The Michael Chekhov Acting Technique

Course Dates: July 14 to July 27, 2014
Application Deadline: May 16, 2014

Widely recognized as one of the greatest actors of the 20th century, and considered by Stanislavski to be his “most brilliant student,” Michael Chekhov developed his own psycho-physical approach to acting. The Michael Chekhov Association (MICHA) is the standard bearer of this work in the United States. MICHA, headed by Joanna Merlin will lead this life-changing workshop.

  • Get to know the psycho-physical principles of Michael Chekhov’s Technique.
  • Apply the work to short scenes, situations and text.
  • Develop professionally in a supportive ensemble atmosphere.
  • Gain confidence into your own creative impulses and perceptions.
  • This course will culminate in a public performance of student work.

Undergraduate: DRAMA 420, 3 units
Graduate: DRAMA 620, 3 units


Undergraduate or graduate student actors, professional actors, and anyone wishing to immerse themselves in the acting techniques of Michael Chekhov.

1)      Submit a resume, headshot (or other photograph of yourself), and a short description stating why you would like to take this course.
2)      Send the materials listed in step one with your completed Registration Form to the Summer Arts office by May 16, 2014.

Professor Hugh O’Gorman

Joanna Merlin, a student of Michael Chekhov, is an actor, teacher, and former casting director for Harold Prince, Stephen Sondheim, James Ivory and Bernardo Bertolucci. She is the President of MICHA and a faculty member for 20 years at NYU’s graduate acting program at the Tisch School of the Arts. She made her Broadway debut opposite Laurence Olivier and created the role of Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof. On television she appears on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit as Judge Petrovsky and on Homeland as Grandma Lois. Joanna co-founded the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts and was a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee. Her book, Auditioning: An Actor-Friendly Guide, was published by Vintage in May 2001 and is still in print.

Jessica Cerullo is a performer, teacher, and the Managing Director of MICHA. She is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Whitman College. Her performance work has been supported by the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Seattle’s Studio Current, and Colorado’s Tin Shop Artist Residency. Jessica’s play, Miracle Tomato, premiered at the Solo Nova Festival at PS 122 in New York City. Jessica has performed in a number of regional theatres, is a former member of the Stanislavsky Theatre Studio (now operating as Synetic Theater), and collaborates regularly with The Actors’ Ensemble. She is an actor in MICHA’s Master Classes DVD series and teaches internationally. Jessica received an MFA in Contemporary Performance from Naropa University.

Fern Sloan
An actress for more than 40 years, Fern Sloan is Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of The Actors’ Ensemble, and has performed and taught the Michael Chekhov technique in the US, Canada, and Europe. She was certified by the Michael Chekhov Studio in New York City to teach the work of Michael Chekhov and was on its faculty for the last three years of its existence. She was co-director and on the faculty of the Speech and Drama Program of Sunbridge College. Prior to founding The Actors’ Ensemble, Fern played leading roles in numerous regional theatres in the US and Off-Broadway. Together with Jessica Cerullo, Fern wrote the MICHA Workbook to assist those practically studying the Chekhov technique.

Ragnar Freidank teaches in the Graduate Acting Program of the New School for Drama in New York City and has been on the faculty of Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, Brooklyn College and Marymount Manhattan. He was invited by Michael Howard to work in his studio, where he subsequently taught a weekly scene study class for several years. He was co-artistic director of MICHA’s Master Classes DVD series and directed the award-winning film, Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn, starring Joanna Merlin. Originally from Germany, Ragnar studied the Michael Chekhov Technique in New York with Ted Pugh and Fern Sloan, with whom he has been collaborating in The Actors’ Ensemble for the last 15 years.

Marjo-Riikka Makela
Marjo-Riikka Makela is a director, master teacher, acting coach, and a professional actress. She has specialized in a variety of different acting techniques, is a long-standing member of the Michael Chekhov Association, and has worked extensively with the Michael Chekhov Technique both as an actress and director. Marjo-Riikka received her training at the Russian Academy of Dramatic Arts (GITIS), holds an MFA in Acting from CSU Long Beach, and has extensive stage credits from Europe. Some of Marjo-Riikka’s favorite roles include Medea under the direction of David Bridel, Yelena in Uncle Vanya at the Classic Stage Company in New York, and her work with Sarah Kane and Andrei Malaev-Babel at the Stanislavsky Theatre Studio in Washington, DC. Her directing credits include Shakespeare, Chekhov, Schiller, and devised work. Marjo-Riikka has recently taught at the Stanislavsky Institute, CSU Long Beach, Acting Corps Studios, ActorFest, Chapman University, Loyola Marymount University, The Insurgo Theater Movement, The Actor’s Movement Studio, the INTAR Theater, The Actors’ Gang, University of Southern California, and CalArts MFA program. Marjo-Riikka does weekly private coaching for many successful TV and film actors and actresses. She has coached actors for series such as True Blood, Mad Men, CSI, Californication, The Mentalist, Castle, Nip/Tuck, Alphas, Body of Proof, Ghost Whisperer, Entourage, How I Met your Mother, Bones, Numb3rs , Deadwood, and many more. She has clients around the world, and she has been featured in Backstage, Los Angeles Times, American Theater Magazine, and several major European publications.

Craig Mathers
Craig Mathers studied under Stanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse and received his MFA from Yale Drama School. He also trained at Shakespeare and Company in their month-long intensive and text workshops. Craig has taught acting, both contemporary and classical, at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and at NYU’s Cap 21. He is currently an Associate Professor of Performing Arts at Emerson College where he teaches Chekhov- and Stanislavsky-based approaches, as well as Shakespeare text. Craig is a designated Linklater teacher and a member of MICHA.