Mikhail Chekhov

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Chekhov, Mikhail Aleksandrovich


Born Aug. 16 (28), 1891, in St. Petersburg; died Sept. 30, 1955, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Russian actor, director, and teacher. Honored Artist of the Republic (1924).

Mikhail A. Chekhov was A. P. Chekhov’s nephew. In 1911 he graduated from the A. S. Suvorin Theatrical School in St. Petersburg; he worked in the Suvorin theater, where he played Fedor in A. K. Tolstoy’s Tsar Fedor Ioannovich. In 1913 he joined the Moscow Art Theater and worked in its First Studio. The views on theater and ethics held by K. S. Stanislavskii, L. A. Sulerzhitskii, and E. B. Vakhtangov had a decisive influence on Chekhov. His acute perception of the world, infectious emotionality, brilliant gift for improvisation, and virtuoso talent marked Chekhov as one of the most prominent Russian actors.

Chekhov’s best roles include Frázer in Berger’s The Deluge, Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the title roles in Strindberg’s Erik XIV and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ableukhov in Belyi’s Petersburg, and Khlestakov in Gogol’s The Inspector-General. From 1919 to 1922, Chekhov was in charge of his own studio—the Chekhov Studio. In 1924 he became the head of the Moscow Art Theater’s First Studio, which was reorganized and renamed the Second Moscow Art Academic Theater, or Second MKhAT, in the same year. In 1928, however, the disagreements within the theater, as well as the contradictions in Chekhov’s own world view, led him to quit the Second MKhAT. In the same year, Chekhov went abroad.

The alien theater environment and language had a disastrous effect on Chekhov’s creative work; he enacted only two important stage roles—the title role in A. K. Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan the Terrible and the role of Foma Opiskin in The Village of Stepanchikovo (adapted from Dostoevsky). Chekhov’s attempts to organize repertory theaters in Paris, Prague, and New York ended in failure. He directed actors’ studios in Lithuania, Latvia (1932–34), and Great Britain, as well as an actors’ training group in Hollywood in the 1940’s. He also acted in films. Chekhov’s students included the English actor P. Rogers and the American film actors G. Peck and Y. Brynner.

Chekhov wrote two books, The Actor’s Path (1928) and To the Actor, on the Technique of Acting (1953).


Dikii, A. D. Povest’ o teatral’noi iunosti. Moscow, 1957.
Markov, P. A. “Pervaia studiia MKhT (Sulerzhitskii’-Vakhtangov-Chekhov).” In his Pravda teatra. Moscow, 1965.
Gromov, V. Mikhail Chekhov. Moscow, 1970.
Morov, A. Tragediia khudozhnika. Moscow, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Within the framework of the International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama, the Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre from Latvia will present Medea by the ancient Greek playwright Euripides at Curium Ancient Theatre, Limassol on Friday and at Skali on Sunday.
For example, the first entry is listed as "Mikhail Chekhov. 'Around Chekhov'" No dates are given for the entry, but the reader can find the date of publication in the annotated bibliography in the back.
This is a translated version of Vokrug Chekhova: Vstrechi i vpechatlenia [Around Chekhov: Encounters and Impressions] (originally published in the Soviet Union in 1933), in which writer and translator Mikhail Chekhov recalls his famous brother, the playwright and short-story writer Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), for whom he worked as assistant and secretary and was thereby a more intimate witness to the growth of the writer's career and development beyond mere brotherhood.
It is called Mikhail Chekhov as Actor, Director, and Teacher and is written by Lendley C.
Other plays in this year's festival include Medea by Euripides performed by the Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theatre, Latvia; Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus performed by the National Theatre of Northern Greece; Oedipus the King by Sophocles produced by Theatro Dentro, Cyprus and The Bacchae by Euripides performed by the Yair Shermen Ensemble, Israel.