Ahead of her Actors’ Intensive: Michael Chekhov Technique course at Filmbase, Emma Brennan answers 8 Questions about Michael Chekhov.
- That name sounds pretty familiar… Who is he?
Michael Chekhov was a Russian actor who Stanislavski referred to as his ‘most brilliant pupil.’ His father was the brother of the great playwright Anton Chekhov.
- What is this technique that I hear so much about?
The Michael Chekhov technique is a training for actors that begins with the body to explore the world through sensation and imagination. The technique is a mind/body approach that develops the sensibility and freedom of the actor’s body and imagination through the practice of movement and ‘psycho-physical” exercises.
- Sounds interesting. How did he come up with this?
Chekhov discovered that activating the imagination while practicing exercise – what he referred to as ‘psycho-physical’ exercise – had a profound effect on the psychology and could be applied to acting. His discovery opened the door for the actor to be able to access their feelings in a new way.
- How does this technique work?
Through the awakening of the body and its realm of sensations and feelings the actor can become more integrated and expressive. Chekhov created simple tools and techniques to assist the actor in awakening what he called the ‘dormant’ body to access this realm.
- Tools you say… What sort?
Among his tools were suggestions for the actor to improvise actions or ‘businesses’ that engaged the imagination. Examples: Raise your arm in confidence; Walk with defeat. His technique trains actors to sense the subtle impulses from within the body, in relation to space around them and in relation to others. Chekhov’s technique has a universal appeal because of its holistic approach to acting.
- So this is just for actors?
No, the technique is applicable across multi-platforms including music, singing, painting, writing, public speaking and holistic therapy to name but a few.
- Who uses this technique then?
He actually coached several Hollywood stars including Marilyn Monroe, Gregory Peck and Uta Hagan.
8. Any chance of a few fun facts before I go?
– He was the first actor to abandon Stanislavski’s ‘Affective Memory’.
– He began to develop an acting technique that accessed the actor’s feelings a different way – through the imagination.
– He investigated the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner and incorporated them into his technique.
– Chekhov’s first book on his technique ‘To the Actor’ was published in 1953.
– He died in Hollywood in 1955.
– 7 publications have been released on his teachings including a 5-hour Audio Master Class.
– His technique is gaining recognition throughout the world as more people discover his books and teachings on acting and directing.
Actor/Director Emma Brennan is a certified Michael Chekhov facilitator graduating from the Gaiety School of Acting and Michael Chekhov Studio Berlin in the International Michael Chekhov Advanced Training Programme and Teacher-Training Programme in 2014. She was chosen as first intern by tutor/director Joerg Andrees to intern on the programme for a further 18 months. She has taken master workshops and training with International Chekhov Tutors including Ted Pugh and Fern Sloan, New York, Sarah Kane, London, Jobst Langhans, Germany, Lenard Petit, New York, Ulrich Meyer-Horsch, Germany.
She holds a BA.(Mod) and M.Phil. from Trinity College, Dublin in Computer Science and Music and Media Technologies.
Actors’ Intensive: Michael Chekhov Technique with Emma Brennan
11th July – 1st August, 4 Tuesday Evenings
€95 members / €120 Non-Members
This four-class series is geared towards actors and directors who would like to explore tools of the Michael Chekhov Technique from preparation to performance of a piece of text.
Visit Filmbase for further information