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. 

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Michael Chekhov: New Pathways, Research Project Report

In 2013, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training published a special issue (4.2) on the work of Michael Chekhov, edited by Franc Chamberlain and Andrei Kirillov with Jonathan Pitches. It included interviews, conducted by Cass Fleming, Sinéad Rushe and me, with prominent UK-based Chekhov practitioners Graham Dixon, Sarah Kane and Martin Sharp (‘Interview: the MCCUK Past, Present and Future’). Between them, Dixon, Kane and Sharp had been in responsible, in 1995, for setting up the Michael Chekhov Centre UK, now reconfigured slightly as Michael Chekhov UK, a network of artists ‘who are inspired by and working in a variety of ways with the ideas of the Russian actor, director and teacher, Michael Chekhov.’ (http://www.michaelchekhov.org.uk/).

The interviews grew out of a series of conversations between us, as two generations of practitioners working with Chekhov’s technique, at what felt to us to be a transitional moment in the history of Michael Chekhov’s work in this country (for an account of that history, see Jerri Daboo’s chapter in Jonathan Pitches (ed.), Russians in Britain: British Theatre and the Russian Tradition of Actor Training (Routledge, 2011)). Following the publication of these interviews we decided that there was a compelling case for research that built upon historical analyses of Chekhov’s ideas and explorations of his legacy in contemporary actor training towards a consideration of the future of his technique.

To this end, in 2013 we began a project asking, ‘How can Chekhov’s techniques be used in the 21st century in contexts other than actor training designed for the interpretation of existing dramatic literature?’ We undertook practice research into the use of Chekhov’s technique as part of theatre-making processes that blur conventional distinctions between writers, actors and directors, and took his work into areas of theatre practice he had not taught himself: voice, movement, dance, design, applied theatre and therapeutic practices. We also initiated conversations with Chekhov practitioners in other parts of the world.

That project came to an end in September 2016 with an event at Goldsmith’s featuring over 120 participants and the production of an edited collection: Michael Chekhov Technique in the Twenty First Century: New Pathways (Bloomsbury Methuen Drama), edited by Dr Cass Fleming and Dr Tom Cornford, which will be published in 2018. The attached report offers an overview of the research undertaken to date and of our future plans. We hope that you will find it stimulating and encourage you to engage either with us directly or with Michael Chekhov UK here.

Please click here to download a copy of the New Pathways, Research Project Report.

Dr Tom Cornford

Lecturer in Theatre and Performance, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.