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Michael Chekhov School News / October 2015

* First Year at the Michael Chekhov School!

The Michael Chekhov School has opened its doors in Hudson, NY, located two hours north of New York City. For our inaugural year a dedicated group of actors have joined the school to develop their skills and understanding in the Michael Chekhov Acting Technique.

The Michael Chekhov School is an initiative of The Actors' Ensemble and is led by three long-time practitioners of this work: Ted Pugh, Fern Sloan and Ragnar Freidank. All three teachers were featured in the Michael Chekhov Association's (MICHA) "Master Classes" DVD-series, published by Routledge. Fern and Ted's relationship to the Michael Chekhov work goes back to the original New York Michael Chekhov Studio founded by Beatrice Straight. Both Fern and Ted were on the faculty at that studio, which permanently closed its doors in 1990.

The Michael Chekhov School's program meets in three sessions -spring, summer and fall- for a progressive journey through the complete legacy of Michael Chekhov's technique. Between sessions all participants resume their own individual work, informed by their time at the school - and in turn bring experiences of their own professional work back to the next working session.

We are very excited about this emerging model of learning as a way to integrate each participant's own professional life or studies with the journey at the school. On the right column below you can find a short video with reflections from our participants on the summer session. Also, below is a letter from one of our participating actresses, Gabriela Bonomo, which she wrote upon returning from the school to her work on a project.

We want to invite you to join our school's journey in spirit via this newsletter, by visiting video-updates on our 
website or by checking in on the school via facebook.

As our first year is concluding, we are very excited to announce that the Michael Chekhov School is

* Now accepting Applications for 2016!

A group of up to 12 actors will have the opportunity to join for an immersive journey through the Michael Chekhov Technique, which will give participants a thorough practical understanding and confidence in this work.
We are looking to get word out on the Michael Chekhov School's existence - with the intention that actors, looking for such a way of training, will find the school.
We want to reach applicants
* for whom acting is a professional choice
* who are serious about their own craft and development
* who don't necessarily need to have worked professionally, but who have the intention of becoming a professional performer
* who already have some prior fundamental training in acting
* who are serious about committing to 9 intensive weeks in the Michael Chekhov Technique.

We welcome your interest or support, and we would love to hear from you with inquiries, thoughts or suggestions.
With best wishes,
Your Michael Chekhov School
All photos by Eddie Marritz.
Summer Session with: Gabriel Rodriguez, Gabriela Bonomo, Peggy Coffey, Valorie Kissel, Berda Vox, Danielle Carter, Dorothea Barth-Jörgensen, K.D. Guadagno, Travis Clark Morris, James McKinney.
Summer Session, Michael Chekhov School
[VIDEO] Summer Session. Camera: Martin D. Anderson

Letter from Gabriela Bonomo to the Michael Chekhov School about working on a project after the summer session: This Friday my company is putting up a Short Play Festival/Fundraiser event and I am directing one of the pieces. This is the second time I direct in my life and the last one was before Alice was born. So I was a little worried about what to do... Tonight when I walked into the room and saw my friends there I was so excited to be diving into this with them and I knew where to start! I walked them through building a sphere of presence and noticing their energetic body (right-left-up-down-front-back), we walked through the room carrying our spheres and there was Michael Chekhov helping me find a way in. :)
Not only helping me, but creating a ground for all of us to walk on, being the thread that builds the web between us. All I had to do was follow it. 
Our opening exercise led to our dynamic first reading. I was in the warm up with them and found myself setting up chairs around the room while practicing moving in my sphere with ease (that at this point was full of imaginary needles in joyful exploration). When I stepped back to be an observer I saw what I had set up was actually perfect for staging purposes and I would never have come to it if I hadn't been Chekhov-ing. 
At the end of a first read we gathered in a circle and shared experiences and I could see the gestures coming out of each of the actors in their own way. I could cherish their process and their discoveries and not feel pressured to do anything except to receive. 
One of my friends has a super sharp analytical mind and as he spoke of a specific moment in the play, he identified two things occurring in him. One he called rage and the other he wasn't sure what to call but the feeling was clear to him. So we got up to explore those things in gesture-land. We started with the sensation he called rage. He eventually got to a push gesture where he also took a step back. I watched for a while as he renewed the gesture and I could feel the energy dispersing/diluting instead of focusing/distilling. I pointed out to him that he was taking a step back and he explored some more and found two gestures: a push and a defend (creating a shield with him arms over his face with a slight contraction in his torso, moving into the back space). I realized that both gestures had been in the first one where he pushed and took a step back! 
We then had the other actor read to him the short speech where he had originally identified the double movement happening in him. He moved around the space and reacted using the gestures outwardly. We spoke about how ultimately he is going to be sitting 99% of the play and how it was important to find the physical movements and do them fully so that they can live in him as he sits.
I don't know where this process is going but I am excited to find out! I wanted to share this with you... I have found a way to continue to practice Chekhov through observing others, through directing and sharing the treasures I found with you all this summer. I realize how deeply this work is settling into my body. I found a one-way golden ticket to joyful, loving creativity. Thank you!

Copyright © 2015 Michael Chekhov School, an initiative of The Actors' Ensemble, Inc.