Lisa Dalton*

 

Michael Chekhov’s approach evolved over a lifetime on three continents through extraordinary socio-political-technological change. His writings, recorded lectures and the notes taken of his live teaching are very extensive. Like the famous story of the group of blind men touching an elephant and arguing over what it is, if you sample random Chekhov technique workshops and books you may never know what the larger whole truly is. This is where The Chart of Inspired Acting saves the day, as it is able to unite single elements of his method into a solid and fluid technique. The chart was published in the book On The Technique of Acting in 1991. This chart is an indispensable tool for artists, a reminder of all the resources Michael Chekhov offers, serving as a treasure map for anyone wanting to be “happy on the stage” (Chekhov 2004). Shortly before Chekhov died, he drew the chart by hand for Mala Powers.[1] What follows is an introduction of how National Michael Chekhov Association (NMCA) teaches the chart: a carefully crafted pedagogical sequence that also includes Five Guiding Principles found in his final lectures.

Understanding the Chart as a Pathway into the Zone

The Chart is Sun-like in its image. If we want our sun to shine, or in contemporary terms, if we want to get into “the zone,” all we need to do is to focus on a single point on this chart. Your focus creates a chain reaction by igniting the light in that box which sends sparks into the center. This ignites all other points instantly and effortlessly. Chekhov offers us a holographic technique where the whole is in each part. Each box on the periphery describes a tool, a concept or a universal law representing one or more elements of inspired “happy” states. The NMCA’s motto of bringing the spirit of Michael Chekhov into the twenty-first century has led to transforming the original black and white chart into a multi-colored one.[2]

Chart of Inspired Action, as used by National Michael Chekhov Association Intensive Training Workshops. Numbers in white correspond with numbers in text below. Copyright: NMCA 2013[3]

In his actor training, Chekhov looked at what energy patterns are present in their peak performances, identified these patterns and created exercises to activate them at will. Thus, we create the favorable conditions to coax inspired images by replicating the energy patterns of inspiration. To develop the rich psychophysical sensitivity required, the actor awakens the energy by exaggerated use of the body with strong concentration on the image and gradually lessens the physical movement to achieve the style of the performance. These fundamental principles are used in the NMCA class structure and teaching. Specific recurring elements include:

  • Warmups, including the Ball Toss and Yoga, both practiced by Chekhov himself.
  • Ensemble (#14), Truth (#16), Improvisation (#13)
  • Compositional Laws of Triplicity, Polarity, Transformation (# 9)
  • Preparation, Action, Sustain, Stop (PASS) the Energy
  • Full Voice, Energy and Body Integration
  • Openhearted Contact and Self-Reflection
  • Flying Back–Reflexive Self Evaluation

The teaching uses Chekhov’s Law of Triplicity. The introduction and exploration of each element is rhythmically followed by improvisation to deepen the skill with the tool and then scene/monologue study to explore and develop application skills.

NMCA Pathway around the Circle

One of Chekhov’s bold ideas is that the images of the story, the characters, situations, etc. already exist, independently in the collective unconscious. So, conveying these images to audiences becomes the actor’s greatest task. When an image arises, but does not come out right, it means there is a disconnection between your imagination and the body’s ability to express it. Solving this image-body gap is where the NMCA begins the journey.

The Mind-Body-Spirit Reunion

The PsychoPhysical Exercises, (PPEs) (#1), are addressed in Chekhov’s First Guiding Principle (2004). The PPEs are Expanding/Contracting, Qualities of Movement and Archetypal Gestures. These three sets of tools represent all of the basic energy patterns Chekhov identified. They are as essential to human expression as the scales are to music. Doing these exercises restores the artist’s ability to move/speak in any way that a character might. If an actor learns the whole range of PPEs, he/she can express any image that arises. If we accept that energy is always in motion, we see the PPEs as the most primal ways in which energy moves. They can answer questions about that motion:

  • What is the most basic pattern of motion? Expanding or Contracting (#1a). All energy is doing one or the other. Many other terms can be used for this energy pattern, including opening/closing or growing/shrinking. Each variation of the term alters the image, creating an infinite variety of uses and meanings of this most basic energy pattern. As a practical tool, every character’s degree of expanding or contracting can be identified by using a simple scale where ten is fully expanding and zero is fully contracting. Thus, the character’s arc can be scored through the course of the story. Scrooge may start contracted at a three, expanding to an eight when a Ghost appears and contracting back to a five when he sees his past.
  • How does this energy expand or contract? What is the Quality of the Movement? (#1b) It moves like the elements of earth, water, air and light, representing the degrees of resistance the energy meets. Here, the “how” is identified as Molding, Flowing/Floating, Flying or Radiating. Every character could be seen as dominated by one of these four. Scrooge may fly into an expansion and mold into a contraction, and each Ghost may move with a different quality to help distinguish them from each other. One can apply the “How” to one’s thoughts, physical movements, will impulses, etc. so that Scrooge is physically molding at his own gravesite while his thoughts are flying wildly inside.
  • Why does the energy expand or contract in such a way? This is expressed as Archetypal Gestures (AGs) (#1c). We define “gesture” as a movement plus an intention. Thus, the AG is a big move we do with a specific intention, such as: to push, to pull, to lift, to smash, to gather or to throw. These are acts of pure will, free of any thinking, (no rationale, no consequences) or feeling (no emotional attachment).

Our aim in doing an Archetypal Gesture is to activate an urge in the actor’s body. This will provide three important outcomes:

  • Archetypal Gesture gets the objective off the page and into the body of the actor.
  • Archetypal Gesture clears the inhibitions that prevent an actor from using the archetypal gesture effectively.
  • Archetypal Gesture prepares the actor to create an original Psychological Gesture for a specific character.

Here is a video showing actors practicing a variety of Archetypal Gestures. They are done imagining how an energy body is moving the intention beyond the physical form into the space. Archetypal Gestures are done fully and then “veiled” where the physical body reveals less, while the energy body remains actively radiating the image of the gesture through the space. This makes the technique useful both for broad and subtle styles.

Video 1

Excerpts from “Introduction to Michael Chekhov” with Wil Kilroy, Archetypal Gestures Unveiled and Veiled. Copyright: Lisa Dalton 2017. Recorded at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region 6 Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX. Wil Kilroy (National Michael Chekhov Association Vice-President, Co-Founder and Master Teacher, New Mexico State University Theatre Department Chair) gives KCACTF Festival participants a tasty morsel of archetypal gestures to stir the will and empower their work with veiling.

The PPEs teach the actor to engage the natural energy patterns we may have never developed, helping us express any possible way of moving.

Case Study:

Michael was a very gentle, soft-spoken actor frustrated with his failure to book his auditions. He was a six-foot five, very dark-skinned African-American body builder, constantly auditioning for physically dominating and aggressive characters like bodyguards, cops and bullies. But he had avoided expressing aggression in his life for so long that he was afraid he might lose control of it when acting. His own energy body was small and gentle. After practicing the Smash Gesture, Michael learned how to instantly turn on his aggression while acting and turn it off when done. Within one year he was fully supporting his family as an actor.

With mastery of the PPEs, Michael’s problem of being unable to convey the image of aggression was solved. Learning to do these three foundational tools will restore to the artist all possible ways for characters to move. These tools release the psychophysical blocks of the everyday personality of the artist. Comparing these to the scales that musicians practice throughout their careers, actors who practice the PPEs regularly are ready to perform any role.

The Feeling Life

Next step in the NMCA pedagogy is cultivating the emotional life. “Not feeling the moment” is one of the greatest lifelong fears that actors have. Michael Chekhov offers several ways to resolve this fear and awaken artistic feelings. He relies on imagination and movement, instead of painful memory recall, substitution of personal relationships and transference of personal conditions. The main tools to awaken artistic feelings are the Three Sister Sensations, Qualities and Sensations, and Atmospheres.

The Three Sister Sensations of Equilibrium (#2) examine gravity as the law of physics that most affects us. The tool can be applied three ways: to great emotional effect, as an element of characterization or to segue between gestures. Chekhov was working on this element when he died, in 1955. Jack Colvin, a protégé of his, taught them to me, in 1994, and we introduced them to the International Michael Chekhov Workshop, in the UK, using the “Audition” scene from Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor. Olga is Falling (yielding to gravity), Masha is Balancing (teetering, struggling against gravity) and Irina is Floating (weightlessly free of gravity). Falling is the energy of yielding to gravity without the fight to maintain balance. Balancing is the high-tension energy of excitement and fear that fights the fall and struggles for balance. Using the “ing” verb form helps keep this tool in the active state of teetering. We want to not fall. We are, therefore, struggling to achieve balance. (When balance is achieved the story ends.) The video clip shows actors playing with the different relationships to gravity, in large abstract movements and more subtle ones.

Video 2

Michael Chekhov Workout Video Three Sisters Excerpts. Copyright: Lisa Dalton 2005. Recorded at Ferris Studios, Valley Village, CA. Lisa Dalton, Leader. Beth Perksy, Artist #1. Monty Donald, Artist #2. Michelle Cuneo, Artist #3. Matthew Franklin, Artist #4. Lisa Dalton leads participants through the Michael Chekhov Workout, reviewing and improvising with tools in the sequence of the Chart of Inspired Action. Participants have a range of experience from a month to several years of play. This segment focuses on the Three Sister Sensations as developed by Lisa Dalton under Chekhov Protégé Jack Colvin’s six-year mentorship.

Sensations and Qualities (#3) NMCA continues the development of the actor’s emotional life with Sensations and Qualities. Move with a quality of caution. Simply gazing at our hand and moving it cautiously, we soon experience a sense of danger and begin to breathe cautiously, speak cautiously. Very likely, we will soon feel fear. This very subtle means of activating emotional states includes our breath. When we walk with rage, breathe the breath of rage and move our foot with a quality of rage, we will most likely feel rage. Chekhov’s qualities and sensations free the actor from the fear of not feeling the emotion, and remove the need for psychologically disturbing recall and substitution approaches. Even if we do not actually feel rage, we certainly look and sound like we do; so the audience will feel for us. And this is our actual artistic task. We must awaken the audience’s feelings, while our own need to feel the moment is unnecessary. Bambi is not actually feeling anything when his mom dies. Bambi is a cartoon. It is the audience who must feel the sadness.

Atmosphere (#4) is the energy in a space that results from the combination of the elements of that place plus the events happening in the space.

Place + Event = Atmosphere

Actors create atmosphere through imagination and, then, respond to these atmospheres accordingly. Atmospheres permeate the audience and unite them with the story. Atmospheres linger in the soul of the audience. Absence of atmosphere results in the story being quickly forgotten. If you think of a great event you attended years ago, you will likely recall two things about it. One will be a memorable moment that sparkles in your mind. You will not recall a whole lot of specific details, but one or two jewels will glitter in your memory. The other will be the overall “vibe” of the event that you can feel again the moment you think about it. That is the atmosphere. Clint Eastwood, a Chekhov student, is the director who most uses atmospheres in each of his films. They have very powerful “vibes” that linger long after the movie has been seen.

Personal Atmospheres is the name for another type of atmosphere, the human aura. Imagine that each character carries an air of or essence of something in their personal kinesphere. Each character in a TV series has a particular personal atmosphere different from the others that serves as a source of conflict and attraction, even when they share the same overall atmosphere, such as a tense newsroom.

Chekhov also gives us a means to access the higher world of feelings present in all peak performances: The Four Brothers of Art: Ease, Beauty, Form and Entirety (#5).

These four concepts unite the artistic nature with practical applications for surviving the challenges of life. Full embrace of these perceptions, as a Zen-like practice, keeps the artist stable and healthy through all crises. The Four Brothers can be the frame in which the picture of your life unfolds.

Case Study:

Anet was cast in a cable show and expected to wear shear lingerie. Anet was very self-conscious of her stunning figure. She was playing a sensual character appearing on a TV monitor. It would shoot in Brussels in three days. She faced multiple challenges. She was hired for thirteen episodes, only three were written. The other ten scripts would be finished while she was there. In the few hours we had before she flew to Brussels, I taught her Chekhov’s “Making Friends With. . . .” technique for a Feeling of Ease. In this exercise, you literally say “Hi” to the floor, walls, wardrobe, props, etc. with the intent to establish a friendship. Thus, instead of being intimidated by the cold warehouse, perched atop the wobbly scaffold, pressured by seventy-five pairs of eyes, jet lag, surprise scripts, etc. she “made friends” with everyone and everything. She had a delightful time. Everyone pitched in to help her stay warm, hydrated and ready to deliver. She had a feeling of ease and beauty about the shoot and was hired for another season.

Characterization (#6) With the confidence of bringing objectives and emotions to life on stage, Characterization becomes the next focus. All artists carry a yearning to transform, and Characterization satisfies that. We begin exploring the Ideal Artistic Center to awaken the universal in the creative individuality of the artist. It is like releasing the old paint, allowing it to fall away, revealing a fresh canvas. Now, the artists are ready to learn the characterization tools of Moveable Centers, Imaginary Bodies, Thinking, Feeling, Willing, Radiating and Receiving.

A Moveable Center is an energy point from which the character leads. To find the most inspiring centers, we ask three questions:

  • Location (Where is it?)
  • Quality (What is it? What is the image?)
  • Movability (Does it contain movement? Is it fixed, shaking, shooting, wiggling?)

An Imaginary Body is your image of the character’s body. Chekhov suggests we can step into this image and allow it to play us. It can move our body for us. There is a multitude of inspirations and approaches including:

  • Meditative Communion with the Imaginary Body of the Character when the actor invites the character to appear in her mind’s eye;
  • Portraits observed by the actor and then adopted;
  • Wardrobe pieces that inspire the actor when they are put on;
  • Sounds, Objects, Abstract Images that the actor explores kinesthetically.
  • Art, etc.

Thinking, Feeling, and Willing (TFW) are presented as the Trinity of Psychology. They are taught as three psychological forces rather than Centers. How these forces manifest in the individual body parts is explored at the micro level, along with the attendant speech patterns, language choices, line of movement, degree of expressivity in the voice, color associations, costume, blocking adjustments and design elements. This set of tools was one of two that Chekhov focused on first when coaching Mala Powers. “Is your character predominantly a Thinking, Feeling or Willing Character, and how does she differ from you?” would often be one of the first two questions he asked her. Dorothy’s friends in the Wizard of Oz are a great example of the archetypal search for balance in these forces. The Tin Man is seeking a heart. The Scarecrow needs a brain and the Lion needs a courageous will. The actor playing the Scarecrow can ask: how do I think differently than the Scarecrow? In this video, actors are exploring with exaggerated movements the patterns that dominate the three forces of TFW.

Video 3

Copyright: Lisa Dalton 2017. Recorded at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region 6 Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX. NMCA Master Teachers Wil Kilroy and Lisa Dalton share mini-bites of ideas about the tendencies of the body and voice when predominated by different forces of the Trinity of Psychology: Thinking, Feeling and Willing.

Radiating and Receiving (#7) are the keys to charisma; they address the directional flow of energy. We must always be sending (radiating) or drawing in (receiving) energy. Without that we are “dead’ on the stage. NMCA stresses that all characters must be radiating or receiving because all energy is in motion so the energy must

  • either
    • Emanate from the characters as Radiators, so the characters’ default operating systems are putting themselves out into the world, with energy moving from the center to the periphery.
  • or
    • Be drawn into them as Receivers, bringing the world to themselves, with energy moving from the periphery to the center.

This overall concept of Radiation is an aspect of characterization and is distinct from Radiating as a Quality of Movement representing light (manifesting in a variety of ways like lightning, fire, sunlight, and laser beams). As such, the other question that Chekhov would ask was, “Is your character predominantly a radiator or a receiver and how does she differ from you?”  Clint Eastwood honed his radiating skills until he became a superstar. In Unforgiven and Bridges of Madison County, he is a receiver.

Composition (#8) Composition of the play and character come into focus with training in Tempo and Rhythms. NMCA trains artists to be comfortable moving and speaking with Staccato, Legato, Stillness, Lyricalness and Chaos for playing with rhythm. Each of these is explored along with differing speeds to develop skills with tempo.

Styles (#15) such as classical theatre, film, avant-garde are greatly supported by Chekhov and are introduced as needed for the material being addressed.

SynthAnalysis ™ (#9) is taught as an expansive approach to synthesizing Chekhov’s work and Stanislavsky analysis. It gets everyone up on their feet, identifying the nine-event dramatic structure that Chekhov outlines (2002: 102). It employs Harmonious Groupings, scores of Atmospheres to explore themes, ideas, character arcs and aims expressed as Psychological Gestures for the chosen production. As an aspect of Chekhov’s Theatre of the Future, NMCA asks each performer/director to create an image of what they want the audience to do differently tomorrow for having seen their show today (Dalton, Kilroy, Bowles 2000).

Focal Point (#10) Expanding on Stanislavsky’s Circles of Attention, we explore five distinct Focal Points where a character can look in a scene. Stanislavsky introduced the first three circles. George Shdanoff and Jack Colvin expanded on this idea using Chekhov’s interpretation. They added two more circles as demonstrated in the video below. These circles are:

  1. Looking at one’s own body;
  2. Looking at your partner;
  3. Looking at the immediate present environment;
  4. Looking into memory or imagination at some specific object not present; and
  5. Looking into the great beyond, the unknown, God, The Void.
Video 4

Michael Chekhov Workout Video Focal Points Excerpts. Copyright: Lisa Dalton 2005. Recorded at Ferris Studios, Valley Village, CA.
Lisa Dalton, Leader. Beth Perksy, Artist #1. Monty Donald, Artist #2. Michelle Cuneo, Artist #3. Matthew Franklin, Artist #4. Lisa Dalton leads participants through the Michael Chekhov Workout, reviewing and improvising with tools in the sequence of the Chart of Inspired Action. Participants have varying degrees of experience, from a basic knowledge to several years of play. This segment focuses on Five Focal Points as evolved from Stanislavsky’s Circles of Concentration via Michael Chekhov, George Shdanoff and Lisa Dalton.

Objective (#11) Chekhov’s distinct contribution to Objective has to do with how one discovers it. First, we activate an awareness of our Ideal Artistic Center and right from there (not from the intellect), we ask the character to reveal the problem that needs to be solved. “What for are you doing this?” was one of Chekhov’s questions. Then, we incorporate or imitate what the image reveals until we understand this “what for.” If an actor wants to write out his/her objectives, we suggest choosing “gesturable” verbs rather than just “active” verbs. Here is a template for stating one’s objective:

“I want to (active infinitive verb) despite (obstacle) so that (intended outcome).”

It can be filled in with:

“I want to get him to propose to me despite the fact that he doesn’t want to marry me so that I won’t die an old maid.”

The following video demonstrates how this can be translated into gestures by rephrasing this sentence, as

“I want to pull a proposal out of him despite him pushing me away so that I won’t shrivel into an old maid.”

Using gesturable verbs creates a fertile field for getting written objectives to live urgently in the body of an actor, using the method of Psychological and Archetypal Gestures.

Video 5

Copyright: Lisa Dalton 2017. Recorded at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region 6 Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX. Wil Kilroy (National Michael Chekhov Association Vice-President, Co-Founder and Master Teacher, New Mexico State University Theatre Department Chair) leads Lisa Dalton through translating a basic Stanislavsky-style objective into more actable word choices with “Gesturable Verbs.” Dalton uses the role of Rosemary from Picnic by William Inge to demonstrate. Chekhov encourages a witness (director, coach, teacher, cast mate) to observe the actor’s hand and body movements as they describe the character. These reveal the unconsciously veiled Psychological Gestures of the character already living in the actor. The witness, then, reflects back to the actor these observations that are, in turn, expanded, unveiled and explored for their “truth” and appropriateness to the story and style. Subsequently, they can be developed into an inspiring and repeatable form for multiple performances.

 

Wil Kilroy and Lisa Dalton frame the white board revealing notes used to develop the “Gesturable Verbs” in order integrate basic Stanislavsky objectives for beats and units as explored in the video. Copyright: Lisa Dalton 2017. Recorded at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region 6. Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX.

Psychological Gesture (#12) Psychological Gesture (PG) is the last tool taught by NMCA. It is a culmination and unification of all preceding tools. All PGs should contain a degree of Expanding/Contracting, some Quality of Movement, some Sensation and Atmosphere, the Three Sisters of Falling, Balancing and Floating, Imaginary Body or Center, predominance of Thinking, Feeling or Willing, and of Radiating or Receiving, with a certain Tempo and Rhythm. If one has mastered each of the ingredients separately, then whatever PG arises, one should be able to do it.

The Psychological Gesture is distinguished from the Archetypal Gesture by the inclusion of the complete trinity of psychology. The PG has the will force (W) which is awakened by the degree of effort the actor engages, plus the feeling force (F) activated by the quality with which the gesture is done and the thinking force (T) aligned by the form of the gesture:

PG=AG (W)+T+F

There are three ways to discover the gesture:  The Three I’s.

  • Inspiration—it appears instantly and effortlessly.
  • Imagination—it is revealed via meditative communion with the character.
  • Intellect—it develops as a Compositionary Sequence of gestures embodying the character’s objective. Three separate gestures are formed representing the main “action” gesture of the character, a gesture of the character’s worst nightmare and a gesture of the character’s greatest victory. These are explored in various sequences and, eventually, can be merged into one “Super PG” or used individually for specific moments in the story.
Video 6

Copyright: Lisa Dalton 2017. Recorded at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region 6 Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX. NMCA Master Teacher Lisa Dalton leads Wil Kilroy through the three basic gestures used in forming a Compositionary Gesture Sequence that can later be condensed into a single Psychological Gesture. This Intellect-based technique uses Leading Questions that provide a surefire path to the discovery of a Psychological Gesture. It is a great help if the ideal paths of Inspiration and Imagination fail to reveal the Psychological Gesture. Kilroy is using the role of Steve from Becky’s New Car by Steven Dietz to explore the process.

Improvisation (#13) While NMCA does improvisation with every tool, Chekhov sends us another message. Many actors know they want a quirk or a tick for the character. Chekhov calls these “jewels” because they make the performance sparkle. Most actors fall into the clichés of hair twirling, toothpicks and cigarettes. Chekhov suggests to look for the perfect jewelry of the character by improvising with the tools such as the PG. Suddenly, the PG inspires a quirk that is just perfect. The next step is to save it in your actor’s “jewelry box” and to put it on for every show, adding sparkle to your performance.

Chekhov also wanted Improvisation to remind us that using a tool as an activity (rather than remembering/repeating what the tool produced the first time you tried it) will keep your performance alive, regardless of how many performances you give. If you expand now, this particular expansion today will be “in the moment” and it will never be dull or repetitive. It will be a true improvisation each time.

Feeling of Entirety: Works-in-Progress

Bringing in an audience completes the necessary ingredient to act. This is why most NMCA trainings culminate in a works-in-progress presentation where scenes or monologues are frequently done twice, using two different sets of tools. Audiences are welcomed with the knowledge that the artists are experimenting boldly with new things as yet untried. The improvisational structure frees the artist and the audience from unrealistic expectations. Even if we have just one person to watch, the artists feel a strong sense of completion, having tested their feelings of ease and played their hearts out.

On Stage, Left to Right: Claudia Billings, Jeanie Cooper Sholer, Caroleen “Jett” Green, Alycia Bright-Holland, Cameron Lang, Craig Lee, Cameron Lang, Kathryn Tabone Doshi, Andres Hudson. Audience Left: Lisa Dalton. Photograph by James Holland. At New Mexico State University, July, 2015. Copyright 2015 James Holland for the National Michael Chekhov Association. All National Michael Chekhov Association Intensive Trainings love having an audience to witness a final culminating work-in-progress presentation. Audiences complete us and it is for them that we play. It only takes one witness and one performer for the titles of “audience” and “actor” to be true. Here, after sixty-eight hours of class in one week, NMCA Chekhov Training Intensive participants take the stage to receive the audience’s appreciation of a job well done.

The NMCA sequence for Chekhov’s training is a powerhouse of inspiration, an essential tool for anyone working with this technique. Each step leads to the next tool in a coherent and logical way. This sequence will allow the artist to access great images, select the best ones for the story and convey them fully to the audience. The circle is complete.

Tips for Professional and Academic Training Programs

The pace of teaching this sequence is flexible. Spread it over a two-year curriculum, a single academic semester or abbreviate it to a sixteen-hour immersion. In professional studios—for student retention, inconsistent enrollment cycles and fluctuating attendance, have all actors new to Chekhov complete an immersion. Expose them to all elements of the technique; then, feed them into on-going scene study, shifting focus every eight to twelve weeks:

  • Jan-February: The PPEs
  • March/April/May: The Feeling Life
  • June/July: Characterization

Works Cited

Chekhov, Michael. On the Technique of Acting. Ed. Mel Gordon, Preface and Afterword by Mala Powers. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. 1991.

—. On Theatre and the Art of Acting: The Five-Hour CD Master Class with the Acclaimed Actor-Director-Teacher, Lectures Recorded by Michael Chekhov in 1955. 4 CDs. New York: Working Arts. 2004.

—. To the Actor. London: Routledge. 2002.

Dalton, Lisa, Wil Kilroy, and Charles P. Bowles. Michael Chekhov Technique Playbook. Fort Worth: Peak Performance Publishing. 2000.

—, and Frederick Keeve. From Russia To Hollywood. Pathfinder Pictures. 2002.


[1] Mala Powers, Author, Actor, Director, was the Executrix of the Chekhov Estate, Co-founder of the National Michael Chekhov Association with Lisa Dalton and Wil Kilroy.

[2] For the purposes of this article, numbers have been inserted on the Chart to help identify the recommended training sequence presented here.

[3] The word “action” is correct in this title. NMCA has changed the word “acting” in the original to “action” because the entire chart is applicable to all actions-in everyday life and on stage. Our aim is to actively support Chekhov’s stated aim to help people become happier/healthier human beings (per George Shdanoff).


*Lisa Dalton, National Michael Chekhov Association President, co-founded with Chekhov executrix, Mala Powers, and Wil Kilroy in 1993. Dalton authored NMCA’s Michael Chekhov Playbook, Created/Co-Produced the Chekhov documentary: From Russia to Hollywood aired on PBS, is an Amazon Best Selling Author: Falling For The Stars: A Stunt Gal’s Tattle Tales and Murder Of Talent: How Pop Culture Is Killing ”IT.www.lisadalton.com, www.chekhov.net.

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The Art of Michael Chekhov’s Chart: A Training Sequence for Contemporary Practice in Professional Studios and Academia
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