Michael Chekhov's Lessons for Teachers, Expanded Edition
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Michael Chekhov’s Lessons for Teachers, Expanded Edition is a beautiful prism through which we can examine the practice of Chekhov’s technique. As well as including concentration exercises, these lessons often touch on the spiritual aspects of his work. For any teacher or director it will bear returning to again and again. New aspects of the technique will reveal themselves and prove valuable each time.
This edition consists of 27 Lessons given by Michael Chekhov between 1936-1939. Transcribed from the original shorthand notes by Deirdre Hurst du Prey, it is edited and introduced by Jessica Cerullo with German Translation by Ragnar Freidank and Mani Wintsch and Russian Translation by Maxim Krivosheyev.
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Listen to Ragnar Freidank interview editor Jessica Cerullo on the podcast Everything Is But the Door to the Feelings here.
6x9, 245 pages
As I read these lessons, I rushed to put pencil to paper to capture Chekhov’s essential ideas. I was moved to tears by the loneliness and candor of this man; the meaning of his words often escaped me, causing me to read them again and again! The process seemed like studying the miraculous fragments of navigation charts, unearthed long after a great discovery had been made.
Way deeper than a book of exercises, these lessons actually address what it means to be a teacher. Chekhov tells you how to prepare your body and spirit to step into the studio, with clear, inspiring advice in each lesson. Michael Chekhov believed it was a high calling, to teach with one’s whole being. Now his clear, grounded, articulate ideas are with us due to the dedication of his disciples in the 1930s and in the 21st century. We owe them much for this incredible resource.
Peek inside the book:
Chekhov’s words point to a sphere that all actors should conquer in order to create the kind of performance that truly inspires an audience. I was familiar with the original edition of Lessons for Teachers, and it is wonderful to read them again in this superb multilingual publication. Especially wonderful is the newly included lesson “We Have to Be Full of Music,” in which he describes a society transformed into a culture of humanity through art. The entire edition is a great enrichment for all trainers who work according to Chekhov’s method.
What I find most exciting in this short book is the ability to enter the technique from different directions and glimpse the beauty of its holistic nature. Each exercise contains practical learning but is also connected to “the whole” of his technique. This is deep work which aspires to the high dream of “the unifying being,” the greater spirit behind what theatre can be. A Tao Te Ching for the teacher of Chekhov’s Future Theatre.
Michael Chekhov’s Lessons for Teachers allows us a glimpse of that great acting teacher’s deep dedication to his students. While the techniques Chekhov taught expanded those he had learned from Stanislavsky, his manner of teaching them was utterly different. Speaking of Stanislavsky, Chekhov says, “His attitude was, ‘I know everything and you know nothing,’ and this quality killed much in our souls, and, therefore, almost all of us hated the Method.” Chekhov’s own view of how to teach was quite different. “As a teacher,” Chekhov says, “you must feel and discover when you can dictate to your pupils how a thing must be done or felt, and when you must suggest that perhaps they will feel this or that effect or result.” This small volume, printed here in English, German, and Russian, is sometimes vague or mysterious, but it is suffused with what Chekhov would call an “atmosphere”— an atmosphere of love, for the theatre, for his students, and for the art of teaching