stanislavski's books back in my hands, looking at his picture on the front covers with the meeker attitude of the one who's re-emptying his 1/10 full glass, and got back down to studying. This time, though, I was aided by people who knew more than I did and with whom I could discuss and compare my experiences and understanding of his theories.
I'd like this post to be a small introduction to a long series of links I'll make between acting and psychology.
I believe dreams are one of the most direct messages our Self sends up to balance our attitude and correct our path.
This is not the only dream experience I had, but with regard to acting, it is definitely a very significant one.