Articles & Essays

THE VOCAL VISION; Applause Books, 1997

Edited by Marian Hampton & Barbara Acker
Applause Books, 1997

Theatre, therapy, and the art of voice: it would be presumptuous of me to think that I can corral these three huge and restless subjects into a cohesive holding pen for long enough to separate, brand, and relocate them for classification, breeding, and sale, were these not cattle already grazing in my training pastures. I have to examine the art of voice training within the context of where theatre is headed next and what kind of healing power is generated by my work and the greater art it serves because these questions are daily present, not theoretically but practically, in my classroom.


October, 1990

A crying baby expresses its emotional truth—its breath picks up its essential survival impulses and turns them to sounds, which demand a response. If the response comes, the baby lives. If the call is unanswered, the baby dies, either literally or in spirit. Later, when words begin to come, a child's environment either confirms that emotional expression is all right or, more commonly, inhibits such expression. The three-year-old with a life-or-death need for a chocolate chip cookie—"MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY, I WANT A CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE I WANT"— very quickly learns to disconnect his or her voice from emotional impulse in order to get results. The voice that coos or pleads in a sweet unthreatening high tone—"Mommee, if I'm a very good little boy (or girl) and say pretty please with sugar on it, can I have a chocolate chip cookie?"—is likely to get the cookie. That voice has begun a conditioning that disconnects it from emotion and hooks it into mechanisms that disguise the truth, thus creating a vocal behavior conformable to and supportive of the cultural norm.

The Drama Review; March, 1972

Volume 16 Number 1 (T-53)
March, 1972

In October 1971, Moshe Feldenkrais came to the United States to give seminars in body training at the Esalen Institute, at Carnegie Mellon, and at the School of the Arts at New York University. The interest shown in his work by these institutions reflects an important change of emphasis in the area of movement training for actors.

The choice, put simply, is between training the body to perform skillfully as a well-exercised, aesthetically pleasing physical instrument, and freeing the body of its habitual tensions programmed patterns of behavior, so that it can respond uninhibitedly to impulse, and genuinely reflect individual imagination and emotion.