Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Method vs. Biomechanics

"Technique arms the imagination" ~ Igor Ilynsky

We all know about Stanislavski and his System. But how many of us are familiar with Meyerhold and his idea of Biomechanics. He believed in highly physical acting (drawing some of his inspiration from Commedia del Arte) as a means of triggering the imagination and emotions. In training the physical and actor would gain access to everything else he or she needed to perform their roles. Some of Meyerhold's movements would include an actor being able to perform a back-flip by vaulting off of another actor's chest.

Meyerhold's believe in the avant-garde soon got him trouble with Stalin's Soviet government. Meyerhold was one of the hundreds of artists who were arrested and shipped off to Siberia and was eventually executed by firing squad. How much more brutally could a government have put down an artistic movement?

Beginning in the 1980's, there has been some new interest in Meyerhold's approach to theatre. While it may not be a practical means of theatrical storytelling, it certainly is an interesting concept of how to train an actor. There is some merit in studying it along side the Stanslavski or the Method taught by the American Group Theatre. Imagine how far this technique could have come if it wasn't shut down by the Soviet government.

Meyerhold's impact, though cut off before he reached his full potential, is undeniable. How much more could he have influcenced theatre if he had not been sentensed to death. Perhaps he could have had such far reaching influence like a Bertolt Bercht or a Samuel Beckett.

1 comment:

  1. You may be interested to know there is a film out on DVD called "Meyerhold,Theatre and the Russian Avant-garde". Using actors and archive footage it explores some of the points you touch upon about Biomechanics in your article. See for more information about this film and others in the same series