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Afterword

My first response is actually one of caution: there’s no doubt he was a man of genius, and as with all geniuses there’s an element of inspiration which will always remain ungraspable by the rest of us. Added to which he was a highly sensitive individual who responded very personally to the political and social upheaval of the first half of the twentieth century, which is hardly surprising! The fact that his driving mission to set up an ‘ideal’ theatre was repeatedly toppled by one global event after another – hounded out of Soviet Russia, troubled in Latvia and Lithuania, curtailed at Dartington Hall in England and Connecticut in the USA – is a kind of thwarting hard to imagine in our own entrepreneurial times. Yet while my initial reaction to the autobiographies may be one of caution – ‘Well, he was in a category of his own, so how can we possibly emulate him?’ – I’m also perfectly aware from my own work, as well as the expanding global network of centres and workshops studying Michael Chekhov, that assimilation of his ideas is unquestionably possible and holistically feasible. In this Afterword, I want to draw out a few biographical threads which endorse Chekhov’s acting principles and illustrate how workable and organic they actually are.