Is it ever too late?

I was at the shopping mall today, buying a birthday present for my son, and having my laptop resuscitated. I happened to mention to the young man (they’re all young to me…) who was attending to me that I was working on a thesis, and he asked me what it was about. I said “a theory of the voice in performance”, expecting the customary response of “wow! how interesting”, followed by a glazed expression behind the eyes and a rapid retreat. “Wow!” he said, “how interesting.” But instead of glazing and retreating, he asked: “You mean the tone, the pitch of the voice?” “No,” I replied. “We know about the tone and the pitch, the emphasis, the pace, the speech tune. But when an actor performs a text, there’s something else that the voice can do that isn’t explained by those things.”

He asked me what I meant, so I explained how an actor is required to sound authentic and engaging every time he repeats a text, and although he might be able to repeat the same tone, pitch, emphasis, pace and tune each time, unless the ‘something else’ that I am attempting to theorize is present, he will not sound either authentic or engaging.

The young man was not only interested, but understood what I was talking about, so I asked him if he were an actor. He said no, but gradually admitted that years ago he had thought of applying to NIDA, but it didn’t happen, and now – at the age of thirty – it was too late.

Well!  As you can imagine, I gave him The Talk, insisting that it was never Too Late, that Theatre was too important to be left up to people who just wanted to be famous, and it was the duty of people (such as himself) who were passionate about live performance to get involved.  Acting academies such as NIDA like to take in a couple of ‘mature’ students each year, it enhances the mixture and gives them more options when they are casting the student productions they need to put before the public to help justify their funding.

Acting is about talent, but it is also about training and commitment. A good actor understands that acting is a process, not a goal, and training is an essential, on-going part of the process.

I don’t believe it’s ever too late to start working on something new. Of course, at different stages of our lives we have different challenges. But some things never change. It is always scary to step out into the unknown. Most of us assume that everyone else is ‘better’ or ‘wiser’ or ‘prettier’ or ‘more talented’ than we are. Learning that such assumptions are not just unhelpful, they are actually entirely irrelevant is one of the greatest lessons we can ever learn.

a selection of Quantum Clowns
Image by flloyd2010 via Flickr

Training means changing. Since we are constantly changing, as long as we are alive, why not take advantage of it, and change in a direction that gives us satisfaction?  I am looking forward to undertaking some training myself in January, for three weeks, in Ira Seidenstein’s Quantum Clown Residency.  I know I will have to pace myself, that I can’t expect to keep up physically with what the younger participants will be able to accomplish, but by golly I will be challenging myself to change more than a few electrons and particles of fun!

(photo: A Selection of Quantum Clowns)

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Onwards and Upwards

It’s that time of the year again, the time of reflection and readjustment as we dive into the festivities, and prepare to emerge after the new year with enthusiasm for whatever wonders it may bring.


This year has been a cracker, as most of my family, friends and colleagues have noted. It shot by most of us in a haze of sparkling sulphur, whirling us giddily into a spin of delight, confusion and exhaustion. Was I really there? Did I do that? Were you there when it happened?   I feel I need someone else to validate this past year for me, it was so rich and yet so fleeting.

Being in Voice, The Acting Class had an extraordinary year, with some students continuing on from last year, new students joining the pool, and visits from past students adding to the richness of the mixture.  We finally got to perform, as a student ensemble, when the BitsFestival gave us the opportunity to present our ten minute show The Sonneteers.

I am now planning for next year’s Class, with e-flyers scheduled to go out over the weekend (after I recover from the Christmas Prawns). The Class will begin on Sunday 7th February, and we will be getting very up close and personal with our voices from the word ‘go’. As usual, I am struggling to find ways of explaining what we do in terms that make sense to anyone who hasn’t worked with us before. Why does it seem to hard to communicate how working on the voice is actually working on your whole fabulous self? Why is it so difficult to explain that actor training involves learning a host of techniques and skills, and they all involve the voice? As you can see, I’m still working on my thesis…

So I’ll just say that working on your voice means developing your creative potential, and keeping yourself physically and vocally fit at the same time.  It means honing your craft as an actor, as you acquire new skills and techniques and gain experience in performing with other creative individuals.

I’ve received some wonderful testimonials from the students, and I’m looking forward to working with Paula and Shikhara again in 2010. All our very best wishes go to those who have moved on, to Jean Marc out there on the Rig, and to Tegan in Melbourne, to Robert who will be working on his amazing new project (congratulations on getting accepted by the Metro Independents Program!).  David will be coming back, but this time officially as my assistant teacher.

Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful festive season, I hope you find yourself on the other side of Hogmanay rested and relaxed, ready to face another year of fireworks and crackers, all of them exploding creatively with love and peace.

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Come join me at The Big Sing! on THE MODERN

The #1 Community for Singers on the Web!
Flloyd Kennedy Flloyd Kennedy Flloyd Kennedy has invited you to the event ‘The Big Sing!’ on THE MODERN!

Apologies for cross posting.

It would be wonderful if you and your friends and colleagues could join us for a day of joyful sounding!

With all good wishes

The Big Sing! Time: February 6, 2010 from 9:30am to 4pm
Location: to be advised
Organized By: Being in Voice with Flloyd Kennedy

Event Description:
A one-day workshop for everyone who ever wanted to explore their vocal potential, or just play with their voices in a truly non-judgmental environment.

We will spend the morning warming up our bodies and our voices, getting to know our voices from the inside out in the nicest possible way. After a relaxing luncheon, we will play with our voices, improvising with pure vocal sound, and invent our own unique massed voice symphony.

You don’t have to be a ‘singer’ to make music in a crowd. Come and join us as we


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Yes, we make funny noises!

It’s true, when we work on our voices, we make sounds we wouldn’t normally make in the course of our everyday lives. That’s because we are extending our range, broadening our capacity, developing our potential. It doesn’t make sense to just sound the way we usually do, after all, that is why we are training in the first place.  And of course, we use our bodies to do it.

So, here is a short film of some of the Being in Voice Acting Class students, generously sharing their process with you as they did some of their own individual warm up in class last week. Mostly they are exploring Fitzmaurice Voicework exercises, but there are other influences present also. Then you will see them playfully exploring some particular Archetypal qualities.

The Acting Class 20 Sept


Wanna be an Actor? or wannabee actor?

Here are some excellent tips for how to present yourself at auditions.  The tipster is Ken Davenport, a highly respected off-Broadway theatre producer.

The Producer’s Perspective

Ken makes the point that many people think they are actors, but there are very few Actors around. The difference is not in the level of talent or training, but in the level of professionalism and commitment that is brought to the process.

I shouldn’t be surprised, or shocked any more at the care-less attitudes I hear about among actors, but I can’t help being hurt when I come across them. Yes, foolish as it sounds, I actually care so much about Theatre that I feel personally offended when I come across examples of disrespect towards it.

Recently I heard about some students (on a respected University degree course) who decided they didn’t need to participate in group assignment work, because they were ‘going to New York’, presumably to find opportunities to let down even more colleagues. Actually, they are in for a very rude awakening if they do make it to the Big Apple hoping to get into a drama college, or to make it on Broadway.

Those of us who care about theatre, and who work to create theatre that is engaging and provocative, entertaining and refreshing, we know that it doesn’t happen without a great deal of hard work, sacrifice, love and patience. It requires people to arrive at rehearsals on time, and to stay till the rehearsal is finished; to take regular classes (arriving at those on time also); to audition over and over without getting frustrated with the auditioners; to put up with boring paid work in order to survive while doing soul-sustaining unpaid work, and to REFUSE to be involved in unpaid work that is not creatively satisfying – because it is not true that any stage work is better than none.  It is bad enough when shallow, mediocre work is presented on our mainhouse, funded stages: we don’t need to add to the agony by dropping our standards to the lowest common demoninator.  This applies whether you are an actor looking for work, or a director looking for actors. Be choosy, be selective, make sure you know the difference between an Actor, and a wannabee.

Oh, I could rant on – and I do – but I guess I’m ‘preaching to the converted’ anyway. So, good on ya! Carry on fighting the good fight! Let’s make some cracking good theatre, together, soon…