Michael Chekhov Essay

1267 Words6 Pages
Mikhail “Michael” Aleksandrovich Chekhov was born on August 29th, 1891 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and he died at age sixty-four on September 30th, 1955 in Beverly Hills, California. He was known for his numerous talents, which included acting, directing, writing and for being a theatre practitioner. Chekhov cultivated a technique of acting that was, and still is, used by admired, award-winning actors and actresses. Some of his most well-known protégés include Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe, Gregory Peck, and Yul Brynner. According to Powers’ Michael Chekhov on Theatre, theatre authority Konstantin Stanislavski once referred to Chekhov as his “most brilliant student.” It was not surprising that Michael Chekhov grew attached to the art of theatre and writing, as his uncle, Anton Chekhov, was a notable playwright. This likely served as a gateway into theatrical arts for young Michael, and he quickly made a name for himself in the theatre world, and especially so in his homeland of Russia. Theorists all seem to agree that Chekhov was a brilliant actor and he always seemed to amaze audiences with his unique and imaginative depictions for his characters. Supposedly, the great theatre master Stanislavski favored Chekhov so much that he often offered his talented student extra private lessons. Chekhov was hailed as a master of his teacher’s system, and it was thought that he would one day become Stanislavski’s successor. However, things were not always so simple, and Chekhov soon started to dispute some of his teacher’s ideals and theories. According to Stanislavski’s theories on acting, “truth” depended on human behavior and was based on an individual actor’s memory, but Chekhov thought that fully incorporating affective memo... ... middle of paper ... ...without being too open-ended or, as Stanislavski’s Method Acting turned out to be, dangerous. Chekhov’s theories have been integrated into the acting styles of so many distinguished, beloved actors and actresses that it seems reasonable to say that his technique is a healthy, valuable tool that every aspiring young artist should take advantage of in their own practice and performance. His overall goal seems to have been to free the actor, not hinder them. The real challenge is allowing ourselves, as actors, to be free to experiment and learn. In his book, Chekhov said, “Discover the differences between the character and yourself. The similarities will take care of themselves.” If an actor truly believes this, then they will make conscious decisions, resulting in a compelling, unique, and informed performance that is worthy of the character they are portraying.
Open Document