21 Actor/Artists came to our Michael Chekhov Workshop on Monday at the Tipping Point Theatre. What was amazing to me was how receptive they were to the Technique and how focused they were on making the technique work for them.
We opened the workshop talking about who Michael Chekhov was and the five guiding principles behind the technique. Those principles are:
The Technique is Psycho-Physical. This means that it is a holistic Body-Mind approach to the technique which recognizes neither an outside-in approach or an inside-out approach to the craft.
The Technique recognizes Intangible Means of Expression such as Atmosphere and Imaginary Body as an access point to inspiration and feelings in acting.
The Technique recognizes the Objective World of Imagination. This means that there are certain universal concepts in our collective subconscious (archetypes of movement, character, and quality) that we can draw on for use in character creation and in creating truthful moments on stage.
All tools in the Technique are part of a Collective Whole. This means that any individual part of the technique incorporates all other parts of the technique automatically.
It is up to the artist’s Creative Individuality to choose which parts of the technique resonates with them. That artist need not master all parts of the technique to achieve the goal of Inspired Acting, but can master individual elements of the technique to great success.
After opening with lowering The Ring, we then began a warm-up Ball Toss exercise called The Perfect Throw where the students were introduced to three of Michael Chekhov’s Laws of Composition (Triplicity, Polarity, and Transformation), The Four Brothers in Art (Beauty, Ease, Entirety/Wholeness, and Form), and The Artistic Frame (Preparation. Action, Sustain, Stop).
We then worked on Expansion/Contraction, the prototypical Chekhovian gesture. As a teacher, this was amazing to watch. The students immediately resonated with the gestures and found that the gestures keyed into their psychologies very easily. Having worked with this technique for many years, I must say that I wasn’t surprised, but I was pleased at how far they were willing to go with it almost immediately. It was wonderful.
Finally we worked on the Five Focal Points. This is a bit more of a cerebral exercise and we moved faster with this than I usually like, but the participants still found many uses for this exercise. I love it because it is instantly useful in cold-reads and auditioning. It requires very little thought on the actor’s part and moves one instantly to action. It’s a very powerful tool.
I want to extend a very special thanks to Artistic Director, James Kuhl at The Tipping Point Theatre for opening the space to us. Also thanks to and Tipping Point Intern, Michelle Cowles who worked very hard for us during the workshop itself. It is more proof that the Michigan Theatre Community is very special indeed.
Now, our focus and concentration is on our class beginning September 4. If this workshop was any indication, it should be a very special experience indeed.