In our fast-moving film, television, and theater industry, we actors are continually asked for “quick results.” We must be emotionally available, learn our lines rapidly, and fill our characters with the objectives and desires of a multilayered human being—all without much preparation time. Now more than ever, the deciding factor in a successful audition or performance is the actor’s ability to call upon focused inspiration at a moment’s notice. After all, inspiration leads to real, organic, surprising, fresh performances. How is such focused inspiration readily achieved? It was Michael Chekhov’s lifelong endeavor to answer this question.
Chekhov was a world-renowned early-20th-century Russian actor, nephew to the famed playwright Anton. He was a true chameleon, mesmerizing audiences by making consistently bold choices and disappearing into fully fleshed-out, unique characters. Chekhov was openly praised by Konstantin Stanislavsky as his most brilliant student and was highly respected by Group Theatre luminaries such as Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Lee Strasberg, and Harold Clurman. He developed his ideas on acting in such influential books as “To the Actor” and became the acting coach of many Hollywood stars of his day. The technique he eventually developed has been praised by Jack Nicholson, Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Depp, and Clint Eastwood, to name a few.