December 10th, 2018

Stanislavski on Adaptation

Every trial lawyer knows a trial takes a life of its own with unexpected twits and turns. Preparation is essential, yet to succeed the lawyer must keep readjusting so the jury accepts and feels the changing circumstances and emotions. This ability which actors and trial lawyers must have is called “Adaption.”  Constantin Stanislavski, An Actor Prepares (1936)(Routledge -Translated by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood).

In trial we must “adapt” to circumstances, to time, and to witnesses.  “Adaption” means the inner and outer ways we use to adjust to the variety of witnesses, court rulings, surprises and breakdown of plans that occur in any trial. As taught by Stanislavski the key to successful adaption is to be true to our inner feelings. We do this by trusting our inner sense of our theme.

According to Stanislavski, adaptations are made consciously and unconsciously. Conscious adaption occurs when things do not go as planned. In preparing for trial we plan on the order of witnesses and when and how documentary evidence will be introduced. With planned preparation we go forward as planned unless something happens to prevent the plan. For example when a witness is unavailable, conscious adaptation is necessary to continue the trial without a gap. A different witness is called or a DVD witness is played. When this is done it is important to “practice law like a duck.” On the surface the jury sees an unfazed, cool, calm and collected lawyer continuing the case uninterrupted. Below the surface the lawyer is furiously paddling to stay afloat.

Unconscious adaptation is what Stanislavsi concerns himself with. The highest level a trial lawyer reaches is during unconscious adaptation. Unconscious adaption is not planned. It occurs during direct and cross examination as we “are in unending contact” with the witness. To reach this level we must trust our preparation. We must be a connected and focused with the witness. We must allow our  emotions to emerge in our voice and reaction to the testimony. “The only approach is through intuition and the subconscious.” Id. Our response is then “created naturally, spontaneously, unconsciously, at the very moment when emotions are at their height.” Id. In trusting our unconscious adaptation we make “an ineradicable impression… on the memories of the [jury].” Id.

The only way we can reach this level is through an internalization of the facts before trial. An internalization so deep it is in our subconscious at an emotional level. This allows us to forget who we are, forget about the possibility of failure, live in the trial moment and project our unconscious reaction which will unprepared, natural and powerful.

    December 3rd, 2018

    The Varieties of Religious Experience- le point vierge

    Thomas Merton says he cannot define le point vierge so he describes his sudden “realization” while on the corner of 4th and Walnut in Louisville with people in a shopping area:

    Then it was as if I saw the secret beauty in their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. … Again that expression, le pointe verge, (I cannot describe it) comes in here. At the center our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God. … This little point…is the pure glory of God in us. …It is like a diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in every body.

    Merton discusses “the secret beauty” as being in the hearts of the people in the crowd. Thinking of this makes me realize:

    1. My heart and brain developed progressively as a fetus in my mother’s womb, and they are my connection with  God or “The Universal Mind.” 

    2. My heart has its own nervous system with electromagnetic energy greater than my brain, and my heart’s electromagnetic energy is a source of communication as it can be detected as an energy wave.

    3. Through my heart’s rhythm I can connect to the point in my heart of soulfulness, higher consciousness and spiritual rythmatic energy which entered my heart while I was a fetus in my mother’s womb.

    Meister Eckhart teaches- St. John says: “See how great the love the Father has shown us that we are called  the children of God.” Eckerd tells us we cannot be God’s child without having the same being as God’s child.

    My connection with God- “The Universal Mind”- is found in my heart. Through connection with my heart’s rhythm I can get to the point in my heart Merton refers to as  le point verge.

      October 21st, 2018

      Offensive Innovation

      I am practicing Offensive Innovation:

      Offensive Innovation means knowing myself and trusting my ability to know what is right. Then I act on it. I take action going with what I feel is right without defensive thinking meaning worrying about how I will be accepted. As the Nike slogan says I “just do it.”

      Several years ago I was at a lecture by the great painter, William Cumming. During the question and answer session a young man asked Mr. Cumming if an artist can learn by studying painting at an art school. William Cumming answered “the ability to create art is not taught. It comes from inside the artist.”

      In essence the artist knows inside what he wants to paint and he paints it without regard for how it will be received. The artist is painting with “offensive innovation.”

      I am doing my best to practice Offensive Innovation.

        August 5th, 2018

        Walk Toward Fear

        We all have fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of success. To have fear is to be alive. To have fear is to understand risk. To have fear is to know something is at stake.

        As a trial lawyer I have fear. Most trial lawyers have fear, especially going into trial. Accept fear as a good thing. When we lose fear we lose a valuable emotion. An emotion that makes us better. Better assuming we continue to walk into our fear.

        While at Trial Lawyers College I wrote this poem for my son:

        Walk Toward Fear

        Is not fear my friend.

        For without fear my life should end.

        All that is unknown brings fear.

        Facing fear makes the unknown clear.

        The fear of failure causes stagnation.

        But to venture forward brings origination.

        Nothing new happens without walking toward fear.

        And growth comes from moving near.

        So embrace fear as a gift.

        A gift that gives life its lift.

         

          June 22nd, 2018

          Imaging the Case

          Constantin Stanislavski taught his actors to image their part, and the circumstances of the play. In his method the actor has imaged his part  and how it will play prior to taking the stage. This imaging concept also holds true for for trials. Edited for trials Stanislavski teaches:

          First, we must have an unbroken series of supposed circumstances in which our trial will develop. Second, we must have a solid line of inner visions bound up with the supposed circumstances, so we have a picture in our mind of the trial playing out. During every moment of the development of the trial, we must be aware of either the external circumstances  which surround the trial, or of the inner chain of circumstances which we have imagined to illustrate the case.

          Through imaging we arrive at an unbroken series of pictures of the trial- our personal movie. As long as we trust ourself the trial will unfold similar to our inner vision. As the trial unfolds our  inner vision creates a corresponding mood which arouses emotion in the jury.

          Constantin Stanislavski, An Actor Prepares, (Translated by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood) (1936).

          What this means is  before the trial begins, we image every phase of the trial. This includes pre-trial motions,  jury selection, opening statement, direct and cross examination, introduction of documentary evidence and closing argument. By doing this we internalize each phase of the trial. We feel each phase  of the trial because we create the inner vision (personal movie) of  the trial.

          We know from experience the trial may take turns different from our inner vision. Stanislavski recognizes this when he teaches we must always be aware of the external circumstances of the trial. Here we must trust our case preparation, believe in ourself, accept the turns the trial takes, roll with the turns, and never quit on our inner vision.

            May 26th, 2018

            Stanislavski and Inner Forces

            To Stanislavski  the “inner forces” which we must draw upon to try a case at the highest level begins with our feelings. But our feelings must be directed and the master for proper direction of our feelings is our mind. Constantin Stanislavski, An Actor Prepares, (Translated by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood).

            According to Stanislavski there is a third force that must accompany our feelings and our mind to create our “psychic” trial life. This third force is our “will.” To try our case “freely” these three forces must cooperate harmoniously. Id. at 268.

            In acting and in trial there is a danger of falling into a pattern of reading lines. For the actor this means repeating the script. For the trial lawyer this means repeating pre-written questions. To Stanislavski this is seen all to often in theatre, and it is fatal. The lawyer must “speak in his own right as one placed in the circumstances created by [the trial].” On good days we are naturally harmonious meaning our feelings mind and will are coordinated. Id. at 269.

            At times there is a lack of feeling for the case, and/or a kind of dread. This may cause us to struggle with imaging the case, preparing with enthusiasm, and/or trying the case naturally. Stanislavski recognizes these times exist. He teaches two steps to jump start our inner forces.

            Feelings. To Stanislavski our feelings is the most important member of the triumvirate of feelings, mind and will. The first step to jump start our inner psychic is to call upon our feelings. Here we go inside ourself and remember how we felt in a similar situation as presented in our trial. When our emotions respond we feel the tempo-rhythm that underlies our emotions and gives rise to our external reaction. When this happens we are back on track.

            Mind. When we are stagnant we may be unable  to draw on feeling to jump start the triumvirate. The next step is to call on our mind. Here we use our mind to contemplate the facts and circumstances at issue in our case. In calling upon the mind we read depositions and review exhibits as we imagine the factual circumstances. Ideally this will jump starts our feelings and the emotions flow.

            Will. Stanislavski does not teach calling on the will to jump start the psychic triumvirate. This is because the actor does not create the script. The actor is at the mercy of the play writer, but we as the trial lawyer are the play writer. Our will is seen in our preparation for trial. Our will is evident in our immersion into the facts. Our will manifests in the initial plastic drafting of the lines for trial. After total immersion and completion of drafting we are able to believe in ourself and our cause. Once this is done we can trust ourself as our mind and emotions respond and we try our case freely and naturally.

              May 10th, 2018

              Wisdom of Pooh

              “What day is it,” asked Pooh.

              “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet

              “My favorite day,” said Pooh.

                April 20th, 2018

                Living the Facts Through Imagination

                IKeepSix1

                Constantin Stanislavski teaches how to live the facts which in turn teaches how to discuss the facts. In discussing facts this Rudyard Kipling poem quoted, by Paul Luvera, reminds me of factual areas to cover in a deposition and in trial examination, especially cross examination.  

                If we try our case mechanically, without recognizing who we are, where the emotional component lies, and how this effects decision making, we try the case without imagination.  This will translate to the jury as being unreal-nothing more than a wound-up machine, an automation.

                According to Stanislavsky, to appreciate the relevant what, why, when, how, where and who we must assimilate the facts so we understand what they stand for, where the emotional component lies, and how this impacts us and the decision making process. To do this we internalize the facts so they become an unbroken series of supposed circumstances which are based on our inner vision. Our inner vision is a combination of the relevant facts and our similar experiences.

                This creates a conscious reasoned approach to the facts which we have allowed our imagination to personally live so they come to life for us physically as well as mentally. This allows us to discuss the facts at a personal level that has and shows sincerity, the sincerity of who we are.

                Every moment we are in trial, every word we speak then is the result of the right life of our imagination. These inner visions create a corresponding mood that arouses our emotions and in turn the emotions of the jury.

                See Stanislavski,  An Actor Prepares -Imagination (Translated by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood)

                  March 2nd, 2018

                  The Magic of If

                  what-ifConstantin Stanislavski teaches the word if  has a unique quality that produces “an instantaneous, inner stimulus.” Stanislavski,  An Actor Prepares, (Translated by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood). From an acting standpoint Stanislavski says the imaginary use of  if allows the actor to place herself  into the emotional mindset of her character’s problem, condition or event. He teaches the actor to use if  to get to the subconscious mindset of her character. The use of if  has application beyond the theatre.

                  For example as trial lawyers we can use if  to relate to our client at our subconscious level. To do this we role reverse with our client and ask: What is it like if  I am in the situation of my client. When done as Stanislaviski teaches this results in personally placing ourself into the shoes of our client.

                  Stanislavski says this works because if  becomes what he calls a “supposition.” He explains if does not demand we believe or not believe. Rather the use of if presents a magical hypothetical that causes us to answer the hypothetical “sincerely and definitely.” When used properly if  has three consequences:

                  First, if  “does not use fear or force” or make us do anything. Rather it reassures us “through its honesty, and encourages [us] to have confidence in a supposed situation.” This allows us to image the if supposition naturally with our subconscious feelings emerging.

                  Second, if  brings to the forefront of the subconscious an “inner and real activity” –meaning to answer the if supposition we must imagine ourselves in action. This according to Stanislavski leads to mental activity that results in subconscious creativity. Subconscious creativity gets us to our highest emotional level of thought and being.

                  Third and most important  when used correctly we do not try to invoke our feelings when using the if supposition. Rather we concentrate on the given circumstance of the situation. When doing this we reach a “sincerity of emotions.” This is because our subconscious  feelings emerge. These are our true to life emotions in the given situation.

                   

                    February 14th, 2018

                    Stanislavski and The Unbroken Line

                    Applied to a trial Stanislavski teaches when the lawyer begins to learn the story of his client he sees it in bits and pieces. It is rare that the lawyer grasps the story instantly and is emotionally touched at a high level. More often he must take the time to internalize the facts and emotions to reach a deep understanding of the story so “a line gradually emerges as a continuous whole.” Stanislaviski, An Actor Prepares, Translated by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood (The Unbroken Line). Not until the line emerges as a whole is the lawyer ready to try the case.

                    A trial is like a play in that there are separate actors and interruptions in a play and separate witnesses and interruptions in a trial. To be successful the lawyer must deal with the interruptions by seeing the unbroken line of the trial so the trial “is an integrated whole made up of individual acts and feelings, thoughts and sensations.” Id.

                    To illustrate the lawyer has an idea of how the trial will progress from jury selection through closing argument. He should be able to feel how the bits and pieces of the trial will fit together to create one unbroken line that flows from jury selection, to opening though direct and cross into closing. He must see the parts of the trial as fitting together to tell a coherent story. The story of the client from the heart with natural emotion.

                    Even though the lawyer’s attention is constantly passing from witness to witness and from  document to document  he must never lose track of the emotional theme or unbroken line. Thus he flows with the pieces of the trial to make them an emotional coherent story to which the jury will relate.