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Ep. 11: What is a “Shakespeare voice”?

“If you’re in the place of ‘everything feels good and easy,’ that’s probably not a good orientation in terms of these words and this language.” – Scott Ferrara

On this episode of Speaking Of… I’m joined by my friend, voice and acting teacher, Scott Ferrara.

Scott specializes in coaching voice as well as acting for classical texts. He joined me to talk about “Shakespeare voice”—the tone and accent that many actors often go to when first exploring Shakespeare in performance. We talked about why he believes this is so common, and he shared some tools and experience for how to guide actors toward their more authentic voice. (And it is far more advanced than saying “Hey, don’t do that voice.”) While the main conversation is from the context of Shakespeare in performance, the conversation is absolutely relevant for actors of all genres and mediums, and even for non-performers interested in finding their more authentic voice.

Interview Highlights:

  • Common qualities of “Shakespeare voice” and why it’s a go-to for many actors.

  • Tools for helping actors connect to their more authentic voice when performing Shakespeare or other heightened texts.

  • Tools for finding greater connection to heightened texts and language in general.

  • How our sense of prestige affects voice and accents.

  • How our sense of prestige may affect our beliefs around who has a right to perform Shakespeare.

  • The importance of viewing performance training as a process that we get to do, rather than something we have to do.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, there are several upcoming opportunities to study Fitzmaurice Voicework starting in September. I’m teaching an 8-week class on voice, text, and presence in performance from September 26-November 21 (no class on October 31). Scott Ferrara is teaching two one-day workshops on Fitzmaurice Voicework and Alexander Technique. And I’ll be assisting the European Director of the Fitzmaurice Institute and my good friend, Helena Walsh, in her 3-day workshop on Fitzmaurice Voicework and Organic Intelligence from September 12-14.

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