Michael Chekhov's Lessons for Teachers, Expanded Edition

Michael Chekhov’s Lessons for Teachers, Expanded Edition is a beautiful prism through which we can examine the practice of Chekhov’s technique. As well as including concentration exercises, these lessons often touch on the spiritual aspects of his work. For any teacher or director it will bear returning to again and again. New aspects of the technique will reveal themselves and prove valuable each time.

This edition consists of 27 Lessons given by Michael Chekhov between 1936-1939. Transcribed from the original shorthand notes by Deirdre Hurst du Prey, it is edited and introduced by Jessica Cerullo with German Translation by Ragnar Freidank and Mani Wintsch and Russian Translation by Maxim Krivosheyev.

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Michael Chekhov’s Lessons for Teachers, Expanded Edition

Michael Tschechows Lektionen für Schauspiellehrer

Михаил Чехов Уроки для педагогов

6x9, 245 pages
Publish Date: June, 2018
Subjects: Acting, Teaching
ISBN: 978-0-9828666-5-8

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Listen to Ragnar Freidank interview editor Jessica Cerullo on the podcast Everything Is But the Door to the Feelings here.

As I read these lessons, I rushed to put pencil to paper to capture Chekhov’s essential ideas. I was moved to tears by the loneliness and candor of this man; the meaning of his words often escaped me, causing me to read them again and again! The process seemed like studying the miraculous fragments of navigation charts, unearthed long after a great discovery had been made.
— Dmitry Krymov Director, Artist, Scenographer, Teacher at the Russian Academy of Theatre Art, Moscow
Way deeper than a book of exercises, these lessons actually address what it means to be a teacher. Chekhov tells you how to prepare your body and spirit to step into the studio, with clear, inspiring advice in each lesson. Michael Chekhov believed it was a high calling, to teach with one’s whole being. Now his clear, grounded, articulate ideas are with us due to the dedication of his disciples in the 1930s and in the 21st century. We owe them much for this incredible resource.
— Joan Schirle, Founding Artistic Director, Dell’Arte International




Chekhov’s words point to a sphere that all actors should conquer in order to create the kind of performance that truly inspires an audience. I was familiar with the original edition of Lessons for Teachers, and it is wonderful to read them again in this superb multilingual publication. Especially wonderful is the newly included lesson “We Have to Be Full of Music,” in which he describes a society transformed into a culture of humanity through art. The entire edition is a great enrichment for all trainers who work according to Chekhov’s method.
— Jobst Langhans, Director, Michael Tschechow Studio, Berlin
What I find most exciting in this short book is the ability to enter the technique from different directions and glimpse the beauty of its holistic nature. Each exercise contains practical learning but is also connected to “the whole” of his technique. This is deep work which aspires to the high dream of “the unifying being,” the greater spirit behind what theatre can be. A Tao Te Ching for the teacher of Chekhov’s Future Theatre.
— Phelim McDermott, Artistic Director, Improbable Theatre Co, UK
Michael Chekhov’s Lessons for Teachers allows us a glimpse of that great acting teacher’s deep dedication to his students. While the techniques Chekhov taught expanded those he had learned from Stanislavsky, his manner of teaching them was utterly different.

Speaking of Stanislavsky, Chekhov says, “His attitude was, ‘I know everything and you know nothing,’ and this quality killed much in our souls, and, therefore, almost all of us hated the Method.” Chekhov’s own view of how to teach was quite different. “As a teacher,” Chekhov says, “you must feel and discover when you can dictate to your pupils how a thing must be done or felt, and when you must suggest that perhaps they will feel this or that effect or result.”
This small volume, printed here in English, German, and Russian, is sometimes vague or mysterious, but it is suffused with what Chekhov would call an “atmosphere”— an atmosphere of love, for the theatre, for his students, and for the art of teaching.
— Stephen Wangh, Arts Professor Emeritus, NYU Author of An Acrobat of the Heart and The Heart of Teaching



Michael Chekhov, born in Russia in 1891, was an internationally celebrated actor, teacher, and director. The nephew of the playwright Anton Chekhov, and a pupil of Constantine Stanislavsky, Chekhov’s psychophysical approach advocated for the power of the imagination, which, he claimed, led actors to a place of pure creativity, free of their own limited experiences and emotions. Chekhov’s acting technique was developed during a period of immense international crisis and personal chaos. After leaving Russia in 1928, he lived the remainder of his life in exile, performing, teaching, and directing in Germany, France, Latvia, Lithuania, England, and the United States. His first book in English, To the Actor: on the Technique of Acting, was published in 1953. He died in Hollywood in 1955.



Deirdre Hurst du Prey enrolled as a student in the Chekhov Theatre Studio and served as Michael Chekhov’s personal assistant from 1935–1942. Chekhov awarded her an actor’s diploma and teacher’s certificate in 1939 and she assisted him in writing his first book, To the Actor. She later compiled and edited Chekhov’s teachings in the book Lessons for the Professional Actor. The typescript of her archive The Actor is the Theatre, a collection of Michael Chekhov’s unpublished notes and manuscripts on the art of acting and the theatre, is deposited at the New York Public Library, Adelphi University, Harvard University, The University of Windsor, Queen’s University at Kingston, and the Devon Record Office in England. She died in 2007 at the age of one hundred.



Jessica Cerullo, Editor, serves on the faculty of MICHA, the Michael Chekhov Association, and as a Professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Whitman College. She edited the English language version of Chekhov’s illustrated story, A Tale About Lies and How Swiftly They Spread Across the Earth and is an actor in the series Master Classes in the Michael Chekhov Technique.


Ragnar Freidank, German Co-translator, was trained as an actor at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg (Germany) and studied the Michael Chekhov Technique with Ted Pugh and Fern Sloan in NYC. He is an award-winning filmmaker and co-founder of the Michael Chekhov School in Hudson, New York.

Maxim Krivosheyev, Russian Translator, is a theatre management graduate of the Moscow Art Theatre School, where he managed the international acting programs for many years. He translated Michael Chekhov’s Lessons for the Professional Actor into Russian in 2011.

Mani Wintsch, German Co-translator, is a director. He co-produced the Michael Chekhov Symposium at the University of Zurich in 2013 and taught as a Professor ZFH from 1991 to 2014 in the Department of Performing Arts and Film at the Zurich University of the Arts.