On Playing Different Roles

“Remember: there are no small parts, only small actors.”
~ Konstantin Stanislavsky (1863 – 1938)

I wasn’t familiar with Stanislavsky before, but this quote of his really resonated with me. Looking him up, I discovered just how influential he was in shaping the acting techniques actors use up to this day. While I’ve left behind my own vague notions of becoming an actress someday, I have been thinking quite a lot about my role in life; those roles that are within my range, those that are more of a stretch, those I’ve turned down, those I just don’t have the right attributes for, those that might be a good fit and those I’ve never considered before. In terms of work, I’ve always positioned myself to play one of the lead roles, but have been wondering ever since I’ve been on sick leave if perhaps my ambitions made me push myself too hard? I ask myself, “maybe it would be okay to play smaller part?” But I find it hard to conceive that I’d be able to tolerate that for too long. I’m still in no position to re-evaluate and look at all that too closely. Just dwelling on the topic, as I am now, makes me feel nauseous and dizzy. It’s amazing really, how loaded such a seemingly simple quote can be. I don’t know what kind of actor or director Stanislavsky was, but I’m not surprised he’s managed to leave behind such a strong legacy.

Stanislavsky was a Russian actor, theater director, and creator of the Stanislavsky acting ‘System’ which was later adopted by many of Hollywood’s greats, such as Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, James Dean, Benicio Del Toro, Elizabeth Taylor and Hilary Swank to mention just a few.


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