Cycles of creation

Michael Chekhov and the Yinyang Wuxing cosmology

Authored by: Daniel Mroz

The Routledge Companion to Michael Chekhov

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415710183
eBook ISBN: 9781315716398
Adobe ISBN: 9781317506867


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As actors seek out increasingly diverse training opportunities, approaches to the artist’s body and imagination from different eras, cultures, and disciplines come in contact with one another. In order to fruitfully unpack such fortuitous encounters, it is helpful to understand how the worldviews implicit in seemingly similar methods both resemble each other and differ practically and conceptually. This chapter examines the potentially fertile relationships between Michael Chekhov’s practical work with the actor’s body and imagination and the Yinyang Wuxing cosmology which underpins the Chinese art of Qigong that I have employed as one of the cornerstones of my performing, directing, and teaching since 1993. In what follows I present the Yinyang Wuxing cosmology and the worldview that produced it. I use this cosmology to build a relationship between the acting exercises Chekhov proposed in his published works and the energetic, physical, and imaginal 1 exercises drawn from Qigong that I use in my own work as a theatre artist. 2 My overall objective is to introduce readers to the Yinyang Wuxing cosmology, an unusual and rarely developed theoretical model, while offering them a detailed systemic analysis of physical and imaginal performance techniques from two different cultures. Much of the traditional Chinese cultural material I present comes from the oral transmissions of my martial arts, Qigong, Daoist, and Buddhist teachers and from my direct experience as a student of traditional Chinese culture; I supplement these teachings with more conventional textual citations where appropriate.

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