Stanislavski and Becoming the Case

Applied to trial practice, Stanislavski teaches we cannot try a case with natural emotion unless we believe in our client’s story.  Stanislavski says we fall into habits of artificiality when we stay on a surface level with our client. This problem is magnified if we also fail our inner preparation.

“Unfortunately, a natural creative mood is seldom spontaneous.” Stanislavski, An Actor Prepares (Translated by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood)(The Inner Creative State). This means on rare occasion we get into a natural creative mood and relate with the jury. More often when this does not occur we resort to mechanical habits.  We introduce false notes. The truth then becomes a trial lawyer convention which the jury sees as artificial as imagination evaporates. See id.

According to Stanislavski: “To grasp the spiritual  nature of  [the trial] it is not enough to use one’s mind or any one ‘element’ by itself. It requires a [lawyer’s] whole power and talent, as well as the harmonious cooperation of his inner forces, with those of the [client].” Id.

Inner preparation requires two things. First we must learn our client’s story. This requires our client reliving the emotions of the initial trauma, the recovery, and post injury ability. Then we must put ourself into the emotional mindset of our client. We internalize as closely as possible the same emotions our client  experienced and is experiencing. We do this by remembering in detail a past experience which caused an emotional reaction similar to our client.

When this “inner preparation” is complete, and the client and the lawyer are on the same emotional wave length, the case is ready for the jury. Once the trial begins all that is needed is the “the stimulus of the simplest sort of suggestion and… the whole harmonious process of establishing…[the] inner creative [emotional] state [is released in trial].” Id. By this Stanislavski means though an internalization of the emotions of our client’s story we are able to trigger those emotions at trial, as our similar emotions are also released.

The result is raw emotional honesty. The jury feels this emotion at its subconscious level. The jury will favorably respond. This is because the jury sees “a clear-cut definite objective…[with] a solid and correct inner state.” Id.

    5 Responses to “Stanislavski and Becoming the Case”

    1. Stanislavski applied to trials is really a cool and helpful way to better try a case. Thank you for sharing.

    2. Sal Licitor says:

      Maintain operating, great job!

    3. Ben Bozell says:

      Thanks for sharing Stanislavski and Becoming the Case | Zen Lawyer Seattle.

    4. […] impacted by her injuries, the mechanism of injury, her treatment and our client today. Once we have internalized our client’s story and can discuss it from the heart we are prepared for our […]

    Leave a Reply