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