Our Studio’s actor training and our theatre company’s creative process are founded in the method of Michael Chekhov.
Michael Chekhov was a theatre artist - actor and director - and a teacher who left a legacy of a profoundly far-sighted and comprehensive method of actor training. Nephew to Anton Chekhov, the celebrated playwright, Michael Chekhov’s long career took him from Russia, where he was a star actor and director of the Moscow Art Theatre, to theatre and film companies in Europe, England, and New York, and finally to Hollywood, spanning the twentieth century evolution of acting in the western world.
During this time, Chekhov developed his ideas on how to support and enable actors in their work. He created several acting schools which were practical laboratories for his concepts. Chekhov wrote one of the most articulate and practical books on acting, To the Actor, which today is still a revelation and an inspiration to actors. His accomplishments might be ranked amongst the contributions of the great thinkers of other fields, as he expanded the body of knowledge of the art of the actor.
Chekhov’s ideas made stars out of Yul Brenner, Beatrice Straight, Gary Cooper, Anthony Quinn, and many others, but because these ideas are primarily of interest to the actor exploring their inner processes, his teachings have dwelt quietly in the hearts of actors and been less well known to the public at large. His students continued to teach his ideas and method. The Michael Chekhov Association, founded by his student, Joanna Merlin, was established to teach and promote his approach. We now enjoy a global network of Chekhov practitioners teaching and bringing this approach to the art of the actor into their professional careers.
Chekhov’s technique goes straight to the essence of human experience, defining it in terms that an actor can identify, exercise, and use as creative building blocks. Embodying these essential elements, such as qualities, sensations, atmospheres, and actions, the actor becomes more aware of the natural relationship that exists between the inner and the outer, or psycho-physical, in human experience. His approach encourages the intuitive, creative, and active ability of the actor.
Chekhov witnessed actors losing their most valuable asset – their ability to transform themselves through their imaginations. He saw the imagination as a muscle that could be developed. In his technique, the actor learns to imagine the character in all the detail a novelist might see in their definition, and then incorporate those images in spontaneous play. In this way actors are always enlarging the scope of their possibilities and at the same time, expressing the full range of their own individuality. The actor is working not only with a more insightful sense of life as it is, but also with the potential of what it could be. The actor can be transformed, and thus the theatre can move forward.
"All true artists, especially the talented creators for the stage, bear within themselves a deeply rooted and often unconscious desire for transformation." - Michael Chekhov