Josephine Christensen – Rehearsing with the Michael Chekhov Technique during the Covid-19 Pandemic


Josephine Christensen

University of Tasmania

Rehearsing with the Michael Chekhov Technique during the Covid-19 Pandemic

The first project for my practice-as-research PhD was always intended to be an act of gathering. On one level, as a theatre director, I intended to assemble a directorial process that drew upon my own embodied experience of the Michael Chekhov Acting Technique. This directing approach would amass the pedagogies and practices of Chekhovian master teachers working across Europe, UK and North America. A second act of gathering would be the collaboration inherent in any theatrical production, the exchange of creative ideas between the design team, cast and director. Finally, a third act of gathering would be data collection. The research questions to be investigated would be answered through the written and audio-visual reflections of the cast, myself as director and selected audience members at each performance. A period of archival research in the Dartington Hall Archive would examine Michael Chekhov’s own studio practice and directing techniques and integrate these findings into the project. Fundamental to realizing my project was the notion of spacio-temporal co-presence; then the Covid-19 pandemic closed theatres and rehearsal studios.

This presentation will discuss my own response to the Covid-19 pandemic. I will outline the difficulties, tensions and contradictions experienced when studio practice moves to an on-line platform. Specifically, I examine the efficacy of delivering the Michael Chekhov Technique on-line, questioning which tools lend themselves easily to the process and what needs to be adapted to overcome the spatial restrictions of lockdown. I investigate which acts of gathering enable us to invite and collaborate with others in the private spaces of our own homes. Finally, I consider the spiritual and emotional impact of the Covid-19 crisis on current theatre students and question how we can use the on-line platform to metaphorically touch one another during this period of government enforced social and physical distancing.

Josephine Christensen is a certified teacher of the Michael Chekhov Acting Technique (Great Lakes Michael Chekhov Consortium, Micha). She is a professionally trained actress (Unitec, NZ) with performance and directing credits in many genres. She has completed a Graduate Certificate in Theatre Practice at the University of Exeter in the UK and is currently a practice-as-research PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania in Australia. Josephine is currently investigating the impact of the Michael Chekhov Technique on the affectivity of theatre performance. Her research interests include, acting methodologies, embodied practices, directorial approaches, movement and voice, embodying text and classical theatre.