Kristin Linklater was a world-renowned teacher of voice production who pursued a highly successful academic and theatrical career in the United States and Europe for the past fifty years.
She was one of the most recognised names in the field of voice production for actors having published two leading textbooks: Freeing the Natural Voice: Imagery and Art in the Practice of Voice and Language (1976; revised edition 2006) Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice: The Actor’s Guide to Talking the Text (1992).
She was in great demand as a public speaker and workshop leader, and throughout her working life has covered conferences and training events in the USA, Germany, Italy, Russia, Poland, Belgium, Australia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Mexico, Taiwan, Shanghai, Norway, Latvia and Lithuania.
Kristin grew up in Orkney and trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art where the legendary Iris Warren was her voice teacher. Warren had developed her own unique approach to training actors’ voices: from inside out rather than outside in. She said: “I want to hear the person, not the voice.” Kristin began her teacher-training with Iris Warren when she was 21 and subsequently taught at LAMDA for six years.
In 1963 she moved to the United States opening her private studio in New York City. She was Master Teacher of Voice in the New York University Graduate Theatre Program (now the Tisch School of the Arts) from 1965 to 1978. From 1964 to 1978 she worked as vocal coach at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre, the Lincoln Center Repertory Company, the Open Theater, the Negro Ensemble Company, the Manhattan Project and on Broadway.
In 1978 she was a co-founder with Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. Kristin left New York with her two-year old son Hamish for the Berkshires where she lived, teaching and acting with Shakespeare & Company for the next twelve years.
In 1990 she moved to Boston to teach at Emerson College. While based in Boston she created and co-directed with Carol Gilligan the Company of Women, an all-female Shakespeare company which ran workshops for women and girls and created all-women productions of Henry V and King Lear.
In the fall of ’97 she moved back to New York City as Professor of Theatre Arts at Columbia University.
As an actor, Kristin Linklater played many of Shakespeare’s women (Lady Macbeth, Maria, Queen Margaret, Emilia, the Nurse, Titania) and a few of his men (notably King Lear). She created and performed solo pieces, played in experimental theatre productions (Clytemnestra’s Tears and Ovid’s Metamorphoses) and appeared as Euripides’ Hecuba at the Culture Project NY in 2005.
She wrote two books: Freeing the Natural Voice (first published in 1976 by Drama Publishers), and revised, expanded and re-published in 2006 as Freeing the Natural Voice: Imagery and Art in the Practice of Voice and Language. With Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice (pub: 1992 TCG) her books have sold over 200,000 copies and are leading textbooks in the field. Freeing the Natural Voice has been translated into German, Russian, Italian, Korean, Spanish and Polish, with Finnish, French and Mandarin translations pending.
Kristin published several articles on voice and has lectured and given workshops in the U.S., the UK, Europe, Russia, Taiwan and China. Since 1965 she trained over 200 teachers in her methods; they teach in a majority of the actor-training programs in the U.S., and in Australia, England, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Finland, Spain and Russia.
Kristin Linklater’s teacher-training process is lengthy and rigorous. Those who are finally designated as Linklater teachers have undergone between three and five years of personal training; including fulfilling the Pathway to Designation prerequisites; observing classes taught by Linklater Master Teachers and participated in an intensive ‘how to teach’ program taught by Linklater herself. This is a six-week, two-part program that spans two years.
In 2013 Kristin retired from Columbia as Professor Emerita and returned to her native Orkney where in 2017 she was proud to be made an Honorary Fellow of the University of the Highlands and Islands. In 2014 the Kristin Linklater Voice Centre opened its doors to a fully residential voice retreat centre offering a variety of voice and text courses throughout the year.