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Mary Irwin is a voice and text teacher and coach. She is presently serving as Interim Course Leader for the new MFA Linklater Teaching Practice (Voice & Theatre Arts) at ALRA. She is also a Visiting Lecturer on the MA/MFA Voice Studies and BA Acting (Collaborative & Devised Theatre) courses at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Mary is Professor Emerita in the School of Drama, University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), where she taught from 1995-2018. She was Head of Voice and Speech from 2001-2016. Mary received Teaching Excellence Awards from UNCSA in 1998 and again in 2015. She is currently a freelance teacher and coach in London.
Mary's particular teaching and research interests lie in the intersection of voice with language, with a primary focus on the works of William Shakespeare, and in helping develop the next generation of voice teachers, She was named a reader at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Library and Archive in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2016. Mary had the great privilege of co-teaching Shakespeare for a decade with the late Gerald Freedman, Drama Dean Emeritus, UNCSA, and Artistic Director of the New York Shakespeare Festival during the 1960’s. Together, Gerald and Mary substantially revised and expanded the Shakespeare curriculum at UNCSA. Shakespeare productions she coached there include Pericles, Hamlet, Henry V, Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, Love’s Labors Lost, As You Like It (twice), and at least two Midsummer Night’s Dreams, one of which was performed collaboratively with the Winston-Salem Symphony playing the Mendelssohn score under Maestro Robert Moody. Another orchestral Shakespeare outing was Much Ado About Nothing, with the UNCSA orchestra playing the Korngold score under Maestro and former UNCSA Chancellor John Mauceri. Much Ado was televised on UNC-TV, and won an arts programming Regional Emmy Award. Mary was invited to teach a workshop at Shakespeare’s Globe in London during the summer 2000 season, through the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts funded program, Shakespeare Lives. She served as voice, text and/or dialect coach on over 90 UNCSA productions in total.
Professional coaching includes: King Lear (Northern Stage); The White Devil, Mac Beth (Red Bull Theater, NYC); Cost of Living (Manhattan Theatre Club); And So We Walked: An Artist’s Journey Along the Trail of Tears, Master Harold … and the boys, Noises Off (Triad Stage, NC); Our Town (Palm Beach DramaWorks); The Dresser with John Cullum (Clarence Brown Theatre, TN); Misalliance (Alabama Shakespeare Festival); The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, The Taming of the Shrew, The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (NC Shakespeare Festival)
Other teaching: The Laura Henry Studio in Santa Monica, CA; Red Bull Theater’s Shakespeare and Jacobean Workshops; The Linklater Center for Voice & Language, NYC; Cherokee Summer Co-Laboratory Storytelling Workshop in the Education Dept. of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Cherokee, NC; and guest teacher of Shakespeare text and voice pedagogy at Sarah Lawrence College.
Mary has worked on a number of orchestral Shakespeare performances, having coached two of these hybrid theatrical/orchestral presentations, and appeared in two more. As an actor, her most recent appearance was as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in a co-production presented by UNCSA and the NC Carolina Symphony. Midsummer was directed by UNCSA School of Drama Professor Carl Forsman; Maestro Grant Lewellyn led the orchestra. Mary played Gertrude in Hamlet, at the Aspen Music Festival, with a score by Shostakovich conducted by Maestro John Mauceri, and directed by School of Drama Professor Quin Gordon. Recent voice acting credits include narrating the Copland and Mexico concert with the NC Symphony, and the BBC radio show What the Papers Say (special US election edition).
In addition to her Linklater Designation, Mary holds an MA in Voice Studies from the Central School of Speech and Drama as well as a BA in Liberal Studies (summa cum laude) from New York University. As an actor, she trained at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, primarily with Lee Strasberg. Mary also studied acting and Linklater voice with Clyde Vinson, and Meisner Technique with Laura Henry. Originally from New Jersey, Mary is married to Broadway Dialect and Voice Coach Ben Furey, and lives in London.