Michael Chekhov on The Theatre of the Future

Michael Chekhov

“The theatre is conceivable only as an organism that is whole and alive in all its aspects.  Such a theatre can and must arise in time.  It will be created by people who will be capable of serving rather than being servile, of working rather than earning a living, of loving the living organism of the theatre rather than a dead organization.  They will be people who understand that it is possible to create everywhere and always, and that a living creative organism cannot be shackled by the dead forms of rational technique.”


 “We are going to create a theatre that has a universal language.  This is the language of the human heart….  Everything [in our method] leads to the aim of opening this region of understanding where we all meet each other.”

“When I try to imagine what the theatre can be and will be in the future, it will be a purely spiritual business (I speak neither in the mystical or religious sense at the moment) in which the spirit of the human being will be rediscovered by artists.  The spirit will be concretely studied….  [I]t will be a concrete tool, or means, which we will manage just as easily as any other means.  The actor must know what it is, and how to take it and use it.  We [will] know how to manage it, and understand how concrete and objective it can be for us.  I believe in the spiritual theatre, in the sense of concrete investigation of the spirit of the human being.  But the investigation must be done not by scientists, but [rather] by artists and actors.”

“[F]or us, for actors, everything about our art is dead, everything surrounds us like huge cold lumps: scenery, costumes, make-up, wings, footlights, the auditorium – the whole lot of it!  But who has killed all this around us?  We ourselves!  We have killed off our surroundings and we die in them ourselves.  But we must now resurrect them.  This is the task of the future theatre.  We shall raise ourselves - and with ourselves also the theatre - to a genuine creativity only when, like surgeons, we feel responsible for the life of our play, the life of our theatre.”


 “We have lost the whole poetry around our art, and it has become a dry business.  The whole theatre has become so materialistic for us as actors:  our attitude towards ourselves, our bodies [and] voices, our approach to the new play  (whether it appeals to our nerves, and if it does not appeal it is of no value), and so on…. Everything is condensed to the present moment, and even more to the events of the present moment, and even more to certain events….  The future theatre cannot go along this way of condensing and making everything dry.  The theatre must go the opposite way, which is to enlarge everything:  the point of view, the means of expression, themes for plays, and - first of all - the kind of acting.”

– Michael Chekhov