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.




For the audience, the actor is the living, radiating presence at the heart of drama.

What skills and tools make the performer subtle, responsive and capable of transformation? The ability to transition into someone other than themselves…To convey a character.

Working through the Imagination and the Body, the Chekhov Technique offers a suite of strategies for the actor to achieve exactly this.

The journey begins here. this day long workshop will give you an exploratory look in seeing acting in a different way. 

Wear loose, comfortable clothing you can move in.
Bare feet or socks…( its a yoga studio)

Spring courses 2023

Chekhov on Chekhov

6th/7th January 10 – 5 and 10 – 4

Tutors Max Hafler/Declan Drohan

In this two day workshop, we will explore the polarity between comedy and tragedy in Anton Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’.  

Stanislavski was convinced the major Chekhov plays were tragedies, and the gloom and introspection of this assertion has followed the performance histories of the plays right up to the present day.

Anton Chekhov insisted they were comedies, and was dismayed by the silences, pauses and weightiness that derailed his intention. It’s interesting to note that life is, for most of us, a juxtaposition of both extremes, that comedy comes laced with tragedy, and vice versa; that there is something to be gained from exploring these polarities which opens up the world of the play to a rich range of interpretations.

The Michael Chekhov Technique offers us the tools to explore these possibilities to their fullest extent, and perhaps to find the delicious balance, or tipping point between.

We will explore style , polarity, tension between interior and exterior worlds and tempo in exploring some key scenes from the play.

120 employed/100 low wage/80 unwaged.

That Ensemble Feeling

Jan 21st April 1st. Six Alternate Saturdays

Tutors Max Hafler/Declan Drohan

Michael Chekhov believed in the power of the Artistic Ensemble. Many theatre groups, teachers and directors have faith in it. After all what is it that binds the orchestra who play a symphony. The music binds all the players no matter what instrument they play. Many techniques teach a precision and focus but often these end up as clever choreography without the intangible connection between an ensemble which is something which can be admired for its pictures and precision but not the intangible connection which the Chekhov Technique bestows on performers. With this vocabulary deep ensemble responses can be found and placed in devising work, creating depth and quality.

The kind of ensemble we are talking about is where the performer is seen as the primary resource for the storytelling .it often involves multiple parts to one actor which in itself acknowledges a more flexible connection to the audience.

Over the six Saturdays we will be studying particular aspects of our live work which offers elements of the Chekhov technique

Cost 300 for all 6 workshops (you can pay in 2 or three instalments) (or 60  per day)

Connecting up:   four weeks online. International class ! focussing on the body
Feb 8th – March 1st 16.00 – 18.00 Irish Time. Tutor Max Hafler

Connecting up: a four week international class online with tutor Max Hafler on the principle of connection. Michael Chekhov believed that Body,Imagination, Voice and Feelings are connected up. This is an incredibly holistic thing and great to explore online, where it is paradoxically easier to focus and explore these connections because of the privacy it affords us as performers. We often dare more in our own space. 

Cost  80€/ 65€ low waged/50 unwaged.