Real and Virtual Travel Adventures

Vivid Festival of Light, with Rob Christmas

Vivid Festival of Light, with Rob Christmas

I’ve just returned from a 3 days trip to Sydney, the first time I’ve been there for quite a few years.  It came about because of an invitation to run two workshops for the NSW Speech and Drama Association‘s annual seminar.  They wanted to sample my warmup programs for themselves, so that was the first session.  For the second one, they gave me free range, so I chose to work with them on Shakespeare cue scripts. They also very generously invited me to spend the whole two days with them, joining in all of their activities, including lunches at Bill & Tony’s, dinner at the Pullman Hotel, and a lovely wander down to the Harbour to see the last night of the Vivid Festival of Light.

What a Delightful Bunch of People!

I’m now back in Brisbane with a serious mission to complete my thesis revisions in the next fortnight, raise enough money to pay for my trip to LA to study Knight-Thompson Speech and Accent work, and to visit Seattle to catch up with my family, and my Seattle buddies in theatre and voice.

The App is doing well, with two fantastic reviews so far in the Australia App Store, and one in the US store.

Great app! ★★★★★

by GEAHSIA – Version 1.02 – Jun 8, 2013

This app is so easy to use, all instructions are very clear and are available visually and verbally. Great explanations of how the voice works and why vocal health is important. You could easily incorporate the mini vocal warm up into your everyday routine. Would be fantastic for teachers to use in class and for actors or directors to use in rehearsal.

A must have app! ★★★★★

by Lindaloo23 – Version 1.02 – Jun 6, 2013

Fantastic app! A great way to discipline myself to do regular vocal warm ups. Flloyd Kennedy makes working on your voice easy and effective – so no excuses! Every singer, actor, chorister, academic and teacher should have this on their phone!

Great app for vocal warm ups!!! ★★★★★

by Courtney Young – Version 1.02 – Jun 5, 2013

I love this app! It’s instruction is clear, concise, and the warm ups are perfect for maintaining vocal health. I would recommend this app to anyone!

Bessie the clown is also agitating for a few moments in the sun before too long, so I’ll be loping along to the Brisbane Clown Jam sessions on a Sunday evening at the Stores Building, Powerhouse. See you there, perhaps?

App Goes Public

I am so happy to announce that the Being in Voice Warmup App is now officially on sale in the App Store, for iPhone and iPad, at the grand price of $0.99.

 This is an excellent vocal warmup app, created by my good friend and colleague, Flloyd Kennedy. I recommend it highly. Amy Stoller – Stoller System, LLC: Dialect Coaching & Design by Amy Stoller; resident dialect designer, occasional dramaturge at Mint Theater Company, New York. 

I’ve received excellent feedback from early downloaders, and made a few changes as a result. You can now click straight through to the Warmups from the Home Page.  There will be more short Warmups added as time goes by. Once you have purchased and downloaded the App, upgrades will automatically be yours for free.

I love this app! Courtney Young, Voice and Text Coach at Houston Shakespeare FestivalDefault

Do let me know how you find it.  I am very keen to have this the most user-friendly, useful warmup app you can find. It’s not meant to be a replacement for on the floor training, it’s an introduction to voice work for beginners, a handy tool for experienced speakers and singers to warmup and tone up the voice on a regular basis, and a simple way to warmup prior to presenting, rehearsing or performing.

Please spread the word. Share on Facebook and Twitter. Encourage your colleagues and your students to try it out. I am confident they will find it useful and fun.

I love your app, but now I want more. thanks. I’ve been doing it myself. I suspect that’s a strong recommendation in itself.  Marya Lowry, Associate Professor of Theater Arts, Brandeis University, resident actor/teacher with Actors’ Shakespeare Project.


ps: If you don’t have an iPhone or iPad, but would like to download some of the exercises, you can purchase them separately here.

Warming Up for Winter

Audio with timer

Audio with timer

Brisbane is cooling down, but I’m warming up my mission to get the world warming up its voice!

This week my students at Film & TV Studio International  joined me in Ira Seidenstein’s Core Mechanics before the actual class began, so we were able to launch ourselves straight into the Humming Warmup. This is a great way to bring voice and body into alignment and focus while literally warming up when the weather is cold.  Within ten minutes we had filled the studio with the most gorgeous warm sound, after which we explored some fabulous gurning faces and voices, courtesy of Dudley Knight’s “Speaking With Skill”.

I’m still dreaming of attending the Knight-Thompson two week intensive workshop in Los Angeles in August this year, working on accents and dialects. In particular, I can’t wait to learn Omnish.

In the meantime, the Warmup App is doing well, nearly 150 downloads so far!  I’m going to include the Humming Warmup in the next upgrade. The current version has been edited to include a navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, and a timer to show how long each audio file will last.

You can download it here: Being in Voice – Flloyd Kennedy

And then don’t forget to send me some feedback so that I can keep improving it. A warmed up voice is capable of creating magic. Let’s all become Vocal Wizards!

 

I Talk of Dreams

R&J dancing

Michael Croome (Romeo) and Flloyd Kennedy (Juliet) rehearsing for Full Circle Theatre’s production of Ben Power’s “A Tender Thing”

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on”, says Prospero, in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  I have a good friend, a very experienced Shakespearean actor, who would happily change that to “made of”, claiming that otherwise nobody understands what it means. I disagree, for more reasons than I care to enumerate.  But I will say this, we ARE such stuff as dreams are made on, we have imaginations, we thrive on metaphors and fables, fiction and mystery.

We constantly adjust the way we use words; we invent new words and new ways of using old words.  We hear someone speaking words we’ve never heard before, and we figure out for ourselves what they might mean long before it occurs to ask us to ask for clarification. Of course, this often leads to misunderstandings. It’s why two people sitting in an audience will come away with very different ideas about what a particular performance might be about.

This brings me back to Shakespeare.  There is a very good reason why many, many people believe that his language is obscure, obtuse and difficult.  It’s because their experience of Shakespeare is that of hearing it spoken in a manner that is obscure, obtuse and difficult.  Those of us who have a different experience of Shakespeare can argue till we are blue in our faces that it isn’t Shakespeare that’s the problem, but until you hear his language spoken by someone who actually knows what they are doing with it, you probably won’t believe us.

So what is that “knowing what you are doing” when it comes to performing Shakespeare? What is the secret, the mystical truth that will blow it apart and make it accessible?  I can tell you this for nothing: it’s not about leaping about the stage (or screen), creating astonishing visual images with the actors’ bodies, or with outrageously expensive sets and costumes – although I don’t mind if you do that too. But that will not make the text any more easy to understand, although it might keep the audience entertained while the text rumbles incomprehensibly on.R&J 02 (1 of 1)

No, the answer is a lot cheaper than that.  It lies within the actors’ gift. The actors’ task is take the time and trouble to understand exactly what they are saying – not ‘sort of’, or ‘kind of’, or even ‘understand the gist of’ what they are saying, but specifically and precisely KNOW why they choose those exact words to express themselves in that situation at that moment.  In other words, Shakespearean language functions the same way that any language functions. It exists as a means of self expression for the person speaking it.

In Full Circle Theatre’s forthcoming production of “A Tender Thing” (a reworking, an adapted version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet”), I play Juliet, a woman in her 70s, in the year 2013, who is married to her childhood sweetheart who happens to be called Romeo. I have the fabulous task, as Juliet, of telling my Romeo the story of Queen Mab, who gallops through the night, through people’s brains, causing them to have dreams and – more often than not – nightmares. Romeo is not in a good mood, and he asks me to give him “Peace!  Thou talkst of nothing.”  (So he uses the old way of speaking to a loved one, saying “thou” instead of “you”, and “talkst” instead of “talk”.  Not much translation needed there.)

As Juliet, I respond with the words: “True!  I talk of dreams”.  How long did it take you to make the connection between his “nothing” and my “dreams”?  What precisely am I saying? That dreams are the same as nothing, they are not real, they do not exist.  Did you think there must be more to it than that?  Did you, just for a moment, assume that it had to be more than that, because Shakespeare Is Difficult?  Believe me, he ain’t.  But as long as people believe he is, he will be. It’s a bit like that voice exercise, the lip trill.  Keep on saying you can’t do it, and you never will do it. IMG_2429

So here’s my challenge.  Come along to the Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, sometime between 9th and 18th May, and catch a performance of this production. Stick around afterwords and bail me up when I come out of the dressing room, and tell me whether or not you found the language difficult to understand.  Call me an optimist, but I like to think you’ll understand exactly why, and how, by the end of the play, “our little life is rounded with a sleep”.

I’ve also written about this production at Thunder’s Mouth Theatre, and you can keep up to date with production details at Full Circle Theatre’s Facebook Page.

Speaking of Facebook, did you think of clicking Like on the Being in Voice Facebook Page?  That way, you’ll always hear about the latest blog posts, and about classes and workshops – not to mention the soon to be released iPhone App!Default

 

Did My Heart Love Till Now?

My students hear those words a lot these days, whenever I need to demonstrate a particular teaching point that involves placing my voice at the disposal of sounds that combine to make words that combine to make phrases, sentences – in other words, text.

It makes a change from “the quality of mercy…” which is usually the first text that comes to mind when I am teaching – “to be, or not to be” is usually the second. There are many reasons why I choose these texts, not least being because I am so unlikely to ever be cast as Portia or Hamlet, so it’s an opportunity for me to play with these words.

A Tender Thing

A Tender Thing

You’d be forgiven for assuming that I’d never be cast as Juliet either, but here’s the thing. The Royal Shakespeare Company commissioned playwright Ben Power to create a new version of the star-crossed lovers, an elderly couple who also happen to be called Romeo and Juliet, who speak with the language of Shakespeare as they approach the end of their lives. Full Circle Theatre, a company new to Brisbane, presents “A Tender Thing” at the Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, from 9 to 18 May, and I’m playing Juliet. Linda Davey is the director, and Romeo is played by Michael Croome. Lighting design is by Matilda nominee Daniel Anderson, set design by Freddie Kompt.

“Forswear it, sight!”

This is a beautiful play.  It is also a challenging piece, demanding every bit of vocal, physical and emotion power I can find, intellectually stimulating and deeply satisfying to my soul.  I am terrified, excited and thrilled to be involved – all at the same time.

I hope you will come to see it in May. We have a relatively short run, just a week and a half, and we are so looking forward to sharing it with you.  Please spread the word. Booking are now open at the Powerhouse.

“For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night”