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Michael Chekhov
(1891 - 1955)

 

Max Reinhardt once characterised the being of this exceptional artist as "a star in the immediate vicinity of the heart".

Michael Chekhov, nephew of the famous writer Anton Chekhov, was always on the search for his theater, the "theater of the future", as he named it.

At the age of 21 Chekhov entered the Moscow Artists Theater Ensemble McHAT). Konstantin Stanilavski recognised in those days that behind the melancholia in Chekhov's look the spirit of a genius was resting. Very soon Chekhov advanced to one of the most significant artists of the McHAT.

Stanislavski once said: "If you want to understand my method, then take a look at Michael Chekhov". Nevertheless the language of Stanislavski and that of Chekhov originate from two different worlds. Chekhov's idea of a modern theater often contradicted that of the old master Stanislavski. After Wachtangov's death Chekhov took over the direction of Moscow's second artists theater. He gathered here new experiences and developped the basis of his method. A willful and bold interpretation of Hamlet aroused the opposition of many collegues and shortly afterwards of the stalinist rulorship. Chekhov had to leave Russia and went to Berlin. A restless time followed. Chekhov worked in the baltic area, in Paris, Vienna and Berlin. Beside his artistic work he deepened during this time his study of anthroposophy, which became more and more the basis of his work.

During a USA-tour he was "discovered" by Beatrice Straight in a Broadway performance and she invited him to Darlington-Hall (England) to found a new theater school.

At the outbreak of the second world war the school moved to Ridgefield (Connecticut, USA). "The Chekhov Players", a tournee-theater, was founded and it performed very successfully in the united states. However the group fell apart as some of the players were orderd to the front. Chekhov spent the last years of his life in Hollywood. He worked as actor in many film productions and taught many students, among which famous actors such as Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brenner, Anthony Quinn to name just a few. During this time he wrote down his methodical work "To the actor", which was then forgotten for many years after his death in 1955.

 

 

 
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