Finding Your Voice

This week in class, I continued with my doing things that scare me mantra, but I also took my last director’s and Stevie’s note to heart, about being on voice. This was much easier said than done.
Monday morning, we worked on our monologues in voice class, then when we got to Debbie’s class, I volunteered to present mine. I kind of wanted to change my mind after Sydney was so good at hers, but I still got up and did it. The first time, I stumbled on some words, so when she asked me how it went, I said not so great. I might have lied had I known that this meant she was going to make me redo it. Not the whole thing, but enough for me to stumble again.
The way presenting our monologues goes is that we do it once (or twice if the first time didn’t feel right) and then Debbie and the class find things we have learnt that can help you achieve what your goal is for the speech. Mine was to make Shakespeare’s words sound natural, not like I am reciting Shakespeare.
I won’t go into all of the exercises I did, but the one that really seemed to help me was tearing and sideways (I said the speech with the sensation of tearing things, and slightly focusing on the side. It’s actually way more useful and elaborate than this explanation, but I am simplifying it for you) There was something about the anger and deliberateness of tearing, combined with focusing not so much on myself, that helped me find my voice, and connect with the material.
I made a lot of useful discoveries, but most of my notes have to do with confidence, like allowing myself to bring it to life, not dropping off the ends of my lines, and so on. I am definitely going to miss Debbie keeping me on my toes when all of this is over.
On Tuesday, we had our first day of rehearsals with Rodney, which we spent going through the play that we will be doing, Timon of Athens. We went around the circle to cast the parts as they came up. I was on Rodney’s left, so I was the first to speak. Our scene was pretty easy to understand, but we kept having to restart it because I was throwing away the ends of my lines, and wasn’t really sure how to fix it. I mostly had to use hand gestures and exaggerated emotions to try and get through it, with Elizabeth, my scene partner, being incredibly encouraging throughout my attempts. Luckily, I only got the small one liners, but my confidence was mostly shot.
On Wednesday, our first class was singing, a song that I couldn’t quite get right. I was given the note of going for it, and singing my heart out, even if I am wrong. His note about singing it angry worked a bit better for the louder and confidence part, but I can’t differentiate between pitches that are close together. Which is better than the tone deafness I am sometimes accused of having, but still doesn’t bode well for singing (although I was told today that it is enjoyable to hear me sing Hit the Road Jack, so that’s something). I was also lucky to have Cassie smile encouragingly as I sang angrily at her.
In historical dance, I was super proud of myself when in our foursome, I was the only one who didn’t do the wrong steps, but this vanished when the next round, Sydney was the only one who got it right. Finally, Diana joined our group and we figured it out. It is definitely nerve-wracking dancing with the teacher, but I still love this class!
That afternoon, we had a masterclass that was very movement focused, but the first thing he did with us was to say ‘freeze’ and have us stand perfectly still, in the positions we were standing in. He let everyone unfreeze, except for 5 of us. Including me. I was the first that he had everyone comment on. I was incredibly happy that I was in my power pose rather than with my arms crossed in front of me, but I bit my bottom lip and looked to the floor to keep from laughing out of pure nervousness from their staring at and commenting on me. I have definitely improved posture-wise since coming here, because my weight was centered, and I wasn’t closing myself off. Someone also called me petite, which I choose to take as a wonderful compliment implying that I am skinny, rather than short 😉
On Thursday, I was working really hard on being on voice, which seemed to be working, until I was faced with playing Timon in a scene. As the main character, he had a lot of lines. On the plus side, Rodney did not stop me and I got through the entire scene without dropping my endings or being off voice. Not so great was the fact that I tried to weasel out of reading for Timon. Or how I was yelling, mostly without emotion, unless it was anger (whether fitting in the scene or not), to be on voice and fix the endings. And how I was going so fast to get through it that I was stumbling on words and apologizing. But, I got through it. And it maybe terrifies me a little less. And I was told that I was louder and easier to understand. And apparently, I am the only one who finds it sounds like I am yelling. Everyone else finds it an appropriate speaking level. So, for now, finding my voice means being angry or yelling, but I am resigned to working on it. One day, someone will ask me why I am yelling at them, and it will be because being on voice no longer sounds loud, but sounds normal. I can’t wait.
On Friday, we worked on our RP scenes, where Kailea and I are doing Closer, then I got to sit back, relax and watch other people do their monologues, before some box/platform work in movement class.
I may seem like a really slow learner for a lot of things, especially something as easy as talking, but I am becoming more and more aware and conscious of the problem. I am working on it and improving. I am working on getting past all of these obstacles I have built on myself. And…baby steps, right?
My parents were in town last week, so my nights and weekend were spent doing awesome things with them, like the Harry Potter Studio Tour, visiting London, walking across Abbey Road, or to the top of Primrose Hill, seeing Wicked and so on 🙂


“It’s not about finding your voice, it’s about giving yourself permission to use your voice.”

-Kris Carr

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