#prisoner106: The Stanislavsky Hangover

The Russian actor and director Constantin Stan...

The Russian actor and director Constantin Stanislavski in a production of Goldoni’s Locandiera in 1898 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am still working on the opening scene that occurs at the beginning of each episode. Again, I like that The Prisoner begins with some basic questions that we should all be asking ourselves, much like Stanislavskyi’s questions for the actor. Stanislavskyi says that there are seven questions any actor should ask when approaching a new part. These are useful for readers as well as writers: and I sometimes think that they are just good life questions. These are good questions to ask on your birthday or if you are ever gassed and wake up in a strange Village. Each character has different answers to the questions and drama begins when those answers are at odds with one another. Here are the questions:

1. Who am I?
No. 6 in this scene looks like he is recovering from an epic hangover, but the scene covers Stanislavsky’s three aspects of character: physical, psychology, and sociological. We get a sense of his physicality (what an odd scholars hunch No. 2 seems to have), his willfulness in resigning, and how he positions himself in the world (car choice, driving habits, fist banging, etc.).

2. Where am I?
There is the jarring shock in this scene when he expects to see his London neighborhood and he is in a holiday resort instead.

3. When?
The Village has elements that are a hundred years in the past and a hundred years in the future (Rover and universal health care). The behavior of his fellow prisoners and the society that they are building create a sense of disassociation with time. And there are some episodes where time is everything (e.g. Chimes of Big Ben)

4. What do I want?
No. 6 is always making No. 2 aware of exactly what he wants and vice-versa: escape and information.

5. Why do I want this?
“I am not a number, I am a free man!”

6. How will I achieve my goal?
These are the basic actions of the play – the stage blocking and what the actor is doing. No. 6 is in the position of plotting escape 24/7. No. 2 is stuck administering The Village and monitoring on top of that – this is a high-turnover job!

7. What must I overcome?
This is a complicated question for No. 6 because he has issues with himself, authority, and his society. The various No.s 2 seem to be struggling with limitations of their “science” – human behavior (and will) is not so easily measured and computed.

Finally, I have made a brief film that hints of where I think I would like to go in further examining The Village:

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