Stanislavski's groundbreaking acting system, developed from his work in the Moscow Art Theater and acknowledged the world over, found its greatest success in America where its methods have been used for over fifty years by the Actor's Studio in New York.
Building a Character, the second volume in Stanislavski's acclaimed trilogy, continues the total immersion in technique and class scenarios begun in An Actor Prepares. The work unfolds in a drama school with a group of young actors: the argumentative Grisha; the pretty, vain Sonia; her admirer, the clowning Vanya; and Kostya, the diarist who records the daily lessons. The teacher and director Tortsov is modeled on Stanislavski.
The emphasis in the second book is to continue to challenge the imagination of the actors, encouraging them to act out the deepest expressions of human nature and find their highest potential. Here, a new range of physical exercises is practiced with the goals of plasticity of motion, restraint and control, and making the body expressive. Stanislavski also delves into stage charm and character-building by focusing on diction and singing, intonation and pauses, and tempo-rhythm.
Stanislavski's aim is to help actors fill out their roles to the proportion of whole human beings, "characters who will have the power to move the public to laughter, to tears, to unforgettable emotions."