Joerg Andrees: Having good technique makes a person a good actor

Veteran theatre practitioner, Joerg Andrees is currently in Nepal. Andrees, a native of Germany, arrived in Nepal to conduct a 10-day-long theoretical exhibition on Michael Chekhov’s dramatical theory. The exhibition which kicked off on March 30 has 25 participants who are theatre practitioners. 

Andrees is a co-founder of the Michael Chekhov International Academy (MCIA) and is the director of its Intensive Training Programme in the Chekhov Technique. This programme is designed to advance participants towards achieving certification as teachers of the Michael Chekhov Technique. 

Andrees’s expertise as a tutor of the Michael Chekhov Method has garnered international recognition. He has conducted workshops in various countries, including the Eugene O’Neill Centre, USA; Cardiff University, Wales; School of Speech and Drama, Australia; The Orff-Institute, Austria and Southampton, USA. 

In a conversation with Onlinekhabar, Andrees talked about various sides of Michael Chekhov’s acting technique. 


For how long have you been practising Michael Chekhov’s techniques?

For me, it started nearly 40 years ago and this was a journey, of course until now and it is an interesting thing.

How did you get introduced to Michael Chekov’s acting technique? 

I grew up in East Germany. I worked in the film industry of East Germany. For some reason, I stepped out of the film industry and later met an American actor in East Germany. He asked me about Chekov because he believed we in East Germany knew about Chekov because Russia is Chekov’s country and East Germany was connected. But, I didn’t have any idea about Chekov. I had never heard about him before.

So that American friend brought a book about Chekov to me and then I started to read it. I was very much impressed with the book. I was immediately influenced by the training I got from the book. The influence of the training not only affected my body but also my sensations. And I invited my friends, actors and actresses and taught them what I learned from the book. I became more curious to learn further about Chekov’s training.

Then I decided to go to West Berlin. I worked there to earn some money to go to the US to study Michael Chekov’s techniques at Michael Chekhov Acting Studio in New York. I did it. In the US, I did an intensive program in Chekhov’s technique. After completing my studies in the US, I returned to Berlin. There I met a leader of a little private theatre. We began to work together. He was also connected with the Chekhov technique. So we developed the work together with other actors. 

Joerg Andrees

Can you also tell us about the changes observed among the participants who take the classes on Michale Chekhov’s acting technique? 

The changes can be observed in two directions, one change can be seen in acting and another change can be observed in the acting process where the actor will feel more joy, freedom and inspiration. The actors transform and develop themselves. 

Chekhov’s technique provokes you to not act on stage as you are in daily life. It teaches actors to transform themselves. However, you have freedom if you want to do it or not. You can have a beer and go on stage. There is no problem. But if you want to develop yourself and give a different art to the audience, there is Chekhov’s technique for you. 

How can someone learn Chekhov’s acting technique if they do not have any guide?

Every actor who has an interest in Chekhov’s technique can find a book about it. But as most of them are in English, the actors first need to learn English. The actor can also check my workshops, courses and classes. 

Can Michael Chekhov’s technique be learned in 10 days? 

No, you can’t learn it in 10 days. No way. But I can give you a clear idea, concept and steps about the technique. You need to follow them in your home, for at least half an hour a day. After one year you will see a change in yourself. 

What makes a person a good actor?

Having good technique makes a person a good actor. What makes a house builder a good house builder? A good technique and tools and a way to use it. If he does not have a good tool or material he can’t be a good builder, the house he made will be destroyed after the first storm. A good house builder and an actor is such a person, creating a character, who has to have good tools. For an actor, the tools are not a hammer or wood, but it means their own body, soul, movement, imagination and relationship with themselves.  

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Prasun Sangroula is an Onlinekhabar correspondent, mainly covering arts, society and sports.

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