Tortsov pointed to the inscrip tion on the placard hanging in front of us. ‘The Supertask?!’ Vanya mused with a tragic expres sion on his face. ‘I’ll explain,’ said Tortsov to help him. ‘All his life Dostoievski looked for

God and the Devil in people. That drove him to produce The Brothers Karamazov. That is why the search for God is the Supertask in this work. ‘Tolstoi strove for self-perfec tion all his life and many of his works grew

from that seed, which formed their Supertasks. ‘Chekhov fought against vulgar ity and petty-minded ness and dreamed of

a better life. This struggle, this striv ing towards it became the Supertask of many of his works. ‘Don’t you feel how readily these great, life-giving goals which men of

genius set them selves can become stim u lat ing, compel ling Tasks for an actor, and how they can pull together all the indi vidual Bits of the play and the role? ‘Everything that happens in a play, all its indi vidual Tasks, major or minor,

all the actor’s creat ive ideas and actions, which are analog ous to the role, strive to fulfil the play’s Supertask. Their common link with it, and the sway it holds over everything that happens in the play, is so great that even the most trivial detail, if it is irrel ev ant to the Supertask, becomes harmful, super flu ous, drawing one’s atten tion away from the essen tial meaning of the work. ‘This pursuit of the Supertask must be continu ous, unbroken through out

the whole play and the role. ‘Apart from its continu ity you must discern the quality and origin of that

pursuit. ‘It can be histri onic, mere form, and only provide a more or less cred ible,

overall direc tion. Efforts of that kind cannot bring the whole work alive, nor

arouse you to dynamic, genuine, product ive, purpose ful actions. The stage does not need these kinds of creat ive efforts. ‘But there is another kind, which is genuine, human, active, and which

tries to achieve the basic goal of the play. This continu ous pursuit, like a major artery, feeds the actor’s entire organ ism and the char ac ter he is playing and gives it, and the whole play, life. ‘Genuine living pursuit stirs the special quality of the Supertask itself and

its power to compel. ‘A masterly Supertask has great drawing-power, is strong, but when it is

ordin ary, its pull is weak.’ ‘And when it’s bad?’ Vanya asked. ‘When it’s bad an actor must take pains to give it strength and depth.’ ‘What are the qual it ies we need in the Supertask?’ I asked. ‘Do we need a wrong Supertask which doesn’t corres pond to the ideas

the author expresses in the play, even if it is inter est ing in itself and to the actor?’ Tortsov asked. ‘No! We can do without it! Moreover, it is danger ous. The more compel-

ling a wrong Supertask, the further it leads the actor away from the author, the play and the role,’ said Tortsov in answer to his own ques tion. ‘Do we need a cereb ral Supertask? We can do without a cold, cereb ral

Supertask too. But we do need a conscious Supertask, that comes from our intel li gence, from an inter est ing creat ive idea. ‘Do we need an emotional Supertask, that arouses our whole nature? Of

course we do, in the highest degree like air and sun. ‘Do we need a voli tional Supertask, which will draw together all our

mental and phys ical qual it ies? Yes, very much so. ‘And what are we to say about a Supertask which stim u lates our

creat ive imagin a tion, which attracts our total atten tion, satis fies our feeling of truth and stim u lates our power to believe as well as the other elements in the actor’s state of self-aware ness? We need every Supertask, which stim u lates the inner drives, the Elements, as we need bread and nourish ment. ‘So it appears that we need a Supertask which is analog ous to the writer’s

thoughts but which unfail ingly evokes a response in the actor’s person al ity. That is what can evoke not form al istic, not cereb ral but genuine, living, human, direct exper i en cing. ‘Or, in other words, you must look for the Supertask not only in the role

but also in the heart and mind of the actor.