Publication 7371

Scholte T. (2015) Proto-cybernetics in the Stanislavski System of acting: Past foundations, present analyses and future prospects. Kybernetes 44(8/9): 1371–1379. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/7371
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to introduce the cybernetics community at large to the remarkably prescient work of nineteenth century theatrical pioneer Konstantin Stanislavski whose revolutionary System of Acting has, thus far, been largely overlooked in cybernetic literature and to suggest potential paths of future research in this vein. Design/methodology/approach – Close reading, analysis, and comparison of key excerpts from Stanislavski’s corpus, the writings of later proponents of his System, the literature of early cybernetics, and contemporary scholarship in cognitive science. Also, description of current and potential future applications of the theories presented. Findings: Stanislavski’s success in formulating an approach to acting capable of generating performances of previously unrealized naturalness and believability lay in his utilization of heuristics later to be taken up, under different nomenclature, by the field of cybernetics and substantiated by contemporary cognitive science. A conscious interdisciplinary research effort to explore these linkages promises benefits for both fields. Practical implications: Cyberneticians in various sub-disciplines may be inspired to view the theatre rehearsal hall as a potential site of interdisciplinary research projects; particularly in the fields of the behavioral and social sciences. Originality/value – This paper is the first to synthesize existing and original cybernetic analyses of the Stanislavski System with contemporary developments in cognitive science in a manner specifically geared toward the cybernetic community. The current and potential future research projects described are unique.

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