The Chekhov Training

The Chekhov Training is a one-year masters-level acting training in Chekhov method. Classes meets twice a week for 36 training weeks, beginning late September. 

 

You'll learn to approach acting from the perspective of an artist. You'll develop an actor's "practice" that will serve you for life. You'll master techniques that open the doors to creative inspiration and remarkable performance. 

 

“This is what our nature desires: to be constantly acting. And we cannot do otherwise. Because if we are actors, then... WE ARE ACTORS.”    – Michael Chekhov

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Overview

The Chekhov Training is a comprehensive master course in acting. It runs from late September into early the following August, with pauses in December/January, March and late May/June. 

 

A series of nine, four-week Sessions comprises the whole program. Each Session meets twice weekly. Successive Sessions introduce a new primary theme, while at the same time advancing the preceeding work. 

 

The sequence of Sessions, like the Chekhov method itself, is organic in nature; although it has many constituents, from a certain point of view all parts are one. The training develops in a way such that the actor achieves ever-greater levels of psycho-physical awareness and sensitivity while, at the same time, deepening his practical knowledge of acting craft. 

 

The course is grounded in a system of physical and imaginative exercises based on lawful principles of the creative process. Our disciplined approach emphasizes mastery of Michael Chekhov’s core techniques. 

 

Training is conducted in an ensemble-oriented environment. Actors are strongly encouraged, as well, to maintain an independent (at home) daily practice based on their practical experience with exercises, techniques and creative principles. Repetition is the key to growth.

Chekhov Method

Michael Chekhov was regarded as the most uniquely gifted actor of his generation. On stage and on screen, Chekhov was acclaimed for his brilliant and original characterizations, improvisational inventiveness, and commanding presence. Notwithstanding his achievements as actor and director, Chekhov's greatest legacy is his method – an objective (universal-lawful) approach to the art of acting based on a lifetime's experience and research with the creative process.

 

Central to his method is an image of the Ideal Actor. Chekhov is ever-conscious of the two-fold organization of the actor’s instrument. As an embodied being, the actor is corporeal: he has a physcial body. As a self-conscious being with thoughts, feelings, and will impulses, she has an active inner life, a psyche or soul, capable of experiencing an inner-, as well as an outer-, world. In Chekhov’s vocabulary, the term “psycho-physical” is shorthand to indicate the actor’s whole instrument, which by its essential parts is both physical and psychological-spiritual. Understandably then, the first goal of the method is for the two component parts of the actor’s whole to develop together in the direction of their highest potential.

 

Practical, elegant and artistic, the Chekhov method is founded on creative principles, techniques, and exercises that respect and unleash the actor’s highest nature. With its recognition of the true nature of the actor-human being, it is easily distinguished from other methods of acting. The approach is necessarily both physical and psychological, thereby developing of the actor’s whole instrument while at the same time facilitating the actor's acquisition of a comprehensive professional craft.

 

Chekhov training awakens and elaborates the actor’s artistic imagination, strengthens the capacity for intense inner action, and loosens habitual restrictions to expressive emotion. Professional application of the method satisfies the actor’s longing for transformation. 

 

“Chekhovian” acting is evident in the totality of dramatic qualities that include exceptional originality, boldness, daring, physical and emotional expressivity, radiant presence, and truthful characterization. The Chekhovian actor is a pioneer of sorts, a harbinger of the Theatre of the Future.

 

The principles and techniques of his method are outlined in Chekhov’s book, To The Actor, about which theatre anthropologist and director Eugenio Barba wrote: “One of the best practical manuals for the training of the “realistic” actor. It should be read and re-read, reflected upon, pried into.” 

The Sessions

The first Session of The Chekhov Training prepares and establishes the ground for subsequent Sessions. The Sesssions that follow comprise, together with the first, the whole program. 

  • Session 1: The Actor's Instrument
  • Session 2: The Creative Individuality
  • Session 3: The Imagination
  • Session 4: The Objective
  • Session 5: The Psychological Gesture
  • Session 6: The Archetype
  • Session 7: Characterization
  • Session 8: Composition and Style
  • Session 9: Rehearsal and Performance 

The actor’s feeling for scenic truth, expressive emotion, actor’s faith, ensemble, rhythm and continuous improvisation are some of the other fundamentals trained continuously throughout the course year.

Goals

The Chekhov Training aims:

  • To advance the balanced development of the actor’s whole psycho-physical instrument for the unique creative demands of our profession
  • To provide the actor creative tools and practical knowledge to support the ambition to grow as an actor and succeed as a professional
  • For the actor to acquire a reliable approach to creative inspiration in performance on stage and on camera
  • To nourish and encourage the actor’s unique creative individuality
  • To unleash the actor’s latent creative and expressive capacities, the talent

Dedicated actors can be confident of progressing in the direction of these aims over the course of the year’s training. With the commitment to consistent practice of our techniques, actors can be confident of strengthening their acting skills, cultivating their creative natures, and furthering their professional prospects and accomplishments. 

 

The Chekhov Training represents a healthy and dependable approach to freeing the actor’s talent and highest potential. Upon completion of The Chekhov Training, actors can further pursue the path of mastery with advanced Chekhov training and further application of the method in rehearsal and performance.

How to Apply

Actors are expected to begin The Chekhov Training at the fall term start. Because the nature of the program is organic (the whole is present in each of the individual parts) it is sometimes possible to join mid-year, provided the actor has previous experience with our method or a natural facility for psycho-physical training.

 

Actors may apply to The Chekhov Training following an interview with the studio director. 

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The Meisner Foundation Training

The Meisner Foundation Training is a systematic, one-year training in Meisner technique. Classes meets twice a week for 36 training weeks, beginning late September.

 

You'll acquire the foundation of a dependable craft based in authentic human action. You'll learn to use yourself as an instrument for creative acting. You'll develop a keen sense of truth, emotional vulnerability, and the instinct to produce spontaneous, compelling behavior necessary to success at the highest professional levels.

 

"The foundation of acting is the reality of doing." – Sanford Meisner

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Overview

The Meisner Foundation Training is a rigorous, step by step course that trains the actor to create convincing and compelling life in performance. Because truthful and expressive behavior is the foundation for remarkable acting in all media, the Meisner Foundation Training is invaluable to actors at all levels of experience, from beginners to experienced professionals.

 

The program runs from late September into early the following August, with pauses in December/January, March and late May/June.

 

A series of nine, four-week sessions comprises the whole program. Each session meets twice weekly. The training is sequential and always moving forward. Missed classes cannot be made up. It is not possible to join the course mid-year.

 

The course is precisely modeled after the highly-regarded two-year program devised and taught by Sanford Meisner for over fifty years. As such, the Meisner technique is a proven approach that works. Over the course of the year, actors work with partners on improvisational exercises of growing complexity. The training gradually leads to unscripted “scene-like” improvisations that incorporate sophisticated crafting of circumstances, emotional preparation and relationships. Work with text is undertaken just two or three times during the year, and then for the primary purpose of exercising the actor’s developing instincts and abilities. 

 

The program is decidedly intensive. Actors can expect to be consistently challenged both in and outside of the classroom. At-home preparation requires several or more hours a week. 

 

The Meisner Foundation Training prepares the actor to work professionally with a keen sense of truth and the instinct for genuine contact, committed action, and spontaneous expressive behavior.

Meisner Technique

The Meisner technique is a progressive system of structured improvisations for developing concentration and imagination, freeing instincts and impulses, and achieving “the reality of doing” in performance. 

 

“My approach,” Sandy Meisner said, “is based on bringing the actor back to his emotional impulses and to acting that is firmly rooted in the instinctive. It is based on the fact that all good acting comes from the heart, as it were, and that there’s no mentality to it.”  

 

In Meisner’s view, great acting depends on the actor’s impulsive response to what’s happening around him. His key exercise, spontaneous repetition, is designed for the actor to develop the capacity to respond impulsively to every stimulus.  

 

Meisner’s approach trains the actor to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances,” to discover or create personally meaningful points of view with respect to the (written or improvised) word, and to express spontaneous human reactions and authentic emotion with the utmost sense of truth. 

 

Robert Duvall said of his teacher: “I owe everything I am, everything I’ve achieved as an actor to Sanford Meisner.... He made me aware that acting is... not speaking a text but creating behavior so that the emotional life underneath brings the text to life.”  

 

Meisner technique is elaborated in the books, Sanford Meisner on Acting, by Mr. Meisner, and The Actor’s Art and Craft, by William Esper.

The Sessions

The first session sets the stage as the backbone for the whole program. Mastery of the principles given with the first session can take the whole year, and likely much longer. The actor’s dedication to the first session directly correlates to later success.

  • Session 1: Contact, Point of View, Working-Off
  • Session 2: The Independent Activity 
  • Session 3: Raising the Stakes 
  • Session 4: Working with Text I
  • Session 5: Emotional Preparation and Expanded Emotions
  • Session 6: Relationships
  • Session 7: Domestic Partnerships
  • Session 8: Working with Text II 
  • Session 9: Working with Text III

Goals

The Meisner Foundation Training aims: 

  • “To eliminate all intellectuality from the actor's instrument and to make him a spontaneous responder to where he is, what is happening to him, what is being done to him" (Sandy Meisner)
  • To provide the actor with practical tools and knowledge necessary to support his or her ambition to grow as an actor-artist and to succeed as a professional
  • For the actor to acquire a reliable approach to performing truthful human behavior on stage, on camera and on mic
  • To nourish and encourage the actor’s unique creative individuality
  • To unleash the actor’s latent creative and expressive capacities, the talent

Dedicated actors can be confident of progressing in the direction of these aims over the course of the year’s training. With the commitment to consistent practice of our techniques, they can be confident of strengthening their acting skills, cultivating their creative natures, and furthering their professional prospects and accomplishments.

 

Upon completion of The Meisner Foundation Training, actors have the opportunity to further develop their instrument and craft in The Advanced Training.

 

Graduates of The Meisner Foundation Training are also well-prepared for The Chekhov Training. Whereas Meisner represents a purely psychological approach to acting, Chekhov is concerned with the actors whole psycho-physical development and expression. The Chekhov Training furthers the Meisner actor’s knowledge of craft with creative techniques that open doors to the world of objective imagination, artistic feelings and emotions, and vivid characterization.

How to Apply

Actors are admitted to the program only at the Fall term start. (Only exceptionally would experienced Meisner actors be considered for mid-year admission; alternatively, experienced Meisner actors may apply to The Advanced Training program.)

 

Actors may apply to The Meisner Foundation Training following an interview with the studio director. 

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The Advanced Training/Meisner II

The Advanced Training takes up where The Meisner Foundation Training (MFT) finishes. Classes meets twice a week for 36 training weeks, beginning late September.

 

While the course is designed especially for MFT grads, other experienced actors are welcome to apply.

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The Advanced Training is focused on three primary themes:

  • The Actor's Instrument – Identifying and freeing actors' psycho-physical restrictions to physical, vocal and emotional expression
  • Character and characterization
  • The Role – Text analysis, the creative imagination, and rehearsing the scene

The program also trains the actor in on-camera technique and audition preparation.

Non-MFT graduates may be admitted to The Advanced Training following an interview and audition.

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The Accelerated Training

The Accelerated Training is the "fast-track" for exceptionally motivated actors to take, at once, any two of our core programs during the same season.

 

That means concurrent participation in The Meisner Foundation Training and The Chekhov Training or, alternatevly, The Advanced Training and The Chekhov Training.

 

To support their ambitious will, the program offers Accelerated Training actors a generous tuition allowance. 

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Four-times-a-week training demands an exceptional commitment. For which exceptionally accelerated development is the reward.

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The Performance Training

The Performance Training brings together as a whole our three core programs – The Meisner Foundtion Training, The Chekhov Training and The Advanced Training – with the opportunity for a dedicated third or fourth year of specialized training in the context of rehearsal and performance.

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The Performance Training is open to MCASB actors who have completed The Meisner Foundation Training, The Chekhov Training and The Advanced Training. This final year of specialized training is given to methods of rehearsal and performance.

 

Selected actors are selected for the program by invitation only.

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The Summer Intensives

The Summer Intensives are for experienced actors, professionally-oriented beginners, and collegiate actors and teachers to leverage the summer months in favor of becoming more skillful, more imaginative, more truthful, more expressive, more confident actors. 

 

Classes meets twice a week for 6 training weeks in June through July.

 

You'll learn new and valuable techniques, hone your craft, advance your professional development, and connect with the passionate community of actors and artists that call Michael Chekhov Actors Studio their creative home.

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Successful actors know that you’re as strong as your fundamentals. Like successful athletes, they often return to "summer camp" in the off-season to master the principles of their profession and to drill and improve their basic skills. They're aligned with Antonin Artaud, who called the actor an "athlete of the heart." 

 

They agree, too, with Michael Chekhov. He wrote, "It goes without saying that neither musicians, architects, painters, poets nor any other craftsmen can have their own techniques without first studying the basic laws of their respective arts. Inescapable are the rules upon which they ultimately must build those 'own' techniques that are to make them individual if not outstanding in their professions." 

 

Our Summer Intensives are "summer camp" for the benefit of experienced actors, collegiate actors and teachers. They're also intended for professionally-oriented beginners ready for the experience of challenging actor training at the professional level.

 

The Summer Meisner Intensive is an exacting and applicable introduction to Meisner’s foundation-building system of actor training. For beginning actors, it’s the ideal first step to professional acting; for experienced actors, it’s rigorous back-to-basics conditioning. 

 

At this Intensive, you’ll learn and train the two core planks of Meisner technique, the “repetition exercise” and crafting “independent activities.” Meisner training develops and strengthens the actor’s fundamental skills: truthful behavior, emotional elasticity, purposeful action, and creative fantasy. 

 

THE MEISNER TECHNIQUE is a powerful and systematic approach to truthful acting. For film and television acting in particular, behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances is the bottom line. Actors who can do that, get noticed. They get remembered. And they get work.

 

The Summer Chekhov Intensive is a practical overview of Chekhov’s objective professional method based on the creative laws and principles of the actor’s art. 

 

At this Intensive, you’ll learn and train the “psychological gesture” and other psycho-physical techniques unique to Chekhov’s approach. Chekhov training is for talented actors who value creative and dependable tools to apply to their professional work. 

 

THE CHEKHOV METHOD frees the actor’s natural talent and opens the door to artistic inspiration. Chekhov training and practice develops the actor’s whole psycho-physical instrument - the means for creative expression. At the same time, the method is a practical toolkit indispensable to actors at all levels of experience.

 

CHEKHOV and MEISNER TECHNIQUES are complementary approaches to acting that  

  • Develop the actor’s instinct for truthful behavior 
  • Ground the actor in the physical body
  • Elaborate the actor’s creative imagination
  • Loosen habitual restrictions to expressive emotion
  • Free the actor’s inner drives and impulses for action

Accelerate your professional and artistic development. 

Show up and train hard this summer.

Act better this fall.

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