What is the Michael Chekhov Acting Technique?
Though Michael Chekhov first trained under Stanislavski, he felt that the early phases of the Stanislavski system led to acting that was too naturalistic in style. Chekhov endeavored to uncover and teach ways through which actors could tap into their subconscious minds — and the universal experience of humanity — through various exercises. He felt that it was important that actors not limit their characters by drawing from their limited, conscious, worldly experiences. He felt that infinite experiences of humanity were stored in the subconscious mind and could be accessed through physical gestures and other exercises that were seemingly “external” in nature.
Specifically, one way in which Chekhov bridged the gap between the subconscious and the conscious — between the external world and the internal experience that a character was meant to have — was through the use of “Psychological Gesture.” Through this exercise, an actor will physicalize an internal need or emotion through an external gesture. This outward gesture and its accompanying feelings are then drawn back in and internalized.
In short, Chekhov and his students explored the connections between the body/physical expressions and emotions/psychological states.
Revised -- Original content courtesy of Top Hollywood Acting Coach