How to act Chekhov

Although there aren’t many playwrights who can be called a style,’ Chekhov is one. While I don’t advocate playing style, I believe it is important first to understand the rules. Here are my key elements of acting Chekhov.

Chekhov’s Approach to Actors

We’ll start with subtext and then move on to the main areas we must focus on as actors.


Noun. The implicit or symbolic meaning of (as in a literary text).

The subtext is the first thing I think of when I think about Chekhov. The subtext is everywhere. The subtext is everywhere, from indie-darling short films to Shakespeare. Some people would argue that Shakespeare is not subtext. I want to point those people in Iago’s direction, one of Shakespeare’s greatest villains. But that’s another story. Anyway…

The subtext is an essential part of storytelling. Subtext tells what’s happening below the surface. What is going on in a character’s head? Or what they are trying to accomplish. The subtext is widely used, and Chekhov was obsessed with it. Human beings lie. We lie for many reasons. Not all of them are good ones. For example, we lie to ourselves to comfort our loved ones or maintain peace. We lie for any reason. It’s that simple.

Dear reader, the main message is that the subtext of a Chekhov work should always be in your mind. Most people should approach the role from where truth is your guide. It would be best if you still were looking for the subtext of your character’s head. This will reveal who your characters are, their real goals, and how they intend to achieve them.

Chekhov’s world is full of subtext. It is filled to the rafters by characters who barely keep their true thoughts, feelings, and plans under their thin veneers of etiquette. This brings us to the next point…


Noun. The conduct or procedure that is required by good breeding or prescribed or ordered by the authority to be observed during social or official life

While not all productions of Chekhov’s plays will be set in Russia’s 19th Century, it is important to remember that these people were born and raised in a particular time and place. They dress in certain ways and have certain rituals that they would have followed in their daily lives. Their unique snapshot of history shows how they dressed. These are important things to consider when looking at these texts.

Read: The Best Chekhov Plays


Noun. The quality or condition of being human; human nature.

It is easy to fall into a playing style when all this is said. It is important to consider it, but only in the context of helping you tell the story about the people you are portraying. These characters are just like us at our core. They share our hopes, dreams, and struggle just as we do. Their struggles are no different from mine. They lie, love, cheat and help others. Every one of these characters has a core: a person. It is just as important to discover who they are underneath their outer expressions than it is to portray the etiquette in their world.


Noun. Also known as the storyline. The plan, scheme, or main story in a literary or dramatic work such as a novel, play, or short story.

Spoiler alert! There is more than one type of kind, but it is possible to have both. Let me explain. Let me explain. It is true that “Chekhov doesn’t have a plot” is one way of looking at it. Another way to look at it is to perform a Chekhov play and study the character. All you have to do is take on the role of that character and share their emotions. This is the story. This is the story of the characters’ emotional journeys and their reactions to the trials of life. You can identify the emotional thread of your character, and then you will know what your plot is.


Noun. A relationship between two people that is emotional or has other characteristics.

We have now identified that an emotional journey is an important part of the journey of a Chekhov character. What is the story behind your characters’ arcing? The other characters. We all know how annoyed we get when our housemates don’t clean up after themselves or leave their stuff around the house. Imagine that your partner isn’t as passionate about you as you are. Plus, it would be best to have a gun duel at dawn with the person who truly wants to marry you. You would probably feel pretty disappointed. You would probably be Baron Tuzenbach of Three Sisters.

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