Excerpt of the book “To The Actor”, by Michael Chekhov

It is evening. After a long day, after much work and many impressions, experiences, actions and words – you let your tires nerves rest. You sit quietly with your eyes closed. What is it that appears out of the darkness before your mind’s eye? You review the faces of people you’ve met during the day, their voices, movements, their characteristic of humorous features. You run again through the streets, past familiar houses, read the signs. Passively, you follow the motley of images of your memory. 

Unnoticed by yourself you step back over the boundaries of today, and in your imagination slowly arise visions of your past life. Your forgotten and half-remembered wishes, daydreams, life’s aims, successes and failures appear as pictures before your mind. True, they are not so faithful to the facts as recollections of the day just passed. Now they are, in retrospect, slightly changed. But you still recognize them. With your mind’s eye, you now follow them with greater interest, with more awakened attention, because they are changed, because they now bear some traces of imagination. 

But much more happens. Out of the visions of the past, there flash here and there images totally unknown to you! They are pure products of your Creative Imagination. They appear, disappear, they come back again, bringing with them new strangers. Presently they enter in relationships with one another. They begin to “act”, to “perform” before your fascinated gaze. You follow their heretofore unknown lives. You are absorbed, drawn into strange moods, atmosphere, into the love, hatred, happiness and unhappiness of these imaginary guests. 

Your mind is now fully awake and active. Your reminiscences grow paler and paler; the new images are stronger than they. You are amused by the fact that these new images possess their own independent lives; you are astonished that they appear without your invitation. Finally, these newcomers force you to watch them with greate poignancy than the simple pictures of everyday memory; these fascinating guests, who made their appearance from nowhere, who live their own lives full of emotions, awaken your responsible feelings. 

They force you to laugh and cry with them. Like magicians, they call up in you an unconquerable desire to become one of them. You enter into conversations with them, you now see yourself among them; you want to act, and you do so. From a passive state of mind, the images have uplifted you to a creative one. 

Such is the power of imagination. 

In our age, humanity is inclined to forget that to progress culturally, life, and especially the arts, must be permeated with all kinds of intangible powers and qualities; that what is tangible, visible and audible, is but a small part of our optimum existence and has little claim upon posterity.