The Michael Chekhov acting technique, with the movement of energy in the body as one its central tenets, requires you to really be ‘in the room’ when you are working with people. It is hard to express the sensation I feel when teaching, as if I am moulding the session with the help of the participants, or like a boat, steering the class into the wind but aware that some discovery by either myself or the group can send us off into different waters. It is a communion with every single person in the room.
I have been holding back from teaching online partly because my internet coverage is so inadequate – on a Zoom conversation with colleagues the other day I watched everyone as their faces became degas dabs, their words turned into the sound of piano keys, then every so often I caught a sentence or two before finally being cut off. It was upsetting and frustrating particularly as I thought I had found a way to increase my speed and I am still working on it . I am sure these things can work and be embraced, but for now big classes are not the way forward for me personally. One thing I want to do is develop and make time for my own practise and development in the work as I did when I began to train.
For me right now the tools of the Chekhov Technique are as much about maintaining and expanding our sense of mental well being as they are about developing our skills as performers I have used many of the elements in applied drama to help people communicate more effectively and importantly to connect up voice, body, imagination and feelings which makes us into more whole human beings. I am making short voice exercise recordings for radiating/ receiving, breathing and voice. I am putting them on my FB page ‘Teaching Voice’ . These will include some Chekhov work. If you are interested, check these out (there will be six).
In addition I am seeking to run four sessions for beginners one to one, These will be on Skype and Face Time, exploring the very basic principles of some of the work. They will involve exercises and offline practise. email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
There will also be an advanced study group which is more likely to be a discussion/ development group without camera, maybe with audio or just typing. … These will be small groups and be initially free . They will be conducted on Skype..
One to One sessions- Let It Begin.
If your connection to the Chekhov technique is fairly new then these 4 / 45 minute sessions will act as something for your understanding and practise. Perhaps you want to reconnect with the work after an absence. After my own in depth training courses, i would go for months practising alone, before the next one. Above all we have to remember that Chekhov Technique is an experiential practise so much of our time together will be working on 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: Ideal centre. Directions of Energy/ radiating and receiving.
Session Three: General Atmosphere
Session Four: Psychological Gesture.
Focussing sessions for those with some Chekhov Experience(GROUP) SKYPE
This pause in our inability to meet together to practise and develop our acting skills through the Chekhov technique, is also an opportunity to really focus on our practise in the technique, to take more responsibility for it rather than simply getting a buzz from the workshops, which I know is a massive learning tool in itself but it is not everything . So yes, in a sense this might give us a breathing space to give us a chance to focus personally on our relationship to the technique and how it lives in us.
Each week each participant will undertake to do at least 20 minutes per day practising and focussing on a principle of the Chekhov Technique and keep some notes of their discoveries which we will share in our on-line sessions. these on line sessions might be 40 minute checking in sessions and talking through our discoveries. (it’s ok if you don’t have any) For this first four weeks I propose that I suggest the four topics to give us a shape and suggest a few exercises to go with them. The discussion will either take place in chat or with video or audio, which ever works. what’s important is that we connect together.
WEEK ONE : The Dramatic Imagination. Developing our imagination for creativity …working with fairy stories
WEEK TWO Concentration on working with object images to create character. ‘Falling in love’ with the object. Working with images. Making the image larger or smaller
WEEK THREE Working with Energy. energy body. Expanding and shaping the centre.
WEEK FOUR General Atmosphere. Working with a short poem or song. noticing atmospheres in your daily life…
Finally , I have been reflecting a lot about Michael Chekhov himself; how the world was in this completely turbulent and awful madness, violence and cruelty for much of his life. It seems easy to dismiss our work and disrespect the inner artistic development of our lives when ‘there are more important things to think about’. We must not let that feeling win . Our creative soul is every bit as important as it always was, perhaps even more so. in times of deep crisis.