Stanislavski’s ‘system’ has dominated actor-training in the West since his writings were first translated into English in the 1920s and 30s. His systematic attempt to outline a psycho-physical technique for acting single-handedly revolutionized standards of acting in the theatre.

Until now, readers and students have had to contend with inaccurate, misleading and difficult-to-read English-language versions. Some of the mistranslations have resulted in profound distortions in the way his system has been interpreted and taught. At last, Jean Benedetti has succeeded in translating Stanislavski’s huge manual into a lively, fascinating and accurate text in English. He has remained faithful to the author's original intentions, putting the two books previously known as An Actor Prepares and Building A Character back together into one volume, and in a colloquial and readable style for today's actors.

The result is a major contribution to the theatre, and a service to one of the great innovators of the twentieth century.

This Routledge Classics edition includes a new Foreword by the director Richard Eyre.

part |2 pages

Year One: Experiencing

chapter |2 pages

An Actor’s Work, Introduction

chapter 1|12 pages


chapter 2|22 pages

The Stage as Art and Stock- in-Trade

chapter 4|27 pages


chapter 5|35 pages

Concentration and Attention

chapter 6|16 pages

Muscular Release

chapter 7|18 pages

Bits and Tasks

chapter 8|45 pages

Belief and the Sense of Truth

chapter 9|36 pages

Emotion Memory

chapter 10|30 pages


chapter 12|10 pages

Inner Psychological Drives

chapter 13|10 pages

Inner Psychological Drives in Action

chapter 14|14 pages

The Actor’s Inner Creative State

chapter 15|16 pages

The Supertask, Throughaction

part |2 pages

Year Two: Embodiment

chapter 17|4 pages

Transition to Physical Embodiment

chapter 18|28 pages

Physical Education

chapter 19|79 pages

Voice and Speech

chapter 20|7 pages

Perspective of the Actor and the Role

chapter 21|46 pages

Tempo- Rhythm

chapter 22|10 pages

Logic and Sequence

chapter 23|22 pages

Physical Characteristics

chapter 24|14 pages

The Finishing Touches

chapter 25|3 pages


chapter 26|28 pages

Ethics and Discipline

chapter 27|2 pages

The External Creative State in Performance

chapter 28|31 pages

General Creative State in Performance

chapter 29|2 pages

The ‘System’