Pedagogy & Approach

The Voice Intensive curriculum is rooted in vocal, physical, and image-rich practices that are applied to Shakespearean texts. 

The program is designed to guide participants towards two levels of vocal discovery: self observation of breath, impulse, image, and an unimpeded relationship with scene partners and audiences. 

At the core of the process, each participant is asked to work with the release of the embodied breath, thought, and need of the character. Through observation rather than effort, participants are encouraged to drop reliance on inhibiting patterns, habitual emotional choices and/or physical habits. This allows for a greater range of characterization. 

The Body

The core of the physical curriculum is Syntonics(©) and Embodied Practice(©) developed and taught by Judith Koltai. Syntonics(©) is a process of identifying and releasing habitual physical patterning. It is a re-education of the mind-body response. Embodied Practice(©) is an exploration of the actor’s use of text and the body using personal experience and imagery as source. This practical and specific body work not only urges participants to uncover what their physical patterns are, it permits change to happen on a cellular, muscular level.

Participants also learn detailed anatomy as it applies to the breath channel and the vocal musculature. Anatomy is a study that is covered in both the movement and voice classes, albeit from different but convergent perspectives. Particular attention is paid to alignment and the musculoskeletal relationships involved in standing and moving efficiently. Participants explore the concepts of arrival, presence, breath, and mind-body connection.

The Voice

The Linklater progression begins with the breath, the impulse, and the imagination. The function of the progression is to explore and identify physical and psychological blocks that inhibit full expression. We work simply, from the feet up. The emphasis is on establishing a grounded spine-breath relationship that enables free expression of creative impulse. Participants explore new spaces for breath and existing holding patterns in the musculoskeletal structures of the torso, neck, and head. Specifically, we address resonance through the body and investigate the tongue, tongue root and soft palate.

The new information is folded into specific freeing up of the breath channel and facial resonators. Participants learn to stop listening to their voices but feeling their voices through their bodies. Throughout our explorations, connection to image and the imagination is sustained.

The Image

"Imagery is the language of the body [and] imagination is the language of acting." (Kristin Linklater, Freeing the Natural Voice). The image component of the voice work is interwoven throughout every session. Voice Intensive celebrates metaphors and the imagination. Instructions are given to reacquaint participants with the magic and potential of the word. Participants’ understanding of imagery in relation to cultural and social histories is provided in lectures on archetypes and the Hero’s Journey.

The Text

Shakespeare offers participants language and imagery that is more robust than is often found in contemporary scripts. Participants gain solid artistic tools to improve thought articulation and deepen integration of body, mind, and text. In particular, participants will address:

  • Phonation: IPA and Speaking North American Naturally
  • Rhetoric: Argument and Persuasion
  • Aristotle: Ethos, Logos, Pathos
  • Meaning: Words, ideas, images

In order for true communication to occur, the body, voice, imagination, and relationship must work in unity. Participants work in a deeply supportive, non-competitive safe environment that fosters individual growth and inter-participant learning.