Michael Chekhov: actor, director, pedagogue

Authored by: Marie-Christine Autant-Mathieu , Yana Meerzon

The Routledge Companion to Michael Chekhov

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415710183
eBook ISBN: 9781315716398
Adobe ISBN: 9781317506867


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In her book Schauspielkunst (1988), Georgette Boner defines Michael Chekhov’s acting technique of characterization as a complex process of simultaneous stretching and distancing of the actor’s “I.” Boner employs the image of a “two-faced Janus” (the Roman god with two faces, one turned to the past and the other to the future, one turned to the East and the other to the West) as a metaphor for Chekhov’s personality, artistic practice, and spiritual quest when projected onto the historical and cultural context (170–248). The essence of the two-faced Janus the god of entrances and exits, protector of roads and travelers, and guardian of fortunes in times of war – lies in his flexibility and vigilance. This metaphor aptly illustrates the dynamics of Chekhov’s world perception and suggests how the artist was in a state of constant motion. Inner and outer mobility were characteristic of Chekhov’s art, which was rooted in a complex unity of oppositions: for him an actor’s body and imagination were inseparable. The present volume develops this metaphor further, examining Michael Chekhov’s acting, directing, and pedagogical legacy in the multifaceted context of theatre history and today’s performance practices. It examines Chekhov’s creative practices in the context of historical and contemporary intercultural and multidisciplinary theatre and analyzes his pedagogical and philosophical thought in broader geographical and temporal contexts, tracing its sources not only to European and Western schools of theatre but also to Asian and Eastern cosmologies.

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