The Frances West Memorial Travel Fund

The Kristin Linklater Voice Centre is setting up a fund to honor the memory of Frances West.

The initiative for the fund came from Frances' fellow DLTs, Class of 1993, and several of Frances’ friends and family members have pledged contributions to a fund that will offer modest subsidies for travel for those applicants who want very much to come to Orkney for a workshop but find the travel costs daunting. We feel this kind of helping hand would have appealed to Frances.

She was the soul of generosity and was an inspiration to many of us and to her students.

Kristin speaks about Frances:

Frances died of cancer in 2000 at the age of 61. She had been a beloved friend to many, she was a wonderful mother and a superlative actress. She was well-known and much admired on the Boston stage, and she acted with Shakespeare & Company and The Company of Women, my all-female Shakespeare company. She had an inimitable depth of presence on stage and, having been diagnosed with terminal cancer, with huge courage, she played the leading character dying of cancer in the play Wit.

Frances was English but, like me, had followed her heart to the USA and lived there most of her life. I have found a copy of the tribute I wrote for Frances’ memorial on January 15th 2000 and want to make a more permanent record here of the love I expressed then for Frances:

I met Frances when she was 19 and I was 21. We met at LAMDA. She was a black-haired, striking, sophisticated, talented young student. I was a brown-haired, be-spectacled, neophyte teacher. We met again joyously in Boston in 1989. We were both grey-haired and she was, as ever, sophisticated and beautiful and I loved her both for the link she made to a time lost in the fog of memory and for the light she shed on the present moment. I asked her what I was like in those early LAMDA days and she said I was shy; this was odd because I remember being tough and bossy. Frances always saw what was going on beneath the surface of things. Her insights kept me from a thousand idiocies as we worked together.

I was exhilarated when Frances said she wanted to train to be a voice teacher. Iris Warren had been her teacher at LAMDA. Frances was a kind of living archive of the origins of my work. She was a wonderful teacher. 

I wish Frances could be here to see what we have built in Orkney at the Voice Centre. I wish she were here to be my wise friend still. She would have reveled in the opportunities we offer to young, not-so-young and definitely older aspirants to the art of voice, and I would have loved to introduce her to the unique attractions of Orkney.

The Frances West Memorial Travel Fund currently stands at £500. Once the fund reaches £1000 we shall be in a position to offer modest travel subsidies of up to £250 per person. I hope that contributions will then be ongoing as more and more people experience KLVC and wish to express their gratitude with a donation to the Frances West Memorial Travel Fund.

If you knew Frances and would like to help honor her memory in this very practical way please help us reach our current target and maintain this initiative by placing a donation of any amount here.

For applicants: Do not apply now - once we reach our first target we will announce the lottery open on our website and social media.

Kristin Linklater

I can recall the time... the very hour... of the very day... when I knew words would be my life's work.

WIT- Margaret Edson