Voice and speech training today is a far cry from the elocution training of the 19th century with its cookie cutter, perfectly shaped vowels and predetermined patterns of inflection. Today’s training does not uphold a single “standard” for all actors to learn (except perhaps a standard of vocal health and safety.) Rather, today’s voice and speech training provides tools for freeing the actor’s instrument and expanding the actor’s expressiveness. It is not considered separate from actor training but instead a means of evoking performances that are rich in clarity, variety, spontaneity, emotional and intellectual expressiveness and safe for the actor’s instrument. This type of training directs the actor’s awareness to the sensation of the ever-changing moment and so keeps him in the moment with this point of focus.
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Voice and speech training has long been a part of the fabric of actor training and the training of those whose task it has been to persuade through the voice: primarily actors, politicians, lawyers, and other public speakers. Voice and Speech Training in the New Millennium is a collection of interviews with 24 of today’s leading voice and speech teachers, each of whom has contributed to the advancement of the field and made today’s training a cutting edge component of actor training. Included are interviews with master teachers Richard Armstrong, Cicely Berry, Patsy Rodenburg, Kristin Linklater, Catherine Fitzmaurice, Dudley Knight, Robert Barton, Rocco DalVera, Natsuko Ohama, Nancy Krebs, Bonnie Raphael, Susan Sweeney, Fran Bennett, Louis Colaianni, Nancy Houfek, Jan Gist, Andrea Haring, Saul Kotzubei, Robert Neff Williams, Andrew Wade, David Carey, Phil Thompson, Deb Kinghorn, and Gillian Lane-Plescia. Amidst their similarities and differences in approach is a unified spirit and acknowledgment that voice work is of fundamental importance to the actor’s training process and has the potential to resonate profoundly with the actor and with the audience.