Chekhov Training and Performance Ireland

Chekhov Training and Performance Ireland

“The body of an actor must absorb psychological qualities, must be filled and permeated with them so that they will convert it gradually into a sensitive membrane.”

“Cold analytic, materialistic thinking tends to throttle the urge to the imagination.”


The objective of Chekhov Training and Performance Ireland is twofold; first, to promote the Michael Chekhov Acting technique in Ireland through quality training  courses for actors, directors, writers and teaching artists; and secondly the development of performance  projects using the Chekhov technique as the bedrock of the rehearsal process

Who was Michael Chekhov?

Michael Chekhov

Michael Chekhov [1891-1955] was one of the most innovative actor/director/teachers of the 20th century. A nephew of the great playwright Anton Chekhov, he acted in the Moscow Arts Theatre with extraordinary success, occasionally coming into conflict with Stanislavski and others that worked there. His journey across Europe and eventually to the United States, where he acted in Hollywood movies [most notably in Hitchcock’s SPELLBOUND], taught and influenced a whole number of famous and less famous actors, is one of both frustration and triumph.

And the Technique?

Chekhov’s great legacy is his technique. His concept of psycho-physical exercises, where the character is discovered though images, and physicalisation of the character’s psychological drives, makes acting absolutely thrilling and magical. It expands the creative boundaries for a person not by working directly from ‘real life’ but from the vast palette of the creative imagination. Whilst this might appear at first glance to be somewhat ethereal, it opens the performer in a real and powerful way. The technique reminds us that the theatre is an art.

Max Hafler – founder and co-artistic Director


Max Hafler is a highly experienced theatre teacher and director. He trained with the Michael Chekhov Association in the U.S., and has been teaching Chekhov for many years. He teaches the technique at NUI Galway and has taught it in many other colleges, including the Lir. He has also developed the Technique in Devising and for use in Applied Drama situations. One of his main interests is developing the work for directors, and he has directed several productions with the technique as the bedrock of the process. His book, “Teaching Voice” was published by Nick Hern Books for youth leaders and teachers using Voice and Chekhov Technique, in 2016, and “What Country Friends Is This?” covers directing Shakespeare with young people and explores primarily, Chekhov technique, Devising and Directing. He ran a professional theatre company called Theatrecorp which utilised the Chekhov Technique extensively. 

Joanna Merlin , president of the Michael Chekhov Association says

“I was a student of Michael Chekhov’s in the last five years of his life. The atmosphere that he created was one of joyfulness, freedom, enlargement, permission and a belief in every actor’s creative individuality. I feel that Max embraces and radiates that spirit of Michael Chekhov fully and intuitively. Max’s understanding and application of this work is vital to the development of the actor’s creative instrument. “

Declan Drohan – Co Artistic Director.

Declan Drohan M.A. H.Dip.Ad.Ed. currently lectures on the BA Hons. Programme in Performing Arts at Atlantic Technological University  Sligo, and the multidisciplinary MA in Creative Practice . A graduate of the Gaiety School Of Acting, he is the former course leader of the acting programme at T.U.D’s prestigious Conservatory Of Music and Drama, Rathmines, Dublin.  In a thirty year career, his work as a director has encompassed everything from radical reappraisals of classical texts to stagings of new writing and innovative community based projects integrating individuals with often profound disabilities into large scale, mainstream theatre projects, and fourteen years as Senior Youth Theatre Director at the Glens Centre, Manorhamilton where he serves as a board member. His consultancy and training work in adult education, theatre training and disability/equality settings was the focus of his work for a period in the 90’s, with many of the techniques and work processes developed radicalising his teaching and directing work.

His visibility on the Dublin Theatre festival scene has been consistent since relocating to the North West Of Ireland, (How I Failed to Become a Popstar- 2001, Frank Pig says Hello – 2005, Little Dark Star – 2006, Beneath the Bone Moon – 2015) , in addition to directing the annual ‘Bespoke ‘ graduate showcase of emerging acting talent at the Project Arts Centre, Bewley’s Theatre, and the Lyric Theatre Belfast.

For the past seven years, his directing of the Yeats Project has become a major outreach project for the BA Honours programme at ATU Sligo, with performances of the texts in the college’s own Black Box Space, the Yeats Building, Sligo and the Glens Centre, Manorhamilton.

His studies in the past six years have seen him complete training with international Faculty from MCE and MICHA in Michael Chekhov Technique and embark on related practice based research. He is Co Director of Chekhov Training and Performance Ireland and a member of the Chekhov Circle International Studios Group and the MCE Teachers Group. He is  adjudicating four festivals for ADCI in 2022 and teaching for the 2nd year in a row at the DLI Summerschool at UL. He is a member of the Association of Drama Adjudicators.

for information: contact 0(0353) 86 330 7325



 Current Spring courses 2023

​ The Shakespeare Connection .Online course with Max Hafler and guest tutor Liz Shipman April 15/22/29/May 6th

In Shakespeare more than any other playwright, we the audience are friends and collaborators in the characters and we, the actors are friend and collaborators with the audience. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Richard the Third as we accompany him on his dark journey of villainy. As actors and lovers of Shakespeare we might explore these questions; “Is the audience a character?””Can we be sensitive to the audiences energy  and can we allow that to affect the character themselves?”  “Is the audience complicit in the character’s journey?” “In soliloquies, how does the audience energy affect the actors choices of direct address or introspection?” “How do we as artists make these decisions?”   Through exploration of the text, and Michael Chekhov’s exercises we will try to explore these questions which take us to the heart of what must be a live event.

Liz Shipman—Director/Choreographer, Specialist in Psychophysical Actor Training, Acting Shakespeare and Active Integrations. Co-Artistic Director of the Meisner/Chekhov Integrated Training Studio in San Diego (2013-present),Co-Artistic Director of the Kings County Shakespeare Company (NYC) where she directed and/or choreographed over 50 productions (1983-2001),Certified Laban Movement Analyst, self-taught & trained in the Chekhov work(1987-present). Her approach integrates the work of Michael Chekhov, Rudolph Laban, Irmgard Bartenieff and Arthur Lessac.In 2020, she launched Virtually Shakespeare, a recurring course on Zoom. Liz relishes working with language-rich texts & creating work that engages both the actor & the audience through heightened atmospheres & fully committed performances.

Max Hafler is the author of Teaching Voice, and “What Country Friends is This?” both published by Nick Hern books. His work on Shakespeare with young people using the Chekhov Technique is documented in the second book . Max trained at LAMDA and worked as an actor for several years before expanding into play writing, teaching and directing. His company Theatrecorp was dedicated to presenting classical work in the West of Ireland, which included Shakespeare, Beckett, Lorca, Marlowe and Webster. .  



Holding On and Letting Go (In Studio) 

 – working with Balancing , Rising, and Falling (using the body to explore the specifics of terror using The Crucible ) 

In this day long, in-the-room workshop, we will be exploring the inner dynamics and outer expression of ways to play characters on a knife edge. We will be looking at the different ‘pulls’ of what Michael Chekhov called the Three Sisters, (balancing, floating(rising) and falling) and like much of his technique we will be finding these primarily in the body. Using these processes you can find very specifically intangible sensations and feelings for the character and we will be exploring these using short scenes from The Crucible, the play about the Salem witch trials, which was written as a response to the McCarthy trials of the 1950s. The play, set in a harsh unstable world of the religious right, with dangers within and without, is somewhere everyone is trying to find balance and safety… (parallels with our present reality are all too apparent.)

Declan Drohan and Max Hafler are the tutors of Chekhov Training and Performance Ireland.  

Free T shirt if you are amongst the first 5 booked! Please indicate size on registration. 

Venue NUI Galway.

Saturday May 27th  10 – 5

cost 60€


The Polarities of Being. 

23rd  May – 13th June 4 workshops 16.00 – 18.00

Online with Max Hafler. 

Within every quality exists its opposite. Within the bully there exists the bullied. Within the Courageous, somewhere there exists the Fearful. Within the Lucky lives the Unfortunate. Within the Trivial lurks the Profound. How we see our characters as negotiating these opposites or polarities, as Michael Chekhov called them, can indicate to us something that resonates with us as performers, 

Finding the polarity of a character, and working with the polarity in a speech, or indeed a characters journey through the play, provides us  with resonant pathways  which are both liberating but keep us on track in our work.

Not only that, but,using the whole play, polarities can live in the production as the spine of the play or devised piece. They can guide directors, actors and designers to a Feeling of The Whole and a holistic production where directors,set and actors fold together in a common purpose, without destroying the creative individuality of each artist involved. 

 Cost 100€ waged/80 unwaged