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.”


img_2993The 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




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

Declan Drohan

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.

 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.







Autumn  Michael Chekhov workshops


Finding it in the Body.

Psychological Gesture and Directions

Oct 12/13/14.


Through dynamic psycho-physical exercises the performer explores finding sensations, feelings, intentions, rhythms and psychology of the character. Michael Chekhov’s signature tool is Psychological Gesture. Once learned, using gesture allows you to find quickly what you believe to be the how? and the what? of the character in the various moments, for a scene or perhaps a whole play.  This gesture is not something you show to the audience but something you internalise and connect to to keep you in tune with your character’s journey. It  gives you a massive canvas, freeing your creativity as to who, what and how the character might be. The play we will be using will be Antigone by Jean Anouilh.


Friday 7-9.30 pm

Saturday 10-5

Sunday 10-4.

Cost 80 euro

Email  to secure your place with a deposit. Numbers limited.


The Rest is Silence

A workshop on pauses

Nov 9,10,11.


What happens between characters when they are not speaking ? How often do we see meaningless pauses?


A pause is a place of incredible intensity for the character. It is to do with the invisible with energy; a digesting of tragedy or good fortune, a struggle between people and inner decision.  Michael Chekhov says it is often to do with something that is going to happen or a response to something that has happened. It has an impact. We do know that when there is a pause, something happens.  There is an ocean of energy swirling between people. That is often how it feels anyway, and if we want an audience to feel the full potency of the pause we need to believe it. This workshop will explore atmosphere, energy and qualities of movement particularly. A decision on the play we will use will be made later.


This weekend will enrich your work on character, and enhance the way you work with your scene partner.


Friday 7-9.30 pm

Saturday 10-5

Sunday 10-4.

Cost 80 euro

Email  to secure your place with a deposit. Numbers limited.

“A little piece of Art”
finding a sense of form in the character, the piece or the play through the Michael Chekhov Technique.

Michael Chekhov said that everything you did, every exercise , every improvisation, every scene, every play needed a ‘feeling of form’ and a “feeling of Entirety”. We are going to explore these two fundamental planks of Chekhov Technique to enable us to create more believable and focussed characters and performances using the psycho-physical technique which through the imagination and the body takes us to new realms as performers.

Getting the whole understanding of form in our bodies is crucial. How do you start a scene? What are the dynamics? And how does the scene end? And what happens in between? Working with tableaux, gesture and transformation, we will work with a yet to be decided text as well as improvisation. This technique will give a strong grid on which to work, yet at the same time give you as a performer/director an immense freedom. It is both completely practical and helps the performer to express the invisible.

It is going to be exciting.

To apply – email

cost of four days training 180€  [tuition only] Tutor Max Hafler.

Spring courses 2018

Venue NUI Galway

May 11th – 13th

This workshop beginning on Friday evening and finishing on Sunday at 5pm will focus particularly on exercises from Max’s book Teaching voice published by Nick Hern books, and will work primarily using Chekhov exercises, along with more conventional voice work, to open our voices to the text.

“The nature of the actor’s creative and expressive process is complex because the raw material is the human being who performs. Hafler understands this  and combines very effectively the teachings of Michael Chekhov with work on voice to awaken all aspects of the performer.” Youth Theatre Ireland on Teaching Voice

Suitable for actors, students, directors, designers [as long as they like to perform] .
cost 150/120 euro email



Past courses 2017



3rd – 5th November

The character does not have to have the same voice as us. This is not just a matter of accent or where we place our voice. As soon as we start to use imaginative exercises we can explore something far deeper.

This weekend workshop offers THE PERFORMER ways to enliven and connect the speaking voice outside of the traditional exercises. We will of course be visiting and reminding ourselves of those, but we will also be working on small pieces of text using Michael Chekhov based exercises from Max’s book Teaching Voice, published by Nick Hern Books
Please email to book your place
weekend cost 80€
Friday Evening 7-10
Saturday 1 – 6
Sunday 10 – 5

(some experience)
​This weekend is useful for Actors, performers and directors who consider that decisive moment when you enter the world of the play and when you leave it. When you go onto a stage you are leaving the offstage world of the play behind for the onstage world of the play. But you as the actor are stepping into a new space, not only into another room but into the world of the theatre. You are walking into the atmosphere of the scene which in turn is amplified by the gaze of the audience. We will fully explore these moments by looking at a number of given scenes through the practise of some of the Chekhov work. We will look at and experience how the weight of the past follows the character into the room. this is not to create a kind of soap opera moment but a powerful and meaningful arrival or departure.

Friday Evening 7-10
Saturday 1 – 6
Sunday 10 – 5
Read for more information.
Cost :
80€ location Galway city
Booking. email to book your place with a 40euro deposit or phone 086 330 7325 for more info.
tutors Max Hafler

Courses  2016.

After an exciting series of freestanding spring weekend workshops commencing with Chekhov and Devising, followed by Directing with Chekhov Technique and an Introduction Weekend, CTPI then went on with Expressing the Invisible, in collaboration with
The Centre For Drama, Theatre and Performance NUI Galway  which took place in The View , the Student Centre NUI Galway over four days in August: IMG_2111 copy.JPGMichael Chekhov believed that the job of the actor and theatre maker was to make the intangible, tangible and to reveal the invisible to the audience. That is what the workshop set out to explore working with a well known Irish text. We hope to run this course again next August and will bring information as soon as we get it.


Barry Cullen, Mary Monaghan, Ronan Cassidy, Naia Martz

Continuers – I am a Seagull! Autumn 2016


Arkardina (Sarah O’Toole) and Trigorin (Eoin Geogheghan) scene study. Photo John McHugh

This year we ran a series of six Sundays working with people with some experience of Chekhov Technique; professionals teachers and students. These six five hour sessions took place on Sundays from 11- 5 with an hour for lunch.   They took the participants through from practise to application.

Courses 2017

IMG_1949 copy

Janna Lindstrom and Conor Geogheghan in a recent CTPI workshop

Weekend One Openers 24-26 Feb . Galway City. Body and Imagination first.

This weekend , beginning on Friday evening and working through till Sunday evening will allow you to explore creating character and narrative through body, energy and imagination, work that is at the heart of Michael Chekhov’s extraordinarily creative Acting Technique. It reminds us that performers are artists first and foremost and that our capabilities are infinite.
This course is for people new to the work, which includes the more experienced who may be meeting Michael Chekhov’s work for the first time. The course allows you to work at your own level.Ideal for directors /actors/ people interested in working with energy. Maximum 12.

Weekend Two Openers 10-12 March . Character. This weekend focuses on exploring aspects of Character within a text using the technique. What ways can we use to illuminate aspects of character as we experience them as artists? Working with Centres, Gesture and Imaginary Body in particular, we start to explore how we can create characters quite unlike us using the Chekhov Work.

This course is for people new to the work, which includes the more experienced who may be meeting the Chekhov work for the first time. The course allows you to work at your own level.Short scene work from a given play.
Weekend three . (24th – 26th March ) Continuers. Working with Chorus . Based on Max’s voice book published by Nick Hern Books, TEACHING VOICE, this weekend is for actors, directors, students and youth theatre facilitators focusing on using Chekhov technique to develop vocal opportunity. The participant will work with their own piece of text as well as a choric piece in half groups.
This course is for people with a little experience in either voice or Chekhov work, and more advanced students and performers. Maximum 12

Weekend four. [31st March – 2nd April] Continuers – The Rest is Silence. Michael Chekhov made a big plank of his work the movement of energy within silence. Paying attention to this aspect of work can pay massive dividends to performers and audiences alike as we start to understand what actually happens in silences, encompassing the movement of energy between performer/characters and finding out what might be going on and how to share that with our audience.

Booking. email to book your place with a 30euro deposit .
if you want to book all four workshops there is a discount available. Places are limited.


Following on from CTPI’s highly successful ‘Exploring the Invisible’ summer school last year, ‘Journey through Atmosphere’ focuses on two of the most important aspects of the Chekhov work. A performance takes us on a journey and through that journey the character takes action. A strong tool for an actor to discover the character journey or indeed the journey of a whole play is through psychological gesture, a way of using the body to unearth psychological actions and qualities for the character .These actions do not take place in a vacuum however and the workshop will spend an equal amount of time on Atmosphere and how it influences what the characters want and how they act. By combining these two Chekhov tools, participants will be able to take these two powerful tools into the rehearsal room. A little knowledge of Chekhov Technique would be valuable. If in doubt email to discuss it. 23 hours training.
The play we will be working with is one of the epic ‘journey’ plays, PERICLES by Shakespeare which travels through a number of ‘lands’ each with their particular atmosphere. For actors, directors and designers.
Apply by email to check out the website cost 180 euro.Tutor Max Hafler




I would say that ‘openers’ is literally that. If you have an interest and are new to the work or have participated in up to a couple of weekend courses , the openers course is for you. It might be that you have done more but you need a refresher. That would work too.

A continuer means you have to have been to at least two weekend courses [not necessarily with me] . If you have done a lot of work, I will work to the level you are at with the technique.

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 .