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Books by Michael Chekhov

These books are by Michael Chekhov, the essential Chekhov Library. Most are avaiilable at Amazon. One is currently out-of-print and only available through NMCA. Click the button to purchase from Amazon. Read the descriptive notes which NMCA wrote to provide you useful information about the use and gifts in each book.

NOTE: Most of these books can be found through Amazon and other online booksellers. You may find some in university libraries as well.


Michael Chekhov
with Mala Powers

At last, Michael Chekhov in his own words, uncensored! This 1942 manuscript was finally released for Publication in 1991 through the efforts of Chekhov Student and Estate Executrix Mala Powers. Over the six decades since its 1953 publication, Michael Chekhov's To the Actor became a standard text for students of the theater. It is,  however, actually a heavily edited version of the original 1942 manuscript
Now AVAILABLE as: On The Technique of Acting.  Ms. Powers contributed to this edition two very special additions. The first is her Preface, complete with the Chart for Inspired Acting. This chart, originally drawn by Mr. Chekhov's hand for Mala, is the ultimate concept map of his approach to training and inspired performance. It shows graphically most of his teachings in one symbol, useful to teachers and learners alike as a quick-reference short-hand overview of the techniques.  The second major contribution Ms. Powers made to the book is an afterword about the techniques developed with Hollywood and motion picture actors, after his publication and prior to his passing in the 1950’s.

Scholars and teachers of Chekhov's technique have hailed On the Technique of Acting as the clearest, most accurate presentation of the principles he taught to Yul Brynner, Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Gregory Peck, Marilyn  Monroe, Anthony Quinn, Beatrice Straight, and Mala Powers, among others.

This is the book NMCA suggests new students of Chekhov begin with. It has a clear explanation of his key teachings. It has a biographical introduction by Mel Gordon, who describes the translation and publishing difficulties of To The Actor and On The Technique of Acting. It has the new preface with the Chart for Inspired Acting and afterword by Mala Powers, and the original text clarifies the pivotal role of the imagination in actors' understanding of themselves and the roles they play. The workshops and Institutes of NMCA follow this Chart and the Institute teaches all the techniques from this book throughout the week.


Michael Chekhov

To the Actor was originally published 1953, after careful elimination by American publishers, from the 1942 manuscript, of concepts considered too risky for the public readership of the time.
Though many actors, such as Johnny Depp, Anthony Hopkins and Jeff Bridges, have read this text, some others put it aside as a treasure to be opened at a later date. Don’t wait. This text is filled with essential techniques for actors and directors. With contemporary understandings of mind-body-imagination, the dedicated student can explore and experience the exercises laid out here. This 2002 re-issue of the 1953 text has an expanded biography by Mala Powers, preface by Simon Callow and a previously unpublished chapter on 'Psychological Gesture', translated into English by director Andrei Malaev.  NMCA recommends this as the second book to explore (First is On The Technique of Acting, 1991) with a special focus on Chapter 8’s analysis.


Michael Chekhov's to the Director and Playwright

Michael Chekhov

Charles Leonard assembled this book after Mr. Chekhov died, with class notes, production notes and transcriptions of audio lectures Mr. Chekhov gave in 1955.

Chekhov describes his teachings on the subject of direction and play structure. He discusses his close relationship to the Russian directors of Moscow Art Theater, including Stanislavski, Vakhtangov, Myerhold and Tairov, and provides an in-depth study of his concept of applying atmospheres and rehearsal methods to his seminal production of The Revisor (Inspector General).   This book is a valuable resource for directors who want to know how to structure their productions in ways that will thrill and uplift their audiences, for playwrights who want to create play structure which follows the proven thrilling productions, and for actors who want a clear understanding of why almost all theatrical productions follow well-defined structures. It is also a resource who want to learn about the real relationship between Michael Chekhov and Konstantin Stanislavski, as well as the other great Russian directors. A true gem in this book is the text of his lecture on the practical application of Love in our profession. These timeless words are inspiring to people from all walks of life.

The Path Of The Actor

Michael Chekhov

This is the first English translation of Michael Chekhov’s two-volume autobiography, combining The Path of the Actor (1927) and extensive extracts from his later volume Life and Encounters.
Full of illuminating anecdotes and insightful observations involving prominent characters from the MAT and the European theatre of the early twentieth century, Chekhov takes us through events in his acting career and personal life, from his childhood in St. Petersburg until his emigration to Latvia and Lithuania in the early 1930s.
Accompanying Chekhov's witty, penetrating, and immensely touching accounts are extensive and authoritative notes compiled by leading Russian Chekhov scholar, Andrei Kirillov. Anglo-Russian trained actor Bella Merlin provides a useful hands-on overview of how the contemporary practitioner might utilise and develop Chekhov's ideas.
Chekhov was arguably one of the greatest actors of the twentieth century. His life made a huge impact on his profession, and his actor-training techniques inspired many a Hollywood legend – including such actors as Anthony Hopkins and Jack Nicholson -while his books outlining his teaching methods and philosophy of acting are still bestsellers today.
The Path of the Actor is an extraordinary document which allows us unprecedented access into the life, times, mind and soul of a truly extraordinary man.


Lessons for the Professional Actor

Michael Chekhov

This volume collects the brilliant lectures which Michael Chekhov presented at his studio in New York in 1941 to a host of local and famous acting students, including Paula Strasberg. His technique and philosophy of acting initially derived from his Moscow Art Theatre work with Stanislavsky.
Under such titles as The Psychological Gesture, The Imagination, Continuous Acting, the Chekhov teaching method of psycho-physical exercises, improvisations, scene study, and Questions and Answers reveals its continued importance for actor training today.
Because of the dialectical teaching methods of this class, and the questions from challenging "professional" students, Chekhov explains some of his more complex concepts in clear ways not seen in some other books. This is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to know Michael Chekhov more or people who just want to understand his methods better.

Michael Chekhov: On Theatre and the Art of Acting:

The Five-Hour Master Class 4 CDs and Booklet

This four CD program includes material not covered in either of Chekhov's books, On the Technique of Acting or the new edition of To the Actor. The highlights include: The Art of Characterization; Short Cuts   to Role Preparation; How to Awaken Artistic Feelings and Emotions;   Avoiding Monotony in Performance; Overcoming Inhibitions and Building   Self-Confidence; Psycho-Physical Exercises; and Development of the Ensemble Spirit.

This series of lectures was originally recorded by John Abbott in 1955 when Mr. Chekhov grew too ill to teach his Hollywood class. Students submitted questions that John brought  and Mr. Chekhov answered them in this five hour series, recorded shortly before Chekhov’s death. To hear Mr. Chekhov himself address taboo subjects such as “Love” and the role of Spirit in Art is a special treat you will want to hear over and over again.  To provide context for each lecture, the series is introduced by Mala Powers, the Chekhov Estate Executrix who arranged for this set to be published. Ms. Powers crafted an exercise booklet to accompany the audio files so that you can practice the lessons he teaches.

This product contains the CDs and a booklet with partial transcriptions and exercises.
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Michael Chekhov


MICHAEL CHEKHOV: LESSONS FOR TEACHERS is the result of lessons transcribed by Deirdre Hurst du Prey, who with Beatrice Straight, first met and then trained with Mr. Chekhov in Dartington Hall, England and later in Ridgefield, CT.  It is out of print but we have a few!

It was at the beginning of 1936  that Chekhov gave 18 lessons to Beatrice Straight and Deirdre. From the verbatim shorthand notes Deirdre tirelessly compiled and stored comes this published book, unedited, just as he delivered them.  Chekhov's unique use of rhythm, atmosphere, the actors' ego and his emphasis on creative  imagination in the teaching of acting technique, all contribute to make  these lessons a valuable addition to the literature on Chekhov already  in print. In their sometimes deceptively simple form, they contain the essence of Michael Chekhov's mode of teaching his technique. A special highlight is Chekhov’s chart for how to develop imagination skills.



Visit the About Michael Chekhov Room. It contains more recent books written by authors who have studied Chekhov and used his teachings in their own theater acting and teaching. These are valuable resources for the student of Michael Chekhov and books NMCA recommends them all.

Books About Chekhov