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 – resident teacher

6Max 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. 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.

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. “

for information: contact 0(0353) 86 330 7325





Though we are fully intending to start some in-the-room workshops over the summer , including a back-to-the-room studio day on May 28th here in Galway, for the time being there still seems to be a lot of support for online learning . As I have talked about many times on our pandemic journey, there are many pluses to the online situation but also some downsides. Though we are being told we will be able to shed the masks one of the great trials of last year for me was trying to teach voice in the room with masked students. It was completely counter intuitive. Recently I ran a voice class online …it was a delight. It seems to us that what is important is variety and also connection between the participants from all over the globe! Right now, Rena Polley from Michael Chekhov Canada and I are running a course on COMEDY DRAMA and TRAGEDY .

CTPI is making a few changes, one of which is welcoming Declan Drohan my colleague, Lecturer at IT Sligo who teaches on the BA in Performing arts, and the MA in creative practice, as a co partner in the organisation. We have been co-teaching together both in the room and online very successfully for the past few years and hope now to provide online, in the room, projects and hybrid classes teaching, sometimes together and sometimes alone . In addition we are hoping to invite other international teachers to work with us.



‘ I am honoured and excited about my increased role in CTPI. I see our legacy role as being to consolidate and and further deepen the possibilities of exploring the transformative Chekhov work in our live and online projects for our Irish community of actors, teachers, directors and facilitators , and our increasing international audience. I am looking forward to exploring how we apply the technique in all the varied settings our community work in , and exploring the possibilities of directing with the Chekhov tools, and incorporating them into our teaching and workshop practice.


Declan Drohan



Using Brian Friel’s ‘Faith Healer’ , we will explore solo characterization  through application of core Chekhov technique approaches, including direction, atmosphere and polarity . We will explore the architecture of performance, that is the shape and three fold aspect of beginning, middle and end as it applies to any section of text. The beginnings of characterization – the character as a figure in a landscape, as yet undefined.

This template can be used by you to develop full , rich , embodied characterizations in your future work.

Choose one character and two short, contrasting extracts as a basis for our exploration.

3 2hr sessions , Wednesdays  6 – 8 GMT March 16/2330TH ONLINE

Cost 70 waged / 60 low waged / 40 unwaged. 

Declan Drohan

Declan Drohan M.A H.Dip.Ad.Ed. lectures on Performing Arts Hons Degree Programme at IT Sligo. Former Course Leader of Acting Programme at Conservatory of Music and Drama DIT Rathmines, Declan trained with Gaiety School Of Acting and Michael Chekov Europe. Recent acting work includes award winning short films ‘ The Date ‘ and Mr L’s Limbo. He is a member of the popular Dark Leaves Theatre Co vintage radio company. His directing credits include Cathleen Ni Houlihan at Lisadell House and the Hawkswell Sligo, and Frank Pig Says Hello and Beneath the Bone Moon at the Dublin Theatre Festival.


March 29/April 5/ April 12/ april 19. SPEAKING THROUGH THE BODY. 4 90 MINUTE SESSIONS . Using the Chekhov technique and a short given piece of Shakespeare, participants will use the body as a conduit to find truth and variety, particularly in the voice and text they are speaking .  EXPANDING CONTRACTING /RADIATING RECEIVING  qualities… using the body for Feeling and language….

Tutor Max Hafler Mondays  4.30-6 GMT

cost 85 waged/65 low waged/ 45 unwaged.

MAY 28TH…. 10-4. WE INVITE YOU TO RETURN! The Theatre of Joy (a one day workshop)

Chekhov Training and Performance Ireland

Activate – Connect – Radiate venue TBC

After our long Covid hibernation, Max and Declan invite you a day long, celebratory return to live engagement.

We will explore breath, connection , energy, playfulness and ensemble . We will stoke the fires of imagination and begin to chart our course for future work….

Looking forward to seeing you there ! Venue and cost TBA



A revisiting connecting up the body, imagination, feelings and voice which are at the absolute core of the Michael Chekhov approach.

Wednesday 4.30-6.00pm cost 85 waged/65 low waged/ 45 unwaged.




Michael Chekhov’s signature focus is on Imagination and Body and connecting up the body to the thoughts, feelings and motivations of the character in a way that the body can fully express the character’s psychology.  Psychological Gesture offers us not only the deep intentions of the character but also how they are doing it. If Chekhov’s work interests you  and you would like to attend this workshop then please write to us with two things. What is your interest in this work? How much experience have you had? Just a short note will do. Email It would be good if you had a reasonable space to move around in (we will be working through the body) and a reasonable internet connection.

The tutor is Max Hafler

This 90 minute workshop is free.


Rhythm, Tempo, Colour and Wholeness

Four sessions online with Max Hafler and Guest Declan Drohan

4.00 – 6.00 (27TH AUGUST – 17TH SEPTEMBER) One session per week.

This quote from Michael Chekhov highlights the idea that we need to treat our plays like a piece of music and we want to explore this using the short play by Yeats, CALVARY. Made up with Chorus of Musicians , spoken solos and duets, Calvary is an ideal piece to explore this aspect of the Chekhov work. Rhythm, Tempo  and a Feeling of Wholeness which comes from feelings, images, form and the direction of energy, gives our performances life. Harnessing this energy is crucial to creating work on both stage and film and making connection.  For performers, directors and explorers.

COST 80 WAGED/ 60 part time/ 45 unwaged


Declan Drohan ( ChekovLab Ireland) M.A H.Dip.Ad.Ed. lectures on Performing Arts Hons Degree Programme at IT Sligo. Former Course Leader of Acting Programme at Conservatory of Music and Drama DIT Rathmines, Declan trained with Gaiety School Of Acting and Michael Chekov Europe. Recent acting work includes award winning short films ‘ The Date ‘ and Mr L’s Limbo. He is a member of the popular Dark Leaves Theatre Co vintage radio company. His directing credits include Cathleen Ni Houlihan at Lisadell House and the Hawkswell Sligo, and Frank Pig Says Hello and Beneath the Bone Moon at the Dublin Theatre Festival.



Working with small roles in plays and films.

A modicum of experience of the Chekhov technique (no more than 12 participants)

4 Sessions : tutor Max Hafler

27TH SEPTEMBER – 18TH OCTOBER  4.00 – 5.30

Small roles in plays or films can be an extraordinary problem for an actor and yet the majority of us are in that situation. Our ego tells us we have loads to offer and yet we have to fit into this project with energy when we may have only a few minutes stage/screen time. Yet our contribution can be enormous and telling under the right circumstances. Looking Brecht, Shakespeare, Chekhov and a modern TV script, we will explore and share this dilemma using the Michael Chekhov technique to find the balance.

COST 60/45/ 35

Climbing Into the Language. Working with Chekhov Technique and Voice

10-30. – 16.30  29th October

Working with Keats’ Ode To Autumn, we will be exploring the poem by ‘climbing into the language ‘ – a wonderful expression by one of my participants this year. Working with atmosphere and several of the techniques I have developed over my years as a director and voice teacher which mix Chekhov and voice training methods. We will rediscover the power of the word, its direction, colour and atmosphere both alone and then in phrases. A limit of ten people for this workshop

COST 35 waged /20 unwaged


Screenshot 2020-06-05 09.03.14

One to One sessions- Let It Begin. (1)

If your connection to the Chekhov technique is fairly new then these 4 / 60 minute sessions will act as something for your understanding and practise. Perhaps you want to reconnect with the work after an absence. Above all we have to remember that Chekhov Technique is an experiential practise so much of our time together will be working on Spy back or Flyback, that is looking back on the experiences you have had when practicing the technique, though we will do SOME exercises in our face to face time together. Clearly we will be restricted somewhat but for now that has to be ok.

You will need to have learned an 8-10 line speech from a play you know well. I would prefer it not to be from a movie.

Session One: Qualities of movement and an introduction to Gesture
Session Two: Working with Imagination
Session Three: Working with Centres
Session Four: Psychological Gesture.

please email  for information on how to register and book.

Screenshot 2020-06-07 10.09.40One to One sessions- Let It Begin. (2) Working with Character (1)

In this block of four weeks, the student will be introduced to the uses of Imaginary Centres, Imaginary Body and Personal Atmosphere working with a specific play in four one hour sessions.

One to One Sessions – Let it Begin (3) Working with Character (3

Working with Character Journeys, Personal Atmosphere and Archetypes.


Declan Drohan ( ChekovLab Ireland) M.A H.Dip.Ad.Ed. lectures on Performing Arts Hons Degree Programme at IT Sligo. Former Course Leader of Acting Programme at Conservatory of Music and Drama DIT Rathmines, Declan trained with Gaiety School Of Acting and Michael Chekov Europe. Recent acting work includes award winning short films ‘ The Date ‘ and Mr L’s Limbo. He is a member of the popular Dark Leaves Theatre Co vintage radio company. His directing credits include Cathleen Ni Houlihan at Lisadell House and the Hawkswell Sligo, and Frank Pig Says Hello and Beneath the Bone Moon at the Dublin Theatre Festival.



January 6th – 29th 8 sessions  Wednesday 4.30 – 6.30 Friday 4.30 – 6.30

Working with Anton Chekhov’s THE THREE SISTERS, participants will work towards creating scenes from this play having spent time exploring and creating through IMAGINATION, CENTRE AND BODY WORK, elements of the Michael Chekhov technique. We will not work in isolation but to some extent as if the play was being directed with the group. There will be two sessions per week through the month of January to give a strong sense of concentration on the work. We will work also with General Atmosphere

This module is for people with some Chekhov experience interested in not just awakening their Chekhov skills but also addressing as seriously as we can in the time that we have issues of application of the work.

120€ Waged / 100 low wage/part time / 80 not doing paid work

Working from 6th January – 29th. January



OCTOBER 18 -20


Tutor: Max Hafler



Using images as spurs for psychological experiences or ways of being for the character is a brilliant way to find something deep, quirky and genuine in your work. In order this does not become some kind of actor’s trick, we need to explore the process of training our actor’s mind to concentrate, not in the way we learn in school or college, but in a more holistic and open way. Chekhov says we have to fall in love with images, to invite them in, in order to find the full power of how images can enrich our performances in ways that simply ‘identifying with the character’ can not. In this weekend we will be exploring this use of using imagery, working with scenes and speeches from Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information.



IMG_6260This weekend we are going to look at the polarities of Good and Evil and how they affect how we play a character. Of course we can say “the audience have to make up their own minds” but to my mind, and to the mind of Michael Chekhov this is perhaps something of an abrogation of responsibility.   As artists we need to have a view and the audience does not need to agree with us. It need not be a simplistic view of heroes and villains; it can be riven with complexity and you can feel these energies moving and working inside you as you inhabit your role. Chekhov uses King Lear to discuss his rules of composition, one of his most important contributions to theatre art and this is the play we will focus in for the weekend.  Chekhov was not asking the actor/artist to moralise or produce stereotypical performance but that we as artists have to consider this polarity of good and evil when we are working on the character, especially when working on a play like Lear. We might say that Cornwall, Regan, Goneril, Oswald and Edmund are on the side of evil, but how do they express it and what do they do and are there any moments in their stage lives where we see the opposite polarity tugging them in a different direction creating a more nuanced playing? How does this polarity affect them, tear them apart? There are a host of possibilities.

 email to reserve your place

The Summer School 2019  August 15-18th.




Chekhov technique is not just for those inspired yet elusive moments. Working on one of the most influential plays of the 20th Century, a raw look at the effects of poverty, alienation and madness, this four-day course run by Max Hafler and guest tutor Declan Drohan, uses the Michael Chekhov technique to open up the play and prepare scenes from it. Before the workshop we will let participants know what Chekhov elements we will be principally exploring so they can prepare for the workshop.  This workshop is for actors, directors and students.

Tutors : Max Hafler with Guest Tutor Declan Drohan

For this workshop I am delighted to have as guest tutor Declan Drohan working with me to create this workshop

 The cost is 200€ for four days. (training only)

Email or to book your place

All courses bar the summer school cost 90€ . They run

Friday 7 -9.30 pm

Saturday 10-5 pm

Sunday 10-4 pm.

Enter An Actor – the Architecture of Solo Performance  (Jan 25th-27th)


Declan Drohan Guest Tutor with Max for this workshop

Solo work requires a particular focus and an acknowledgement that in the end you are not alone at all – your partners are the audience and the resonating space where you perform. As a character you are coming from another world to meet Them. At the same time, you as the actor are making a compact with the audience. This compact is in a way at its strongest in solo performance as you fill the stage as someone else, and people the imagination with the other characters in their world – some of whom you might actually play for us, the audience.

Appearing in solo work means no one else is coming on. You are on your own….in a way.

Whether you are appearing in a solo play, working on a play with big monologues, or working on an audition speech where in a sense you have to direct the whole play imaginatively in order to give your piece focus and a sense of the whole, you need to prepare yourself and your energies in a particular way.

This workshop looks, through the exercises of Michael Chekhov Technique at the architecture of performance, the shape of a piece, variety, tempo, silence and radiating receiving with our partner, the audience.

For this workshop I am delighted to have as guest tutor Declan Drohan working with me to create this workshop

 The Epic Voice  (Feb 15-17)

IMG_3559Using atmosphere and treating text like a piece of music we will set about exploring our voices on an epic piece of text to find new and authentic ways of speaking. The character does not need to have our voice. It is not just a question of having an accent.

Mixing regular voice work with focussed experimental Chekhov work, using many of the exercises Max developed in his book Teaching Voice, what we discover will be of use for scripted and devised work. Voice is one of the principal ways we radiate the passion of the character and their voice is not necessarily ours. We must develop and explore it.


Character Centre and Imaginary Body (March 29th-31st)

IMG_5226We will be Working with two Chekhov elements together to create character which put the imagination in the spotlight. If the Imaginary body of the character is the vehicle, the character centre is the engine. For this workshop we will be working  with a well known scripted play.

Each weekend has 15 hours training for 90 euro. If you book for two workshops in advance you can have them for 80 each. email to book your place.


Actors are Magicians ! (May 17- 19)

This workshop, beginning on Friday evening  and finishing on Sunday at 5pm  will focus specifically on fundamental elements of the Michael Chekhov Acting Technique focussing on exercises to explore the spectacular vista of the Imagination through the body! How can it help us create as actors, directors and artists?

We will work with a myth, fairy tale or short story. No experience of the Chekhov technique is necessary but some performance experience is required.

90€ for the weekend email

Working with Archetypes – Midsummer Night’s Dream! June 21-23.

For the ‘weekend that’s in it’ , as we say in Ireland, we are going to explore how to enhance our understanding of character through the exploration of archetype using A Midsummer Night’s Dream.. This element of Chekhov technique deepens our understanding, allows us to explore roles, energies and positions in life we feel are beyond our experience; Fairy, Queen, King, Clown, Fool, Master, Servant, Coward, Thief.

We will also be looking at Archetypal atmospheres to see how they too can deepen our understanding and playing of the text.








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Barry Cullen, Mary Monaghan, Ronan Cassidy, Naia Martz


What do I do if I am an experienced actor, but with no knowledge of Chekhov Technique?

I would suggest you attend the Openers class and make me aware of that fact, because whatever your goal, you need to learn the basic principles of the work. I am hoping to do more courses for professionals in years to come. But just email and we can discuss it.

This is all a while away! How do I stay in touch?

Try emailing and say you want to be put on the mailing list .