3

CHEKHOV AS DIRECTOR

CHOOSING THE FOCUS

Michael Chekhov's career moves through different phases and one way of looking at these is in terms of the roles of actor, director and teacher. As his career progressed each of these became more important in turn, although the others didn't disappear altogether. By the time Chekhov moved to Dartington, it was the teacher and director roles which were dominant, and the same was true while the Chekhov Studio was at Ridgefield. Chekhov did consider playing King Lear in the Studio production, but eventually decided against it. By the time he moved to Hollywood, the stage actor had pretty much disappeared, although he enjoyed his film acting. Chekhov the director had also faded and Chekhov the teacher was very much to the fore. Of course, from Chekhov's perspective, these can all be seen as aspects of Chekhov the artist and as an expression of his creative individuality; we might also add to these roles Chekhov as author, designer and graphic artist.

Which of these roles is most useful for us in understanding Chekhov's practice? Should we be focusing on Chekhov the actor and his great stage roles? Should we be looking in detail at Chekhov's performance as Khlestakov in Stanislavsky's production of The Government Inspector? Or at his performance as Erik XIV in Vakhtangov's production? If we take this route aren't we then only focusing on an individual actor's technique, rather than on the production as a whole?

-81-

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Michael Chekhov
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • 1 - Biography and Context 1
  • 2 - Writings on the Technique of Acting 35
  • 3 - Chekhov as Director 81
  • 4 - Practical Exercises 113
  • Bibliography 145
  • Index 149
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