“All true artists, bear within themselves a deeply rooted and often unconscious desire for transformation.” - Michael Chekhov
Chekhov developed his acting technique from his early years with Stanislavsky and his tireless search for an alternative to the over analytical approach to acting. Chekhov wanted to access the unconscious creative self through indirect non-analytical means - another words to free the creative process from the critical mind. His refusal to exploit the actor’s personal feelings in his art ultimately separated him from Stanislavsky’s teachings. He believed there should be a clear differentiation between the actor as a person and the actor as an artist. Chekhov focused his technique on the development of the imagination, individual creativity and the inner/outer (psycho-physical) connections of the actor.
“The base of any true art is our ability to live consciously or unconsciously in the world of imaginations.” Michael Chekhov, To The Actor
Chekhov noticed actors were loosing their most valuable tool - the ability to transform themselves through their imagination. He developed a series of simple and accessible exercises allowing the actor to begin this transformation. Some of the tools he embodied were; archetypes, imaginary body, centers, psychological gesture, qualities of movement, personal and general atmospheres, radiation, a feeling of ease, beauty, form and a sense of the whole.
“In our technique there are no purely physical exercises, all exercises are psycho-physical. The outer physical action awakens an inner psychological response.” Michael Chekhov
Chekhov believed that every physical action has the ability to awaken within the actor creative feelings and sensations. These then become creative tools where the actor can explore and develop a rich inner life for the character. Actors contain within themselves infinite possibilities and Chekhov’s technique encourages the actor to listen and act upon his/her own creative individuality.
“The beauty of his approach is that he offers a direct route to the actor’s creativity by the simplest means.” Simon Callow in his forward to Chekhov’s book, To The Actor.