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On the Technique of Acting Paperback – November 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (November 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062730371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062730374
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Michael Chekhov, nephew to the Russian playwright and student of Stanislavski, left Russia and his mentor behind to pursue a career as an actor, director, and teacher in Europe and America. While he was an early advocate of Stanislavski, Chekhov differed from the great teacher in important respects, particularly in his insistence on the use of imagination as opposed to memory in creating a role. (In a famous anecdote, Chekhov once performed a "sense memory" exercise in which he broke down over the tragic death of his aunt. When complimented on the truthfulness of his emotion, he admitted that his "aunt" was entirely imaginary.) One of Chekhov's innovations of technique is the "psychological gesture," in which a repeated external action leads to an internal revelation. Due to his insistence on the importance of the physical rather than the simply intellectual, Chekhov's book is as focused on following its series of exercises as it is in study; acting, he would remind us, is always fundamentally a verb. For actors who feel "hemmed in" by an overinsistence on "feeling" a part or in drawing from their own experiences to feed a role, Chekhov's focus on the primal and limitless nature of imagination is tremendously liberating. --John Longenbaugh

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "psyges" on December 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
It would be interesting to read this book alongside Mamet's "True and False." Chekov's passion for creation and exploration through the imagination, set against Mamet's scorn of invention on the part of the actor. Mamet dismisses the idea that character exists and that an actor can "become" the character. Chekov meditated in order to try and commune with the spirit of the character.
Two very different approaches.
In spite of the practical application of Chekov's ideas, there is a childlike hunger here for the imaginitive and mysterious that I feel is critical for any artist. We can appreciate that Chekov defied Stanislavski in search of something of his own, and here is perhaps the most interesting point: Chekov's method was deeply personal. He created his own approaches, and took bold risks in doing so. I most enjoyed the descriptions that his book has of how Chekov would create his own characters.
That any artist could throw themselves into their work with such interest and abandon is thrilling.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By J. Remington on October 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Again my mantra about acting books remains . . .
Reading an acting book must be taken inside the context of personal experience of either production or an acting class.
I value Checkov for the simple reason that, although he often comes across as nebulous and abstract, he stresses the fantastic and imaginative elements of acting.
Escewing working from the emotional inside out Checkov, a veteran of the Moscow Art Theatre, stresses finding the character through imaginative excercises that first engage the external elements of the actor's instrument namely in the creation of fantasy atmospheres and communion with the audience.
Building upon Jung's theories of the Universal Archetype, I find Checkov's bit about the psychological gesture and "living statues" most helpful in teaching, acting and directing.
In a professional world where gut wrenching, self absorbed displays of therepy induced emotion passes for true acting, I find Checkov's teachings most helpful in inspiring the true reasons many find themselves drawn to the stage: the wonder and excitement of telling an imaginative story.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Bonilla on September 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a must for all actors film or stage. It helps one to evaluate your method of acting and helps one to learn using easy step by step methods of each exercise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Dalton on November 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A must read and reread and DO! For all actors, teachers and directors. This 1991 published book contains the final additions to Michael Chekhov's amazing body-mind-spirit approach to actor/human development. Easier to understand and apply than To The Actor and it has The Chart For Inspired Acting that provides a concept the the whole approach. This was drawn for Mala Powers who was later, the executrix of his estate and a noted speaker/master teacher. She includes special tips on film techniques that he gave her in private coachimg.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sky Watersend on December 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I Hear great things about Checkov and His performance as an actor. And can tell you that this is all true after reading this book...His concerns on truth, concentration and attention are extremely necessary for an actor to read about and learn to distinguish between each one. His comments on criticism are spot on. And Much of this understanding I have come to myself through another approach, but anyone that attends to truth knows that we can all see it, it is no ones property. There is so much to discover in this book and it will give you the fundamentals that you need. As an actor do not disregard fundamentals as it may be the only thing you need to learn from anyone. I know it has been that way for me. To be a great actor you have to study on your own as well. Michael Chekhov has Just added so much value and appreciation to my work, and alone knowing that we relate is enough to spark my passion for the craft. I have read other books and most of them serve as methods, I however know that methods have their limits. Creativity does not, and a strong emphasis on truth and true creativity without involving the intellectual part of your brain in the moment of acting will allow you to create without the constraints of realism which sometimes is not how life ought to be. To create the right kind of character for each given situation. Right kind does not imply a sense of strictness. Anyway enjoy the book and have fun. Sincerely Sky Watersend
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