michael chekhov, sanford meisner, lee breuer, fritz perls, walter benjamin, nachman of breslav & shneur zalman of chabbad. this video is a commentary on the 5 hour lecture series which director michael chekhov gave in los angeles in 1955. the lectures are available for you to hear on the net, with the title "michael chekhov: the master classes" and a subtitle "on theater and the art of acting". my main point here is that in essence chekhov is telling actors to do a process directly parallel to that which a gestalt therapy client does when he works on a dream, but instead of focusing on dream images, chekhov has the actor focus on imaginary images of the character he is creating. then gradually the actor's character emerges as a figure from the ground of here and now experience, just as gradually the successive stages of the gestalt dreamwork process emerge as figures from the ground of here and now experience in gestalt therapy. i take the liberty of exploring kabbalistic parallels to these process as they are found in the work of hassidic masters, although neither chekhov nor perls cites jewish sources at all.
the work of other teachers cited in this video is directly relevant to the work of michael chekhov. these include directors sanford meisner and lee breuer, literary critic walter benjamin, and rebbes nachman of breslav and shneur zalman of chabbad. perhaps it is more than coincidental that on the one hand all of these people, including michael chekhov, were jewish, and on the other hand that striking parallels can be found between the ideas which underlie the work of all of them and the ideas which constitute the basis of the kabbalah, i.e., jewish dialectical thinking. of course, most sources relate michael chekhov more to the christianity of rudolf steiner than to the judaism of hassidic rebbes. i will not haggle about historical details in this video. what interests me is the ideas themselves, their interrelationships, and the psychophysical techniques which these teachers pioneered in their work. please see my website, franklynwepner.com, for other videos and essays and email comments directly to me at email@example.com.