Ophelia in the Style of Stanislavsky

Video from the installation “Five Truths,” opening today at Moscow’s Stanislavsky Electrotheatre.

An outstanding character actor and theater director, Konstantin Stanislavsky gained fame primarily for his system of actor training and rehearsal technique – the Stanislavsky method. He co-founded the famous Moscow Art Theatre and was an international promoter of Russian playwrights such as Anton Chekhov, Maxim Gorky and Mikhail Bulgakov.

How would Stanislavsky and four other influential European theater theorists of the 20th century have directed Shakespeare’s Ophelia?

London-based director Katie Mitchell attempts to answer that question by directing actress Michelle Terry in 10-minute renderings of Ophelia – using the methodology of Stanislavsky, Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Jerzy Grotowski, and Peter Brook.

The video installation “Five Truths,” opening this evening at Moscow’s Stanislavsky Electrotheatre, consists of ten screens of varying sizes, simultaneously playing these interpretations of Ophelia as she descends into madness in Act IV, Scene 5 of “Hamlet.”

“Five Truths,” commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum in partnership with the National Theatre, was created by a group of contemporary theater makers led by Mitchell, an associate of the Royal National Theatre. “We hope that what we have made will bring our theatrical ideas to life in a simple and direct way that speaks to theater and non-theatergoers in equal measure,” said Mitchell. 

Five Truths.” Stanislavsky Electrotheatre, Moscow. Jan. 26 to April 26.