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

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. 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





Whilst we are slowly but surely going back into the room with our weekend workshops, there is still going to be space 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.  You cannot all make it to Galway for a weekend ! It seems to us that what is important is variety and also connection between the participants from all over the globe! so one of our offerings in the autumn will be a joint online class with Max and Rena Polley from Michael Chekhov Canada called ‘to be Free in the Form’ . the rest of our sessions will be ‘in the room’.

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.


SEPTEMBER 10/11 10-5 and 10-4 (Max and Declan co-teaching)


“If you approach the audition as if you had the job and were working on the part, you will have a much more positive mind-set.” Joanna Merlin: Auditioning.

How do we preserve the freedom and ease of our rehearsal discoveries in the pressurized context of a live audition?

How do we generate playfulness and spontaneity in the this competitive, artificial environment?

We will work with the four brothers, triplicity/creative frame and the architecture of performance to support your creative individuality . We will pay particular attention to your identified ,specific blocks/freezes and difficulties in the audition context.

We will look at the how of translating the directors instructions  into images, colours and spontaneous impulses that you can act

Our purpose is to strenghen your grasp of the chekhov tools – breath ,ease and relaxation -enabling you maintain the lightness and grace of your work under pressure.


Some characters and situations are impossible to explore through our own immediate experience and are far easier to explore through the archetypes, atmospheres and image centres. These Chekhov elements provide incredible depth and variety. Let’s consider, The Moon/Death in Blood Wedding or the Button Moulder and the Trolls in Peer Gynt. just because or perhaps, because these characters are fantastical there is a danger they become thin stereotypes or merely the slave to the director or designers concept. But shouldn’t the characterisation really comes from us, the actors? And don’t those fantastical archetypal characters offer us something a ‘realistic’ character does not?

After exploring the above elements , Max and Declan will be inviting the participants to apply what they have discovered.


This workshop is for those who feel stuck in their head or need to be in control of their audition or performance. Acting demands a feeling of spontaneity and play within the confines of a script. How do you find this freedom within the form? Using elements of improv, play and tools from the Michael Chekhov technique, we will explore how to spark and expand the imagination and then allow this to be alive within the structure of a scene. Online, as we practise, the container is your room, but within it you need to be free. You need to be Free in the Form. Professionally, you need it for filming especially, as you might be asked to do things with specificity yet still find the much needed freedom and spontaneity within your scene.

This online course is taught by Max Hafler from Galway Ireland and Rena Polley from Toronto, Canada.