What would be an actors approach to Anfisa from Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov?
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Ah, good question. An actor would need to approach Anfisa from several different directions. On the physical level, Anfisa is quite old. This would restrict her movements in a universal fashion, and would shape them in a culturally specific fashion. (It would be likely for her to use gestures that are out of date, just as an older gentleman might tip his hat, but a young man might be surprised by this.) On the social level, she is a servant, and so must communicate that she is of a lower rank via her body language. On the other hand, she's been with the family for more than 30 years, so she's likely to be at times like a family member and at times like a pet. As a result, her emotional position in relation to the family and any given action is likely to shift around; she's likely to be sensitive to slights, and to carry the past with her. This could be communicated by a voice that rises and falls, or by one that echoes past statements. On stage, she'd need to communicate all this as well, probably by being alternately over-attentive and distant.
The actor had to approached the character, Anfisa in different possible ways, different approaches from different directions. Firstly, the old governess is ageing very quickly after having living in the Prozorov family for thirty years, so she must have a lot of experience working under them. Her bodily movements might have been restricted as one grows old, their functions starts to degenerate so her social functions too might be different and her conventional beliefs might be still at the past. Her actions might make a cultural impact in ancient history, but now, after changing and transformation, it doesn't have a single point to it.
Next, she is also the servant of the family, so she should be a member of the lower working class in the social hierachy, clearly expressed her movements and body language. She would have be old and haggard for toiling and doing housework, and she would have wrinkles to signify her journey that she had endured.
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