The Chekhov Collective UK: What we do

Praxis Symposium (2016) Michael Chekhov in the 21st Century: New Pathways
Image: Katerina Kotti

The Chekhov Collective UK is delighted to announce the launch of its new website www.chekhovcollectiveuk.co.uk, along with its programme of 2019-2020 events and workshops.

Whether you have been working with Michael Chekhov’s technique for years, or have only touched upon his work and are curious to experience more, we warmly invite you to explore our website, and join us for some of our events. Here is a little introduction to our work:

Chekhov and Voice Workshop with guest Daron Oram (2019)

Who we are:

Dr Cass Fleming established The Chekhov Collective UK in 2013 as part of the New Pathways project to foster collaborative exchange and practice research.  The Collective is co-directed by Dr Cass Fleming, Dr Roanna Mitchell and Gretchen Egolf and is made up of a group of UK-based artists and researchers from various disciplines — you can read more about us all here. We are, of course, also part of a whole constellation of Chekhov practitioners, in the UK and around the world. We have just begun to create an interactive map of this constellation, which you can see here.

Chekhov and Clown workshop led by guest Marjolein Baars from the Netherlands (2019)

What we do:

The Collective runs research projects and affordable workshops that explore both traditional and innovative applications of Chekhov technique in various contexts. 

Examples from our current programme include: Chekhov for Schools and Youth Theatre; Chekhov Technique in Dramatherapy; Chekhov, Comedy and Feminist Performance; Chekhov and the Sung Voice; and many more.

These events provide opportunities to train, to test ideas, to uncover and investigate new questions, and to become part of a creative exchange between practitioners and practice-based researchers across different arts disciplines and career stages. Our work seeks to destabilise the model of master-teacher and traditional rehearsal room hierarchies. Some events are run by emerging practitioners, others by practitioners with decades of experience (including guests from around the world) — all are driven by a curiosity to collaboratively explore their approaches in exchange with others.

We also run termly ‘Open House’ sessions covering some of the core principles of Chekhov’s technique, for those who are entirely new to the work or simply enjoy returning to these principles.  

You can explore the full range of our past activities, including major research projects, publications, workshops, panel discussions, presentations, symposia and Open Spaces, here.

The Little Prince, performance developed as part of the New Pathways Project’s ‘Devising and Catalyst Direction’ strand (2013-16)
Image: Katerina Kotti

Principles:

We are working to widen access to, and engagement and experimentation with, Chekhov Technique within arts practice and beyond, by supporting and facilitating a growing and diverse artistic community that recognizes the importance of:

  • Collaborative and relational practice
  • Open-hearted, open-minded, and playful exchange
  • Training and practice that is socially engaged
  • Diversity, difference and experimentation
  • Critical friendship
  • Mentoring and support
  • A dynamic and accessible relationship between practice, research and the professional sector
  • Sharing new practices, discourses, and experiments with the wider arts and cultural sector and practice taking place beyond the theatre 
  • The need to question, explore and develop existing structures of training and performance making in both playful and radical ways

Read our full mission statement here

Archive documents and notes for ‘Devising and Catalyst Direction’ at New Pathways symposium (2016)
Image: Katerina Kotti

Why Chekhov Technique?

Michael Chekhov (1891-1955) was an innovative and collaborative Russian actor, director, teacher and early devised theatre maker.  The Collective believes that his Technique has much to offer contemporary practitioners working with and beyond the theatre.  We are particularly interested in the following aspects of Chekhov’s methods and principles:

  • It is an imaginatively embodied technique that is participant-centred, empowering and playful.
  • It is a holistic and relational practice underpinned by ensemble theatre making and ethical group work.
  • It does not require actors, or participants, to mine their own personal memories and experiences for character work.  Instead it seeks and celebrates difference, diversity, transformation and originality. 
  • It is based on the belief that the actor/participant is a creative in their own right and should never be merely servant to writers, directors or designers in a making process, or teachers in a learning process, but empowered and equal. 
  • It can be used for a wide range of styles and modes of historic and contemporary theatre and screen and it blends well with other performance practices. 
  • It has great potential for application beyond the arts sector, with just one example being the use of the technique in social, applied and therapeutic contexts (this is the theme of our next major research project, with further announcements coming soon).

To contact us directly email thechekhovcollectiveuk@gmail.com

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About roannamitchell

Roanna Mitchell is a lecturer, performance-maker and movement person, and course leader of the MA Physical Acting at the University of Kent. Her work explores performance in the intersection between acting and dance. She has directed/created/movement-directed performance internationally, often working site-responsively and including collaborations with Richard Schechner (Imagining O, UK/US/India), Platform 7 (Resting Place, Ramsgate /Charing Cross Station / Folkestone seafront) and Accidental Collective (Here’s Hoping, Theatre Royal Margate / Oval House London). Roanna is co-director of The Chekhov Collective UK, and a member of Michael Chekhov UK and MC Europe.

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