Psychological Gestures as sculptures by Aileen Crow

The Censor

Pathology / Catastrophic Expectations

Party Girl

Left/Right; Rebel/Delight

I got very excited reading Mark Coleman’s piece about his theatrical combination of Michael Chekhov’s Psychological Gesture and Focusing with his personal invention of Authentic Movement. It brought back to me my experiences as an actress when I was a member of an acting company that studied Chekhov’s work and did those exercises and psychological gestures. It’s also exciting to me to see how all that is still present in me in the form of the small sculptures that I make of the dream figures who come to me in my authentic movement. (And who speak to me via focusing.) I see that each of the figurines represents the essential movements of one of my many partial selves distilled into a psychological gesture.

Above are three photos and a drawing, only a few of the more than forty figurines I have made.

Martha said...

I totally love these! They add so much to the site and to the whole discussion. Thank-you!

Sunday, August 17, 2008 11:06:00 AM EDT

Mark said...

Aileen, I very often describe PGs to Chekhov novices in my workshops/rehearsals as "moving sculptures". I agree with Martha: these are truly extraordinary pieces of work, Aileen.

Monday, August 25, 2008 4:35:00 PM EDT

Michael Chekhov Psychological Gestures

by Mark Coleman

I am an actor/theatre director/drama teacher who recently stumbled across Authentic Movement through my interest in Eugene Gendlin's Focusing, after I recently came across some very illuminating articles about movement on the internet which drew parallels between the two methodologies. One was Barbara Chutroo’s Meet Your Body,
( )

I am new to the idea of AM, but I think I have been using it for a number of years without being aware of it, in my synthesis of Michael Chekhov's Psychological Gesture (PG) techniques with Focusing. I was immediately struck by the congruity of the creative/performance applications of Chekhov's PG & Focusing with the Authentic Movement process.

Chekhov taught actors what he called the Psychological Gesture: “the embodied essence of the character” which would condense the intricate psychology of a character into a powerful, clear and simple movement; an organic, moving metaphor.”

Of course, both Focusing and Chekhov’s exercises are psycho – physical processes and have much in common with Authentic Movement as I see it. All three connect the inner life to a communication with the body, which is really the essence of acting, it seems to me. All three techniques seek pathways by which the heart and soul can be fully em-bodied and in-corporated, the inner made outer, the invisible made visible.

I would love to know if anyone else out there has any experience of the extraordinary complementarity of these three techniques, particularly when applied to the actor’s creative process.

copyright 2008

Betina said...

I have just read Mark Coleman's text and also Aileen Crow's comments on acting as an experience of embodying for communication. I have worked as an actress for 20 years in a group with a deep commitment to investigation. I have been practising AM for 13 years. Now I teach in an acting studio in Spain and have been using AM as a powerful resource for investigating and deepening the actor's relationship with the material being worked (characters, text, author, period, space). Although I am familiar with M Chekov's technique and with Focusing, in my work with actors I have concentrated my interest in Authentic Movement and in other expressive movement techniques ( I feel very stimulated with the possibility of exchanging more about this! Thank you. Betina Waissman

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 2:03:00 PM EDT

Anonymous rebecca vernooy said...

Hi from Ohio University. Nice to say "hello" to my fellow movers, and touch base with this community. I have been doing Authentic Movement for over twenty years, and teaching Movement for Actors for over a decade.

Responding to Mark Colemen's discovery of aligning AM with Psychological Gesture....My currculum for Movement for Actors is based in AM, and incorporates several somatic methodologies. I have also seen the similarities between AM and Chekov's PG.

when working with text and character, I guide the acting students into a sesion of AM. They allow a movement/gesture to emerge that feels intuitively right for the person they are to embody. After refining the gesture, and making it specific, the movement becomes an anchor. It can be one in a series (ie: for a monologue or within a scene)or it can be a physical "emotional prepartation". The result from this way of working is the same as Psychological Gesture. It is the approach that might be different.

I have found that the initial, intuitive movement impulse that the actor uncovers connects that person to a "character" in a very visceral, raw and dynamic way. When they get lost or in "their head", they can immediately return to the body via the original gesture/movement anchor. It makes for very truthful and embodied acting.

I have written alot about AM and acting training, and will be writing about aligning AM and Chekov's work in the near future (my plans for an article on the subject had to be postponed since I am trying to balance life with my seven week old and my academic, creative life).

I can be contacted at, and welcome any inquiries.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 3:09:00 PM EDT

Requesting a French connection

Catherine Drum Scherer (Spokane, Washington)

Dear Ones,

I will be visiting my daughter in Paris from Dec 13, 2008 -Jan 2, 2009, and would relish a connection with someone there who is practicing Authentic Movement...



© 2008 Catharine Drum Scherer