Acting for drama
Future actors of dramatic theatre study in the studio system. Each studio is a prototype of a future theatre, and it’s often the case that graduating classes from RGISI start their own theatre; such was the case with the Masterskaya Theatre, Etud-Theatre, New Imperial Theatre, Social-Artistic Theatre, City Theatre and more. Among RGISI’s graduates are leading actors of Russia’s most famous theatres: the Maly Dramatic Theatre, Moscow Art Theatre, Alexandrinsky Theatre and Bolshoi Dramatic Theatre. The foundation of the actors’ training is the Stanislavsky system, although the curriculum also includes exercises developed by Meyerhold, Demidov, Vakthangov and Michael Chekhov. The program for dramatic actors contains a great number of practical disciplines that stimulate scenic expressiveness: Stage Movement (which includes fencing), Acrobatics, Stage Speech, Dance and individual and choral Singing. But the main discipline is Acting, held daily from mid-afternoon until late in the evening. In addition to professional courses, acting students receive an education in the humanities, with their program including such courses as History of World Theatre, History of Russian Theatre, Philosophy, History of Literature (Russian and International) and Art History (with lessons held in the Hermitage and Russian Museum) among many others.
Starting from their third year, students regularly act not only in productions staged on the Institute’s Small Stage but in one of the city’s most popular repertory theatres, the Student Theatre on Mokhovaya. Studio productions participate in the largest international student festivals. As a rule, each intake of acting students includes foreigners: our graduates have been successful in both theatre and film in Japan, France, Germany, Italy, China and Finland.
Studios are headed by experienced instructors as well as actors and directors working in St. Petersburg’s theatres.
V. M. Filshtinsky, Professor, Head of the Acting Department, director, studio master:
We try to teach students that authorship and co-authorship are the most important sensations an actor can have. Contemporary theatre is one in which the relationship to the play is open, and it needs actors trained to work in the etude method who are capable of creating a new artistic reality. We, the instructors of various disciplines, have one object in common: the student’s individuality. As a result, whether it be in Dance, Singing or Speech class, we watch that individuality grow and develop. In turn, the student’s task is to combine all those disciplines and make them serve a single goal: to train herself to become an actor of substance.
(Taken from his book Open Pedagogy)
Andrei Matyukov, graduate of the studio of V. M. Filshtinsky, actor at the Alexanrinsky Theatre, instructor at RGISI:
It wasn’t easy to show up for class at 9:30 in the morning and stay there until 11:30 at night, or sometimes even later. Above all, that trains you to be diligent. It’s interesting that over the course of the program, especially the first three years, talent isn’t actually that important. We were always at work, undertaking daily training to remain creatively fit: Acrobatics, Dance, Speech and many other classes. They required us to cultivate an actor’s way of thinking. The lectures were a different matter: they demanded that we pay clear attention. This was often made difficult by an acute desire to sleep, since on those occasions when we could get any sleep at all it was never more than 4-5 hours. But what could be more wonderful than those first artistic victories and character-building failures?