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chekh-OFF players

We are a young theatre company composed of students graduating in the Michael Tschechow Studio Berlin and of other actors.

The aim of our work is the dealing with Michael Chekhov's approach in acting.

In thorough worked out pieces, while including his approach, we want to develop and to perform in new forms of contemporary theatre.


The method

Psychologische Gebaerde In his methodical investigations Michael Chekhov moved the central question, how does the artist get into the state of creative inspiration. To bring about this state consciously and to train it methodically, Michael Chekhov chose the starting point within transformation of thinking. This means that the process of thinking itself, which has been activated trough the actor's capacity of mental concentration, is not to be suppressed by the activity of thinking, but to be transformed into imaginative, pictured thinking.
Michael Chekhovs acting method qualifies the actor to compose its stage-figure in front of his inner eye. During this working process, the figure begins at a certain point to gain an independent life within the actor who then enters into a dialogue with his figure. What has then been seen and found within through this dialogue has now to be portrayed concretely outwardly.
Michael Chekhov often summarized his method in front of his Students with the following words:
Concentration - Imagination - Embodiment.


Michael Chekhov

Michael Tschechow „A star directly close to the heart”, Max Reinhart once characterised the nature of this uncommon artist. Michael Chekhov, nephew of the famous poet Anton Chekhov, has been in a constant search during his lifetime for his own theatre, the „theatre of the future” as he called it. At the age of 21, Chekhov was engaged in the company of the Moscow Art Theatre (MAT). Constantin Stanislavsky spotted back then behind the melancholic look, the slumbering spirit of a genius. Soon Chekhov would rise to one of the most significant artist of the MAT. If would like to understand my method, you will have to watch Michael Chekhov”, Stanislavsky stated one day.

But still both languages of Chekhov and of Stanislavsky were coming from different worlds. Chekhov's idea of modern theatre contradicted in many points old Master Stanislavsky's. After Wachtangows death Michael Chekhov became the head of the 2. MAT. There he could gather experience and develop the basis of his own technique. A self-willing and very daring interpretation of Hamlet drew the opposition of many colleagues and shortly after the one of Stalin's governance. Chekhov had to leave Russia and went to Berlin. A restless time in Europe followed. Chekhov worked in the Baltic States, in Paris, in Vienna and in Berlin. Besides his artistic work, he intensified his studies in Anthroposophy in the course of this time, which became more and more the foundation of his work.

During an America-tour, Beatrice Straight „discovered” him in a performance on the Broadway and invited him to Dartington Hall (England) in order to set up an Acting School there. With the outbreak of the Second World War the School settled down in Ridgefield (Connecticut - USA). The tour theatre „ Chekhov-Players” was founded, which performed with great success throughout USA. The team split apart as some of the members where ordered to the front. Chekhov spent the end of his lifetime in Hollywood. He worked in various film productions as an actor and picked up students again, some of them well-known, like Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brunner, Anthony Quinn and others. During this period he also resumed his work „To the Actor”, which first went into oblivion for many years after his death in 1955.

(Source: Michael Tschechow Studio Berlin)