Graham Dixon, 2008,
Summer Intensive Workshop
Graham Dixon’s interview:
Where do you come from?
….I was born in Sydney, Australia, just after the end of the second World War, February 1945, and ever since I was three, I remember when someone asked me, What are you going do when you grow up ? I said I was going to be an actor. Where it came from, I have no idea….
….I started at a Drama school in Sydney, there were no degrees in acting then, and certainly no University training, that all came much later. I was fortunate enough to work in a Working Theatre that had a Drama School attached to it, not that we did many classes of a particular system, but actually, if you could say your lines, not bump into the furniture and have a certain ability, you were brought into the company, not paid, but you worked with professional actors, it was like a Theatre Apprenticeship, that was a wonderful training ….
What brought you to Micheal Chekhov?
….I was really conscious that my vocal work wasn’t strong enough, so someone suggested that I go to a speech teacher. A little later, I realised that she had worked with Michael Chekhov at Dartington Hall. When Michael Chekhov started Dartington Hall, in the mid-thirties, he wanted someone to work in a particular way with the Speech and the Eurythmy work…. So I met Alice Crowther, I was seventeen, she was in her early seventies, and as soon as I met her, I realised this was the way I wanted to work….
How did you come to Teaching?
….In the early seventies I had a job in Stuttgart at a Steiner School, doing Shakespeare with the Upper School students, they were German, and we did it in English, which was surprising. I’d never directed or taught before. I wanted to work with these non-actors, who were studying Shakespeare for their English Class in performance, but I really wanted to get them to certain basic exercises, so I developped a lot of exercises, that I still do now in my work….
….the Michael Chekhov Studio London officialy started in 2005 when Mala Powers came to London from Los Angeles. As a young actor in Hollywood, Mala worked with Chekhov as his student. She was also the executrix of his literary estate. When the MCUK published “The Path of the actor”, Mala came to launch that book, and at the same time I officialy started the Michael Chekhov Studio London as well as touring at the same time….
….Out of my teaching work, I really began to see that I wanted to write a book, in fact I did, and the book is about a four days workshop with twelve participants, and the book is called “The Master Key to Acting Freedom”….
GRAHAM DIXON - Director of the MCSL
Graham has been involved in Michael Chekhov work as a professional actor, director and teacher for nearly 50 years having studied with and met many of Chekhov's original students. He is recognized internationally as one of the most important teachers in this approach to acting.
He first trained and worked professionally as an actor in Sydney, Australia, where he studied voice and speech with Alice Crowther - Chekhov’s speech and eurythmy teacher in England and USA. Contact with Alice and later with the acting method of Chekhov brought an awareness of the inner nature of the actor’s craft: this interest has been the leitmotif throughout his professional life.
Graham furthered his training in Rudolf Steiner’s Creative Speech Method (taught by Alice) at the Goetheanum in Switzerland and The London School of Speech Formation. This was followed by three years’ work as a theatre director of Shakespeare plays and devised works with young people in Germany.
Returning to Australia, he started his own theatre company, Dionysia Productions, and produced Henry IV, Part 1 in 1980/82. Since then, he has been active in directing, writing and performing for his company, which has toured Australia, the UK and Europe with imagination-based fairytale and Shakespeare programs. In 1984 he returned to Europe and was a co-founder of the Michael Chekhov Centre UK (MCCUK), now known as Michael Chekhov UK (MCUK).
In 2003, Graham founded the Michael Chekhov Studio London (MCSL) in England and continues to offer workshops and classes in the UK, in Europe and USA. Actor and author, Simon Callow is the MCSL patron (formerly Mala Powers, Chekhov’s executrix). Like Michael Chekhov, Graham has an interest in the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and his Anthroposophy (Spiritual Science)
Is There Another Way?
Many of the practices available to actors and directors are based upon ‘closed systems’ that look inside one’s own psychology to create a character and to find feelings.
Chekhov’s approach is different. It is an ‘open system’ that enables the actor to ‘tap into’ or access directly an objective creative world using a heightened ability to imagine and sense. And the resultant feelings, thoughts and will impulses will be natural and unforced and true - and joyous!
I started the Michael Chekhov Studio London as a means to give actors and directors an opportunity to access and explore Michael Chekhov’s unique approach to the art of acting and to meet the growing number of student and professional actors who are looking for answers to the question: ‘Is there another way?’
• Is it possible to balance the demands of a quickening, fast-paced and competitive profession with ones inner striving and ideals as an actor?
• Is it possible to aspire to be a theatre, television and film actor and continue to preserve your artistic integrity?
• Are modern actors compelled to play only to type or is it possible to transform ourselves into “something other”?
Theatre of the Future
And I really believe that the ‘Theatre of the Future’ is created not in some far distant time but every time an actor working in an ensemble connects with his higher creative self and, with the audience, enters into the space of ‘Inspired Acting’.
I don’t see the MCSL just offering courses and workshops. It is not my aim to start another Drama School. I hope it will become a ‘living space’ where we can study and explore, perform and learn, and all work together to help bring about what I call ‘TheTheatre of the NOW’.
If you have questions about whether Chekhov’s approach would meet you present needs, or simply would like more information about what the MCSL offers, then do contact me and we can have a chat on the telephone.