Michael Chekhov and the embodied imagination: Higher self and non-self

Author: Daboo, Jerri

Source: Studies in Theatre & Performance, Volume 27, Number 3, September 2007 , pp. 261-273(13)

Publisher: Intellect

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Michael Chekhov developed a series of exercises, influenced in part by the work of Rudolf Steiner, which explore a psychophysical approach to training and performing. This article discusses his ideas and techniques in relation to the phenomenon of the embodied imagination for the actor; ways in which imagining can create a direct and altering effect on the physiology of the body; and how this can be utilised by the actor in creating a character, which they both are-and-are-not. The embodied imagination will be examined through theories from neurophysiology and sports psychology, which offer a means of articulating the connection between body and mind, and the importance of self and self-imaging from a scientific perspective. An exploration of Chekhov's Imaginary Body exercises leads into a re-examination of this through notions of the Higher Self within Anthroposophy, and non-self within Buddhism, to suggest that if the actor is engaged in the process of imagining through the body, then their sense of self is forgotten, and the embodied imagination alters the psychophysicality to be/become that of the character.

Keywords: Buddhism; Michael Chekhov; Steiner; psychophysical; sports psychology

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/stap.27.3.261_1

Publication date: September 27, 2007

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  • Studies in Theatre and Performance is a peer-reviewed journal which fosters a progressive forum to explore the nuances of theatre practice. The journal provides a critical scope to include other related disciplines in its scrutiny of the stage, exploring the interplay between performance, audience and dramatic practice.
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