Russian Delsartism and Michael Chekhov: The search for the eternal type

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The Routledge Companion to Michael Chekhov provides a comprehensive assessment of Chekhov’s life, work and legacy connecting theatre theory and practice. It reconsiders the history of Chekhov’s acting method, directing and pedagogy, using archival documents from Russia, England, America, Germany, Lithuania and Switzerland. The chapter ‘Russian Delsartism and Michael Chekhov: the search for the eternal type’ uses a range of sources, including material from the Moscow Art Theatre archives, to examine how Michael Chekhov’s concepts of the emotional and spiritual significance of gesture in theatrical expression evolved in the context of interest in the voice and movement training method of nineteenth century Frenchman François Delsarte in early twentieth-century Russia. The Delsarte method as propagated by Sergei Volkonsky in Russia, was hugely influential in the reaction against Stanislavsky’s psychologically-based system. The chapter considers how some aspects of Chekhov’s acting method, particularly psychological gesture and rhythm may have been influenced in their development by Delsartism, enabling greater understanding for the theory and practice of Chekhov’s method today.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Michael Chekhov
EditorsMarie Mathieu, Yana Meerzon
ISBN (Print)9780415710183
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2015


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