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THEATRE INSTITUTE FAQ

For ACTORS, DIRECTORS, TEACHERS

with

The LONGEST-RUNNING Michael Chekhov Teacher Certification Program in America!

The National Michael Chekhov Association is offering a very intense training with Wil Kilroy and Lisa Dalton, at various universities around the country. The curriculum is thematically structured with integrated units in three parts: exercise, improvisation and scene application.  We are very excited about this as it means as soon as you learn each tool, you will have a chance to try improvising with it and then immediately rehearsing your scene.  Your final scene showcase will allow you to present your scene twice! There will be one group of 20 maximum and classes are team-taught, consecutive and aggregate.  There are new support and training materials to help retain the information and ample notes for the work.
Daily Institute Themes
Day1:  CHEKHOV as a Foundation for your art
Day2:  Unity of Imagination and Body- Psycho-Physical Education
Day3:  Sensational Feelings-A healthy path to Emotions
Day4:  Transformational Characterization
Day5:  Unifying with Psychological Gesture 
Day6:  Synthesis with our Audience
Day7:  Radiating Chekhov to the World (for Teaching Candidates)
Teaching Candidates have an extra day and year-round support is available.
Actor participants are invited to attend and play with the Teacher Candidates.
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Why Michael Chekhov Technique?

Michael  Chekhov's unique contribution to acting has been one of the best kept secrets  of the theatrical world. Born in 1891, Michael, nephew of Anton Chekhov, famed author and playwright, became one of Russia's Most Honored Actors. Constantine  Stanislavski considered Misha his most brilliant pupil. He is often considered  to be the finest actor Russia has ever produced. By 1928, as head of the  2nd Moscow Art Theater, Chekhov's innovative directing and teaching had  provoked such severe criticism by the Communist government, he was forced to  flee the country for safety.  In time, he came to America where he  published his training methods. Michael Chekhov was deeply respected by his peers, Stella  Adler, Sanford Meisner, Lee Strasberg, and Harold Clurman. Some of his  students included James Dean,  Anthony Quinn, Jack Palance, Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal,  Gregory Peck, Clint Eastwood, Marilyn Monroe, Lloyd Bridges, Elia  Kazan, Yul Brynner and Jack Nicholson.
Some contemporary actors who have used this technique include:
Johnny Depp, Anthony Hopkins, James Spader, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Jodie Foster, Sharon Gless, Jimmie Smits.

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Who should take this?

1. Acting beginners who want to quickly learn to act with a full set of emotional skills.
2. Professionals wanting to deepen their experience and training.
3. Teachers wanting to extend their training methods to help students find their place on-stage. 
4. Directors wishing to acquire rapid communication tools and dynamic rehearsal techniques.
5. Persons interested in expanding themselves and gaining a greater understanding of humans.
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Will I get to perform? YES

The Institute culminates in a scene showcase the 6th evening. This is an open performance. Invite your agents, friends and family.
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What if I can't take the whole course?

ENROLL FOR THE FULL COURSE OR JUST THE EVENING SEMINAR SERIES.

THE SEMINAR SERIES

The evenings consist seminars OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

MICHAEL CHEKHOV TECHNIQUE AS PATH TO PEAK PERFORMANCE:

CHEKHOV'S THEATRE OF THE FUTURE IS NOW!

Lisa Dalton and Wil Kilroy lay the foundation for the week with a wealth of information regarding the biography and historical context of Michael Chekhov and the relevance of his theories in today's actor training.

THE WHOLE AUDITION AS A PIECE OF ART

Bring your star quality into the room and exit with radiance and inner joy! Learn techniques to cope with performance anxiety, how to cultivate the "IT" factor, feel happy with your meeting!   This seminar has been immensely popular in Los Angeles, Europe and Moscow alike.

MAKE THE GREAT CHOICE-Script Analysis

There is a saying in the casting world that goes:  The Talent is in the Choice! What does this mean and how can you learn to make powerful creative choices that make sense with the style and text?
Every actor, writer, director needs to know how to analyze the text AND then how to synthesize what they analyze. This where Stanislavsky and Chekhov make an unbeatable team!

SEE FOR YOURSELF!-Video Clips

The last part of the evening will include viewing clips from some of Mr. Chekhov's films as well as from some of his actor's Oscar Winning Performances and other Chekhov aficionados such as Oscar winner Beatrice Straight, Anthony Quinn, Johnny Depp and Anthony Hopkins.

KNOCK THREE TIMES

Improv / Monologue Nite

Come and witness our participants in this creative presentation of  rehearsed improvisations as they craft a solo scenario which must include three Knocks, a jump, lying on the floor, standing on a chair, and much more!  The uniqueness and spontaneity will delight you!
Come and play with our Institute participants as you craft a solo improv, using a pre-set standard task list, and try your own monologue using a couple of Chekhov techniques you will be taught. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED to participate.

USING CHEKHOV AT THE HELM- Directing/Teaching

This program focuses on how to direct using Chekhov techniques and then looks more closely at how to teach the Chekhov Technique.  This program is excellent for Directors and Teachers as well as Actors who ultimately can cultivate self-directing and self-educating.

OUR WORK IN PROGRESS & RECEPTION!

Join us as we celebrate our intensive exploration by sharing the scenes we have developed using this fanciful and expanding approach!  Our participants will put it altogether this night, revealing two distinct versions of their scenes using different aspects of what they have learned. It is sure to be surprising and we guarantee some courageous commitment to stepping out of the box of their older ways!  Join us for a little reception following.
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INFO about NMCA Pedagogy and Faculty

Enroll to learn the material or to learn to teach the material.

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The National Michael Chekhov Association(NMCA, Inc.) is dedicated to developing solid pedagogy for this fascinating actor/director training system.  Since 1994, NMCA, Inc. has offered an intensive instructional approach that encompasses a tried and true system of communication with artists founded on Michael Chekhov's Chart for Inspired Acting. This Chart was personally made for Walk of Fame Honoree, Mala Powers, who co-founded NMCA, Inc. and this teaching structure with Prof. Kilroy and Ms. Dalton. The late Ms. Powers was a close personal friend of Mr. Chekhov and executrix of the Chekhov Estate. She was the only direct student who was privately coached on her starring roles and who subsequently became a teacher of the work. This NMCA training carries on the tradition co-created by the late Ms. Powers and is unique in its thorough integration of applications for all media and the scope of training styles throughout Chekhov's ever evolving personal style.

Lisa Dalton and Wil Kilroy are both active actor/teacher/directors on stage and on camera.

Professor Kilroy is the Theater Department Chair of the University of Southern Maine and brings an in-depth knowledge of academic concerns along with his professional experience in Los Angeles, NY and New England. His stage productions have been selected for performances at the Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festivals, and he has been a recipient of their bronze medallion.  His specialty areas of actor training include stage movement and voice, with additional certification in fitness training. Having originally worked with the late Blair Cutting at New York's Michael Chekhov Studio, he emphasizes a creative approach to character development and improvisation.

Ms. Dalton, since 1976, has sustained a career acting/directing/teaching in New York, Los Angeles and Texas, winning awards for stage acting and film directing. A co-founder of the International Michael Chekhov Workshops and creator of the first two held in the United States, Ms. Dalton was the only English speaking teacher to teach at the International Michael Chekhov Symposium at Sorbonne, Paris in Sept. 2007. Her clientele are series regulars and film stars, as well as faculty at major universities, in the US and Europe. She currently resides in Fort Worth, TX. Her recent guest teaching includes SAG/AFTRA's ProACT organization, KCACTF,  TCU and the Actors Movement Studio in NY. Lisa continues to produce training media and contribute documentary materials, most recently for a Russian TV special on Michael Chekhov. Having studied with 10 direct students of Mr. Chekhov her specialty areas include Chekhov's psychophysical training, script analysis and synthesis into various media.
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What is unique about Michael Chekhov’s approach?


Michael Chekhov's approach is founded in an understanding of the artist as a whole being whose thoughts, feelings, desires, voice and physical body are intimately interwoven. We train all of these aspects jointly. We consider the talent of an individual to be an innate gift which may be hidden by disconnections in the artists which can be reconnected through this unifying training.
Many of the most established actor trainings develop the thinking process of the artist through memory, substitution and gut response of the person, leaving physical training to separate teachers of Physical Education.  One could say we cultivate experts in Psycho-Physical Education.
Other techniques also promote the artistic use of the everyday personality of the actor, leading to predictable performances, excluding the transformational work possible with characterization.  Mr. Chekhov invites us to transform to a grander state of artistry through radiation and characterization-be it subtle or blatant, like noted actors Johnny Depp and Anthony Hopkins.
Chekhov techniques work well for all styles and genre on stage and on camera.
Chekhov uses the unlimited imagination, visualization and concentration in a similar way to most peak performance trainings in sales, health, athletics and general success. Mastering the inner game and the outer game at the same time is a standard training process that has not been actively cultivated in the cannon of actor training.

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How does Michael Chekhov's approach compare with Strasberg, Adler, Meisner, and other modern approaches?

Chekhov believes the character already exists in your imagination, independent of whether you are conscious of it. Every character is part of you, but not the EVERY DAY You that the world knows. It is part of your HIGHER SELF.
Chekhov's definition of YOU includes your highest spirit and soul as well as your everyday practical self. Most other established techniques could be said to define YOU as your everyday practical self and your conscious memories. For example, Meisner asks us to be in the moment, responding from our instincts, based on unchecked reactions to the stimulus from our partners. Chekhov seeks the same "In the Moment" responsiveness but from through the Character's mask rather than the Actor's gut. Chekhov cautions actors that use of the personal self as the basis of the character can lead to repetitive performances. Additionally, my experience is it leads to helplessness if your partner is lacking, and lack of coherence with the script if your personal reactions are quite different than what the story indicates.
Chekhov encourages turning inward to observe the wealth of knowledge in your unlimited imagination before relying upon observing the outer world. Turn to the outer world for verification and tweaking if necessary. External observation of life is central to the Stella Adler and Uta Hagen approaches and information gathered through observation is always filtered through the actor’s everyday sense of perception, rather than the Higher Ego or the Character’s perception. Inner observation of one’s imagination diverges from the Affective Memory Techniques of recalling personal experience. If you are asked to recall, and you don't want to, you can call the memory up in your imagination and observe it objectively, identifying the atmospheres, the Qualities Of Movement, maybe detecting the Psychological Gestures coming at you or from you. You can then leave the memory intact and use the tool safely as your method.  Additionally, if you must use a painful memory, you can counteract the health damage by spending the same or more time recalling a really wonderful memory to balance and heal the painful memory.
Chekhov approaches you as a holistic system whose body is intimately and inextricably intertwined with your thoughts, dreams, imagination, and memories. As such the entire being of the artist can be trained to transform itself into another being using repeatable and often simple means of expression combined with images. These characters have their own holistic systems. Discussions and references to Chekhov as being an External versus Internal technique are discouraged on the basis of the inseparable nature of our multi-leveled being. As such, for teachers and directors, using the phrase now Veil it, is preferred to now Internalize it, which may unwittingly promote the sense of no outer expression or radiation of the inner life. Stanislavsky's books state that we aim to create the soul of a character. This aligns with Chekhov's teachings.
Chekhov seeks to actively improve the person, help develop health and happy human beings. The work is based in the idea that you are innately talented and the greater health and balance you have, the more easily you can reveal that talent. Techniques that invite the actor to rely upon substitution or memory can lead actors to block personal balance and health out of the fear that they need dysfunction in order to have acting resources. This can lead people to self destructive behavior. In keeping with this goal, one can create Personal Gestures to improve oneself- to recognize the hold something has on us by doing a fearful / raging / pained gesture and transforming into a victorious, harmonious, balanced gesture. I call this a Transformational Gesture and it can be used to center you for tests, to meet special challenges, release rages, etc.
Chekhov invites us to know our selves and then compare our selves to our characters. This way, one can acknowledge that which is the same and know it is handled.  We can then focus on differences between us.
Technique is only needed when inspiration fails you. It only takes one tool to trigger inspiration. Once you are in the zone, no technique is needed. There are no tools in the center for inspiration.

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How does Michael Chekhov technique relate to spatial awareness trainings such as View Points and Laban?

The Michael Chekhov technique offers an intuitive approach to space through
use of elements such as atmospheres which unite all the spatial influences
into images that stimulate the actor and generate the soul of the performance. It is tremendously powerful and can be instantly created through the actors imagination. All of the tools bring the actor into awareness of time, space, levels, dimension, planes and dynamics by training the mind, the body and the creative spirit simultaneously. Often the non-Chekhov techniques separate out the mathematical, geometric, analytical or purely physical element from the feelings and psychological richness which Chekhov cultivates. Also, because Michael Chekhov techniques are so spatially connected, they can be used in performance without sending the actor in to their head. Chekhov is more than just a training process.
Adding Michael Chekhov technique to your spatial awareness training will
enrich your current knowledge.

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How does Michael Chekhov technique relate to other emotional flexibility trainings?

Chekhov's idea of crossing thresholds and full-body sensations and qualities are as powerful as any currently available emotional flexibility training from the
east or west.

The need for the artist to be able to change emotional states without motivation is becoming ever more clear to the teachers and directors. Actors today must be able to shift on a dime, on cue, in rehearsal, on a set with no other partners present, or act off a broom stick, terrible casting director or unskilled partner. The idea of needing time to prep through painful memory, or needing someone else to stimulate you is evidently not serving this high speed world. SO YES, PLEASE GET EMOTIONAL FLEXIBILITY TRAINING. LEARN IT AND SHARE IT.

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What is unique about the pedagogy of the NMCA, Inc.?

  • Both Lisa and Wil have been professional teachers, collectively, over 50 years, of many different acting techniques. Chekhov is their favorite approach and they are adept at sharing how to integrate the Chekhov technique with other methods.
  • This program has developed over 20 years of teaching together with an absolute commitment to cultivating qualified teachers through the development of teaching techniques for all ages.
  • Extensive research has been done to develop cross references with science, medicine, quantum physics, athletics and other peak performance studies.
  • Chekhov's fondness for concept maps and graphs has been developed with new charts and maps to help actors to access the many possible tools that can support them in their career and lives.
  • The faculty has had the advantage of access to an array of unpublished information due to the video and annotated private archives of Ms. Dalton and Mala Powers, the Chekhov Estate Executrix.
  • Memory tools, Power Point Presentations and anagrams have been developed to help retain the knowledge and make it fun for students to learn.
  • A clear flow for a pattern of teaching has been developed as a spring board for the teacher and actor.
  • A clear way to synthesize Stanislavsky’s system of analysis with Chekhov’s Chart for Inspired Acting insures the ability to make great choices.
  • We offer specific applications for Stage and On camera as well as for auditions and directing.
  • We provide ongoing support for Alumni and Teaching Certificate Candidates on an as available basis.
  • The NMCA is working toward cultivating active exchange of experiences among teachers for different age groups and academic styles as well as for professional training.
  • We believe in the creative individuality of the teacher and the actor equally. This means we support adaptation of the technique to the nature of the artist,  embracing the fundamental premises that nurture the human being as found in Michael Chekhov’s teachings.
  • The pedagogical structure is founded in the tenants of the technique itself. This means we use the technique to teach the techniques, for example: with a feeling of Ease, Form, Beauty and Wholeness and using Triplicity, Polarity and Transformation.
  • We are interested in support and exchange of information for syllabus and assessment development.
  • We are committed to continued development of training materials in various media, INCLUDING ON-LINE TEACHING COMPONENTS.
  • We are experienced as actors, directors, and teachers in formats including Equity, Academic and Community Theatre,  as well as Commercials, Episodic and Sit Com TV, Feature and Experimental Film.
  • We have guest taught, directed and performed in nations around the world, with actors from over 50 countries, in Russia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Caribbean, and the Americas.
  • We hope there will eventually be enough teachers of Michael Chekhov’s technique that every actor training program will be able to offer it as a standard part of an overall program.

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