Stanislavski and Communication at Trial

StanislavskiConstantin Stanislavski in the first of his acting trilogy An Actor Prepares (Routledge, translated by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood) calls it “Communion.” To Stanislavski “it is possible to look at and to see or to look at and not to see.” Id. at 212. On stage the actor can see and feel everything that is going on, or the actor can be some place beyond the auditorium. The same holds true for a trial lawyer. 

The Eye is the Mirror of the Soul. Stanislavski teaches for sincerity the eyes must look and reflect “the deep inner content of the soul.” Id. This means to effectively communicate at trial we must internalize and become identified with our cause before we enter the courtroom. We cannot give ourself wholly to our cause until we become identified with it and are transformed. This allows us to become one with the jury and our witnesses. To fail to internalize our cause will lead to a mechanical presentation that lacks sincerity with a resulting failure to communicate with witnesses and the jury.

Lawyer and Witness. Stanislavski says a quality playwright presents actors who convey an “inner-communication.” We must do the same with our witnesses. Stanislavski would have the witness take the stand to share her feelings and what she believes with the jury while the lawyer takes in those feeling and thoughts. “When [the jury] is present during such an emotional and intellectual change, [they are] like a witness to a conversation. [The jury] has a silent part in the exchange of feelings, and is excited by their experience.” Id. at 213-14. This only occurs when witness and lawyer “make every effort to maintain an uninterrupted exchange of feelings, thoughts and actions among themselves.” Id. at 214.

Self-Communion. Before we can communicate at an emotional and intellectual  level we must first engage in self-communion. Self-communion occurs when we get in touch with our inner life energy. The Hindus call this our Prana. The Chinese call this our Chi. According to Stanislavski “in addition to our brain … the nerve and psychic center of our being, we have a similar source near the heart, in the solar plexus.” Id. at 215.  We must establish a connection between these two energy centers. The cerebral center is the seat of our conscious (rational) mind and the solar plexus is the seat of our subconscious (emotions). When we make the connection our brain “holds intercourse” with our feelings. When we are at this level in trial we are able to commune with our self “audibly or in silence…with perfect self -possession.” Id. at 217.

Communion with Witness. Stanislavski explains actors have lines. A mechanical actor memorizes her  lines, waits until the other actor finishes and then says her next line. We can easily slip into this habit concentrating only on the plastic prepared questions that automatically follow after the witness answers. To be in communion with the witness we must engage in an “unbroken flow” with the witness. After asking the question follow the answer so your thoughts penetrate the  consciousness of the witness. Here we need to listen, internalize, and add with our eyes what can not be put into words, but shows in our soul there is communion. Then we ask our next question. This connection which requires “concentrated attention, technique, and artistic discipline,” continues through the examination.

    5 Responses to “Stanislavski and Communication at Trial”

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