It would be interesting to read this book alongside Mamet's "True and False." Chekov's passion for creation and exploration through the imagination, set against Mamet's scorn of invention on the part of the actor. Mamet dismisses the idea that character exists and that an actor can "become" the character. Chekov meditated in order to try and commune with the spirit of the character. Two very different approaches. In spite of the practical application of Chekov's ideas, there is a childlike hunger here for the imaginitive and mysterious that I feel is critical for any artist. We can appreciate that Chekov defied Stanislavski in search of something of his own, and here is perhaps the most interesting point: Chekov's method was deeply personal. He created his own approaches, and took bold risks in doing so. I most enjoyed the descriptions that his book has of how Chekov would create his own characters. That any artist could throw themselves into their work with such interest and abandon is thrilling.
Again my mantra about acting books remains . . . Reading an acting book must be taken inside the context of personal experience of either production or an acting class. I value Checkov for the simple reason that, although he often comes across as nebulous and abstract, he stresses the fantastic and imaginative elements of acting. Escewing working from the emotional inside out Checkov, a veteran of the Moscow Art Theatre, stresses finding the character through imaginative excercises that first engage the external elements of the actor's instrument namely in the creation of fantasy atmospheres and communion with the audience. Building upon Jung's theories of the Universal Archetype, I find Checkov's bit about the psychological gesture and "living statues" most helpful in teaching, acting and directing. In a professional world where gut wrenching, self absorbed displays of therepy induced emotion passes for true acting, I find Checkov's teachings most helpful in inspiring the true reasons many find themselves drawn to the stage: the wonder and excitement of telling an imaginative story.