This book traces the parallel careers of the two greatest twentieth-century theatre practitioners, the Russian masters Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vsevolod Meyerhold. It is particularly concerned with the simultaneous development of their two contradictory – but perhaps also complementary – acting methods, methods which dominate the best acting practice today. From the same starting point at the Moscow Art Theatre in 1898, Stanislavsky and Meyerhold pursued very different artistic paths through the turbulent last years of tsarism, and the increasingly tormented first decades of communism. Yet by the late 1930s, almost unnoticed, they had begun to work together again. However, their fates under Stalin’s tyranny were diametrically opposite: while Stanislavsky was virtually deified by the state, Meyerhold was vilified, tortured and executed. This is a unique story of artistic struggle, as well as of personal jealousy and affection, and it illuminates the methods and potential of contemporary acting practice.