A First-Order Theory of Stanislavskian Scene Analysis

Leora Morgenstern

At the turn of the last century, Constantin Stanislavski developed an innovative system of acting that replaced the mannered gestures and forced emotion then common in the world of theatre with a more natural style of acting. The cornerstone of Stanislavski’s system is the process of scene analysis: a process by which an actor fleshes out the circumstances of a play and hypothesizes enough facts, consistent with the play, to make it sufficiently specific to the actor. A complete scene analysis includes a backstory for a character — a description and history of the character that entail the character’s objectives — and a set of actions that is intended to further the character’s objectives. This paper explores the relationship between Stanislavski’s concept of scene analysis and formal AI theories of action and planning. The paper presents a first-order theory of Stanislavskian scene analysis, in which one can define the end product of a scene analysis and characterize the conditions under which a given scene analysis is coherent. Given a scene SC, consisting of a set of characters and a sequence of mostly locutionary actions, and a scene analysis SA, consisting of a backstory, a set of objectives, a dramatic history, and a mapping between the dramatic history and the locutionary actions of a play, this first-order theory supports inferences of the form “SA is coherent with respect to SC.”

Subjects: 11. Knowledge Representation; 5. Common Sense Reasoning

Submitted: Apr 16, 2008

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