Stanislavski and The Super-Objective

 Stanislavski’s Super-Objective applied to a personal injury trial is the Theme of the Case. In the words of the Stanislavski edited for trial lawyers we learn:

Great trial lawyers know a successful trial must have a “larger, vital purpose…the power to draw all of [the lawyer’s] creative faculties and to absorb all the details and smaller units of [the case]. … [A great theme] is human and directed towards the accomplishment of the basic purpose of the [trial]…it will be like a main artery, providing nourishment and life to both [the plaintiff and the jury].” Stanislavski, An Actor Prepares (Translated by Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood)(The Super-Objective).

To Stanislavski a great theme is beyond the individual it is “broadly human, and universal in implications.” Id.  Applied to a trial Stanislavski teaches that a lawyer may not be able to come to a conclusion about his trial theme until he conducts several focus groups.  Mock juries help put together the theme;  the lawyer is able to hear how non lawyers see the facts, and what they see as important aspects of the case. This will lead to the theme.

To Stanislavski  winning themes often involve “questions of freedom, justice, happiness, great joy, great suffering.” Id. “Above all preserve your super-objective and through line of action. Be wary of all extraneous tendencies and purposes foreign to the main theme.” Id.

Stanislavski also recognizes successful trials involve polarization. “Every action meets with a reaction which in turn intensifies the first. In every [trial], beside the main action we find its opposite counteraction. This is fortunate because the inevitable result is more action. We need that clash of purposes, and all the problems to solve that grow out of them. They cause activity which is the basis of [a great trial].” Id.

Stanislavski gives a three part formula for a great trial: 1) inner grasp (meaning the internalization of the theme of the trial); 2) the through line of action (meaning from jury selection through closing we move with and to 3) the super-objective (our theme).

    2 Responses to “Stanislavski and The Super-Objective”

    1. I’ve never thought of applying Stanislavski’s method to trial–a brilliant idea!

    2. Inga Ellens says:

      Very good tips especially to those new to blogosphere, brief and accurate information… Thanks for sharing. A must read article.

    Leave a Reply