Tag Archives: hamlet

The Play’s The Thing (Chekhov course online)

“A good actor must acquire the directors broad, all-embracing view of the performance as a whole if he is to compose his own part in full harmony with it”.

“for the modern theatre all Shakespearean plays should be shortened and scenes even transposed in order to give them their proper tempo and increase their driving force.”

Michael Chekhov . To the Actor.

For the next course, and in a sense following on from the massively enjoyable Directing course Declan Drohan and I have just led online, I want to explore the idea of us being actor and director together, of flexing both sets of artistic muscles. After all when we devise these days, many of us are working alone.

So we will approach this course to begin with as directors then move into the realm of acting with lots of work on Chekhov and voice as we venture into one of the soliloquies of Hamlet in your own fantasy productions . Interestingly when Chekhov himself played the role  he felt he was not the ideal actor for it and he too also directed it. 

Through our Creative Individuality do we mesh our creation as the conductor with our principal actors? and what sensibilities do we as modern director/performers bring to this extraordinary work of Hamlet? How do we want our audience to feel when it is over? what do they take away? As Peter Brook says in his absolutely wonderful book Evoking (and Forgetting) Shakespeare,

“a director can take any play of Shakespeare’s and make it contemporary in the crudest simplest way – one must recognise the gap between a crude modernising of the text and the amazing potential within it that is being ignored.” 

Chekhov’s idea of editing, shortening and transposing is much healthier than the English attitude. Whilst I agree with Brook that every change we make impacts on the Feeling of the Whole and we need to be cautious and conscious about what we are doing and why we are doing it, that does not mean we shouldn’t. Our production might have a very different focus.   

So much of these explorations are discussed with exercises in my new book on Shakespeare, Chekhov and young actors, “What Country Friends Is This?” (delayed by covid) to be published soon by Nick Hern Books.

If you are interested in the course then please email chekhovtpi@gmail.com it runs from June 2- 25th, Wednesday and Fridays 16.00 – 18.00 . 120€ waged /90€ low waged/ 75 unwaged (16 hrs workshop)