Volume 9, Issue 3
Table of Contents:
A Message from the President
From the Editor
VASTA Conference 2014: Voicing the Future: Reinventing Traditions
The Effects of Flying on the Body
Diversity Committee Update
Tackling and Surviving a PhD
International Committe Update
Compensation Survey Results
Why Submit to the VSR?
It is my pleasure to announce our newly elected Board Members who will begin their service this fall: Kim James Bey, D’Arcy Smith and Betty Moulton. We look forward to their insights and contributions to the organization. I would like to thank our other stellar candidates— Marlene Johnson, Erika Bailey and Robin Carr —for their willingness to run for office.
We have much excitement surrounding our upcoming annual conference in London at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. We have over 200 registrants and a waiting list. Most impressive is the list of sixteen countries that will be represented at the conference . . . a testament to the international reach of VASTA. We will have attendees from the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, France, Italy, Russia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Spain, Germany, and Finland! Routledge, the publisher of our journal, is sponsoring our opening night reception featuring keynote speakers and a moment to honor Cicely Berry. I thank Rena Cook and Jane Boston for planning this event (see their report below) and look forward to a wonderful week of learning and sharing.
This newsletter contains a number of interesting articles and reports from our committees, as well as member news, a feature that will be included in every newsletter from now on. I know you will enjoy perusing what Editor Keely Wolter has put together in this very full issue. I want to call your attention to two items. Jeff Morrison has written a lovely piece about the importance of sharing our knowledge through the Voice & Speech Review. He encourages us to face the challenges of academic writing and to reap the many benefits of articulating what we do. I join him in his plea to members: consider contributing to the field by writing an article for the VSR.
You will also find the results to our Compensation and Credit Survey put together by Judy Shahn. Questions such as “What should I charge for a coaching session?” or “What salary is appropriate for this job?” frequently come up in our careers. Though fair compensation depends on a number of circumstances and will vary from year to year, you may find looking over the numbers useful to you as you determine what is appropriate in your own situation. The Board plans to review the credit portion of the survey and devise some recommendations regarding how voice and speech professionals are credited in theatre programs. It is our hope we can help members advocate for credit commensurate with the work they provide.
This will be my last letter as President and I have truly enjoyed my time in this role and look forward to continuing to serve the organization as Past President. What VASTA is able to accomplish, being run by generous volunteers with full-time jobs and busy lives, is quite remarkable. I am continually in awe and honored to be a part of a group of such talented and insightful individuals. In the last two years, we have set forth a new vision for VASTA, seen the transition of the Voice & Speech Review to an on-line format poised to reach a world-wide audience, the formation of the International Committee and the re-envisioning of the Engagement Committee, the completion of two surveys, the establishment of a new grant, and the mounting of two conferences. Many thanks go to an incredible Board, dedicated officers and committees, and the ever-impressive membership for their work and creativity in moving the organization forward. As Lynn Watson steps into the presidency, I wish her the best and am confident she will be a dynamic leader.
With much gratitude,
Hello again VASTAns,
Conference time is fast approaching! If you haven’t already caught conference fever, you certainly will after perusing this issue. From conference and committee updates, to protecting your voice from the effects of air travel, there is a lot to read and get excited about. We also have a couple of emmersive articles regarding the experience of pursuing a Phd and the benefits and challenges of academic writing, not to mention the eagarly awaited results of the compensation survey.
If you are attending the conference, consider sharing your experience with the wider membership by writing about it in the VASTA Voice. Whether you’d like to write about the event as a whole, or just a single presentation, we want to include your thoughts. If you’d like to submit, or would like to discuss more about what/how to submit, please get in touch with me at email@example.com Or find me at the conference and we can chat.
I look forward to seeing you all in London!
Editor, VASTA Voice
We are on the home stretch and the planning committee hears London calling! We are still crossing our fingers that Fiona Shaw is going to join us for the opening ceremony and reception. She is shooting a movie and her schedule can change from day to day, but as she is so dedicated to voice and textwork that she sincerely wants to join us and share her journey.
This year is sincerely balanced with presenters from both sides of the pond - US, Canada, UK, as well as Spain, Amsterdam and Australia - an international assemblage. The four and a half days are packed with presentations, performances, workshops, conversations, and social networking. It is an opportunity to refuel, learn, grow, share, celebrate, dream about the future of our profession and help chart its course.
Many luminaries from all ranks of our profession will be joining us - David and Ben Crystal, Patricia Bardi, Christina Shewell, Leticia Santafe, Cicely Berry, Kristin Linklater, Catherine Ftizmaurice, Eric Armstrong, Fran Bennett, Janet Rodgers, Judylee Vivier, Rocco dal Vera just to name a few. You will be frustrated that you can't do everything!
For a complete schedule go to VASTA.org/conference.
If you are presenting and need a peer review; or you are a full or associate professor or a senior lecturer in the UK, and can do a peer review, contact Tara McAlister Veal, who is coordinating these efforts.
From Jane Boston and Rena Cook, your Co-conference Planners, we look forward to seeing you in London!
Flying, particularly long distance flights at high altitudes can have multiple effects on the body. This article is dedicated to helping the VASTA membership prepare for the flight to London for the annual VASTA Conference. Whether you're in first class or flying coach, flying above 30,000 feet for four-plus hours can affect your health in the following ways.
Humans usually feel the most comfortable when the humidity in the air in which we breathe is about 40 to 70 per cent. In an aircraft cabin, the humidity often falls to about 20 per cent, which causes some dehydration of the mucus membranes and the body in general. It is common to suffer from dry eyes (which can cause serious problems for contact-lens wearers) and a sore or dry throat and nose. This dryness is often uncomfortable, can make you more prone to infections, and can affect the lubrication of the vocal folds, causing temporary hoarseness and a throat tickle.
Hydrate before the flight with Gatorade and drink plenty of liquids throughout the flight - ideally water. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and cola. These have a diuretic effect, which makes you urinate more and which, thus, makes it difficult for your body to maintain its hydration. After the flight, make sure you continue the hydration, enough so that your urine is consistently pale. If your urine is yellow, you are not hydrated enough. Contact lens wearers are advised to remove the contact lenses for the flight.
Lower Air Pressure
Although the cabin is pressurized, during the flight the maximum pressure is much lower than one would experience on the ground. The pressure in the cabin is usually at about the equivalent of the air pressure at an altitude of 6,000 to 8,000ft. This lower pressure reduces the amount of oxygen absorbed by the blood, which can cause some difficulties with completing complex tasks, dizziness, and tiredness. For those with asthma or COPD, there is a slight increased risk of having a spontaneous pneumothorax, which is the escape of air from the lungs to the space between the lungs and the chest wall. In severe circumstances, this can lead to lung collapse. Those with Eustachian tube dysfunction or a propensity towards middle ear infections, the pressure in the middle ear can drop significantly, causing severe pain during the airplane’s descent and possible a rupture of the ear drum. Lower pressure can also cause swelling in the feet and legs. Gas in the stomach or intestine expands as an aircraft climbs. In some people, it can lead to abdominal pains or cramping. Rushed meals, or increased swallowing because of anxiety, can contribute to abdominal pain and bloating during the flight.
There is little you can do to combat the pressure changes and decrease in available oxygen. Individuals with asthma or COPD are advised to use their asthma or lung inhalers before the flight as a preventative measure, even if there are no symptoms of asthma prior to boarding the plane. Individuals with Eustachian tube dysfunction or a history of recurrent ear infections are advised to use a nasal decongestant, such as Afrin Nasal Spray, 2 hours before the scheduled landing time to help open the Eustachian tubes and minimize difficulties with equalizing the pressure in the ears during the descent to landing. For individuals with severe Eustachian tube dysfunction, the use of Sudafed at take-off or within the 6 hours before landing also helps the ears to equalize pressure during the descent. Individuals with high blood pressure or heart disease should speak with your primary care physician before taking Sudafed because it can raise the blood pressure in susceptible individuals. Swallowing, sucking on candy, chewing gum, and yawning also help to "pop" your ears. Removing shoes and avoiding tight clothing will make swelling in the legs less uncomfortable. If you are prone to having gas, avoid food and drink that can cause a buildup of gas - such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, apples or beans before and during the flight. If you have gas during the flight, try eating peppermint capsules to help absorb gases. To release trapped gas that is causing cramping or pain, lean forward over your left knee and then sit up again – this helps the gas to rise through your system and out of your intestines.
About 50 per cent of the air in the cabin is likely to be recycled, although the oxygen level remains pretty constant. There have been reports of infections - some serious, such as tuberculosis - being transmitted during flights. But there is disagreement as to whether this could be through the air being recycled around the plane, which is highly filtered, or simply because the person who falls ill as a result of the flight is seated close to someone with an infectious disease.
If you are seated next to someone with obvious symptoms of illness, ask to be moved. If you cannot be moved, use a barrier, such as a blanket or an item of clothing, as a filter to block the air between you and that individual. You want to make sure that you are breathing in as little of the air that the sick individual exhales as possible.
This is the biggest issue for most travelers. Apart from the sheer discomfort of minimal legroom, which can cause leg cramps, back cramps, neck pain, etc., long periods of immobility lead to a higher risk of deep venous thrombosis (DVT), which is the formation of a blood clot in the deep veins of the legs and hips. The risks of DVT may be greater at lower atmospheric pressures (such as that which occurs with flying) and are definitely greater in those using oral contraceptive pills, those taking any form of estrogen replacement (including estrogen releasing IUD’s such as the Mirena), those who smoke, individuals who are pregnant, individuals who are overweight, those who have recently had major surgery or a stroke, individuals with cancer, individuals who are undergoing chemotherapy, individuals who have a paralyzed lower limb(s), individuals with vascular disease, and those with a predisposing increased risk of blood clots. The biggest health risk of DVT’s is that the clots can, at times, become dislodged from the veins in the legs and hips and travel to the heart and lungs, blocking circulation in those organs and causing death. Death can be sudden and without much in the way of symptoms prior to its occurrence.
• Buy as much legroom as you can afford. This gives you more room to move your legs and exercise the calf muscles.
• Wear comfortable, non-restricting clothes, especially at the waistline.
• Get up and walk around the cabin at least once every hour and exercise your legs in your seat by alternately tensing and relaxing your calf muscles.
• Avoid crossing your legs, or keeping the same position for a prolonged period.
• Don't take sleeping pills unless you are able to sleep in a horizontal position.
• Consider wearing compression stockings or socks that are knee high, which increase the pressure around the lower leg and help to prevent clots from forming.
• Take a low-dose aspirin tablet on the day of the flight and at least an hour before take-off, which will thin the blood and help to prevent clotting. If you are allergic to aspirin or NSAIDS, talk to your doctor about using Plavix or subcutaneous heparin before the flight as an alternative measure to help prevent the formation of clotting, particularly if you are in one the high risk groups mentioned above.
Because the plane's filtered, low-humidity air can dry out your airways, they can strip your nostrils of their protective mucous layer, which makes it easier for air-borne viruses and bacteria to infect your body. Individuals with infections causing diarrhea and vomiting often use the lavatories frequently during the flight, touching the faucets, door handles, and tray tables. Most GI viruses can live on these fixtures for prolonged periods of time, transferring the infection from the original sick individual to you, when you touch them coming in and out of the lavoratory and washing your hands in the sink.
Your best defenses are keeping your fingers out of your eyes and nose, washing your hands with soap and water often while flying, and then wiping your hands with an alcohol-based saniwipe or hand sanitizer after touching anything communal. Try to avoid touching the door handles or faucets directly. Use a towel or napkin as a barrier between your hand and the fixture when turning the water on or off, when flushing the toilet, when opening the door, or when raising/lowering your tray table.
I hope these tips are helpful! Have a wonderful meeting and stay healthy!
We are looking forward to the Identity Cabaret in London! We are in search of a guitar for Joanna Cazden’s piece. If you are in London and can arrange for a guitar at the cabaret, we would be MOST GRATEFUL! You can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Joanna directly.
We are looking to meet as a group on Wednesday August 6th possibly during the lunch break. I will keep you all updated!
I have been reading some exciting and interesting discussions about diversity lately. I wanted to share these with you.
1. Regan Linton wrote an excellent piece for the TCG National Conference: Crossing Borders (Survive/Thrive) salon.
2. The Kilroys, a group of LA based female playwrights and producers got tired of complaints about not enough women playwrights being produced and decided to do something about it. Check out “The List.”
3. Interesting article taking a glimpse at racial diversity on both sides of the pond.
Congratulations to Micha Espinosa, whose new book, Monologues for Latino/a Actors has just been released!
If anyone has recommendations for Diverse Theatre in London while we are there for the conference, please pass them on to me (email@example.com) or Amy Mihyang Ginther (firstname.lastname@example.org). We would love to compile a list for the those interested!
Chair of the Diversity Committee
Thinking of a PhD? Consider this: the dissertation is a major piece of writing, often 80,000 to 100,000 words—not to be undertaken lightly. It is essential to have a deep curiosity and passion, both for your topic and for the process of exploration. Since a PhD implies that you are adding new knowledge or a new approach to thinking about a topic, it is also essential to stay creative and innovative for the full duration of your research, the writing, and the lengthy period of editing and rewrites.
My doctorate process began with a simple, even naïve ambition: to raise the profile of the speaking voice within the academic world and hence generally in public awareness. But this passion for the topic of the voice was not enough, in itself, to warrant a doctorate. I had to find a specific way to address the voice that would create new knowledge.
It took a while to refine my ideas, but eventually I developed a theory of the performing voice and a methodology for analysing the voice in performance that will be useful to both the academic discipline of theatre studies, and to voice practitioners – teachers and performers. A practice-as-research project demonstrated my theory ‘on the floor’ and this, with two separate case studies, provided material for the accompanying dissertation.
There has been, to date, little scholarly writing about theories of the voice in performance, so I could not complete a conventional review of existing literature. Instead, I had to prove and justify the lack of such review. A comparative study of four leading vocal pedagogues provided context for the contemporary field of vocal pedagogy, and allowed me to argue that available teaching manuals do not constitute theories of the performing voice as a phenomenon, but rather are theories of vocal practice or training.
Without a doubt, the most challenging aspect of the entire process was sustaining —over many years—the belief that I was capable of completing an acceptable dissertation. This challenge was compounded by the fact that I held no ambition to be an academic, or to take up a position in an academic environment. My ambition was to advocate for the importance of voice at an existential level, within academia and beyond it.
In meeting this ambition, the university provided support, structure, encouragement, training in the skills of academic research, and access to research materials. It also provided high hurdles, which I found the strength to surmount. It’s been a bumpy ride, but one that I would recommend to anyone with the curiosity to dive in deep.
If you decide to follow this path, I can guarantee three things. Your initial question will change over time. Your appreciation for the rigor of scholarship will grow. Finally: you’ll discover that your curiosity will never be completely satisfied, even after 100,000 words.
40 types of Soy Milk and Why Twitter Helped Me Speak Up
I currently live in Seoul, South Korea, but a few weeks ago, I made my recurring trip to the US/UK for the summer. Sometimes called "re-entry shock," I usually go through a period of being completely dumbfounded by aspects of US culture. What was often invisible and normative becomes strange and uncomfortable. I feel this most strongly in places like supermarkets. I've been known to stand in certain aisles in absolute disbelief and overwhelm at the amount of choice that is available. One brand of soy milk has 40 variations. Original Cheerios comes in three different sizes. This seems a bit excessive, people.
You are probably wondering why I am talking about supermarkets in the VASTA newsletter. It is because there is something incredibly valuable about becoming de-centered from your cultural norms, whether its in relation to soy milk or how we think about voice.
As we set out to engage with others at the London conference, I offer a few quotes to reflect upon.
“White people have never understood the beauty of silence, of connection and reflection ...” - an Asian student in bell hooks' class
“The hurricane does not roar in pentameter,” - Edward Kamau Brathwaite
"Our verbal culture corresponds to our inadequacy of dialogue, investigation, and research. As a matter of fact, I am increasingly convinced that the roots of the Brazilian taste for speeches, for “easy” words, for a well-turned phrase, lie in our lack of democratic experience" - Paolo Freire
How did these viewpoints make you feel? The strength of our community and its international diversity is found within a wealth of values and perspectives when it comes to our passion for teaching voice. The conference provides an opportunity to pro-actively seek out these perspectives and to become a little less culturally de-centered. This is a wee bit more difficult than it seems. I have been to many conferences (VASTA included) where it is more comfortable for us to seek out like-minded people. Just like habits of tension that build up in our body and become normative, habits of thinking can be just as limiting. So stay open. Strike up conversations with participants that you've never spoken to before. Ask more questions instead of just making statements.
I am thrilled that the London conference will have its own Twitter hashtag this year, creating the opportunity for the event to be live-tweeted. I am well aware of the spectrum of technology enthusiasm within the VASTA community, so hear me out on why this can be incredibly empowering.
In May, I attended a conference in Queens, NY that was live-tweeted. What this means, is that someone makes a label for the conference and everyone who attends and is on Twitter can comment on speakers and events under this label. Regardless of whether they can attend or not, people can read these conference updates on a single page online. People tweeted photos, quotes, research statistics, and commentary. In essence, it became an experiential archive of the conference.
I've been on Twitter for a year and this was the first time I participated in a live-tweeted event; it was incredibly easy and straightforward! But the best thing about it was that this type of engagement allowed me to be more empowered to speak up and share my mind in the live space of the conference, a value that so many voice teachers share.
Someone stood up during a panel discussion and said something presumptuous. I wanted to say something in response to this but I thought, perhaps it is just me who disagrees with this person? So I did not say anything. I checked the Twitter feed and noticed that someone just tweeted their disagreement with this speaker. I realized that I was not alone and that if she supported me, other people in the room probably did too! I raised my hand, stood up, spoke my truth, and was applauded. It turns out that many other people in the room disagreed with this person. Live-tweeting allowed me to feel more supported and that there was a stronger sense of connection between all of us in the room. It is also a great opportunity for those unable to attend the conference to engage attendees and continue the conversation well after the event is finished.
I know Twitter can be intimidating, but like many things, it is a learning process that has a lot of potential. If you'd like to try to sign up before the conference, you can find some video tutorials here and some text instructions here.
It would be great to see all of you at #vastalondon2014 this year! I will be around, sipping my shelf-stable, single-serving, protein-fortified, organic, light vanilla soy milk.
Dear Vasta Members,
At the last conference in Minneapolis, we passed out a survey regarding how VASTA members are compensated in Universities and the Professional world and how members are given credit in University and professional productions. We also sent out the survey online.
And finally, here are the results.
Below are answers to each question, the number of respondents, and the percentages for each. I've included some charts for comparisons.
All in all, there were no more than 168 respondents for any given question. This represents between a third and a half of the VASTA membership.
Judith Shahn (VASTA board member)
Compensation Survey Results
Which country do you live in? (168 respondents)
United States: 81%
United Kingdom: 4%
If you work in the United States, what region? (131 respondents)
What size city do you live in? (163 respondents)
Major city: 67%
Suburb of a major city: 11%
Small city/town: 22%
What is your age range? (162 respondents)
What is your gender? (157 respondents)
How would you describe your current career status? (158 respondents)
Early career: 31%
Mid-career (established): 49%
Late career (nearing retirement): 20%
What is your rank? (135 respondents)
Tenured professor: 32%
Tenure track: 18%
Full time (non-tenure track): 16%
Part time (adjunct): 23%
Other (non-academic): 11%
Annual Salary: (116 respondents)
Fee per class? (14 respondents)
Fees ranged from $1600 to $10,000.
Fee per hour? (40 respondents)
1. Income of Tenured vs. non-tenured teachers
2. Annual Income of Academic salaries
Professional Theatre Coaching
Which factors affect your fee for a production? (98 respondents)
Number of dialects: 1%
Size of cast: 1%
Estimated hours: 37%
All of the above: 61%
Range of typical fee for coaching? (99 respondents)
3. Theatre Coaching Fees per production
Television or Film Coaching
What is your fee range if you charge…
Hourly? (39 respondents)
Daily? (25 respondents)
4. Hourly TV/Film Coaching
Hourly fee for individual coaching (Public Speaking, Accent Reduction, Voice [speaking or singing])? (124 respondents)
Fee for corporate coaching (Public Speaking, Accent Reduction, Voice)? (70 respondents)
Workshop fee (for half or more of a day)? (87 respondents)
5. Private Practice fees.
6. Corporate Coaching Fees
7. Corporate Workshop Fees
Voice Therapy or Pathology
How are you paid? (9 respondents)
Hourly: 7 respondents
Annually: 2 respondents
Annual salary? (4 respondents)
$25k-$50k: 3 respondents
$50-$75k: 1 respondent
Hourly fee? (7 respondents)
under $75: 1 respondent
$75-$100: 4 respondents
$100-$150: 0 respondents
$150-$200: 1 respondent
over $200: 1 respondent
Hourly fee? (115 respondents)
over $150: 1%
What is your gender?
76 % female
How long as a Voice Speech Professional?
28% 1-5 yrs
17% 6-10 yrs
16% 11-15 yrs
39% over 16 yrs (with six of those indicating over 30 yrs)
8. Career Status
In University, do you regularly receive credit for coaching? (115 respondents)
Yes 99 (86%)
No 16 (14%)
Are you listed with the designers or production staff? (104 respondents)
58% Production Staff
In Professional Theatre, do you regularly receive credit for coaching? (105 respondents)
91% (96) Yes
9% (9) No
Are you listed with Designers or Production Staff? (100 respondents)
In TV, do you regularly receive credit for coaching? (on screen) (33 respondents)
In Film, do you regularly receive credit for coaching? (on screen) (32 respondents)
Receiving credit (opinion)
You come in midway through rehearsals to help an actor (112 respondents)
107 Accent/Dialect Coach
6 Dialect Consultant
8 Other (Vocal Coach, Singing Coach)
1 Dialect Designer
You attend some rehearsals to give accent/dialect notes (128 respondents)
116 Accent/Dialect Coach
7 Dialect Consultant
You coach one accent in a production (122 respondents)
89 Accent/Dialect Coach
22 Dialect Director
6 Dialect Designer
You coach multiple dialects/accents in a production (118 respondents)
80 Accent/Dialect Coach
25 Dialect Director
11 Dialect Designer
You customize a dialect/accent for a production (118 respondents)
48 Accent/Dialect Coach
18 Dialect Director
50 Dialect Designer
You customize multiple dialects/accents for a production (118 respondents)
46 Accent/Dialect Coach
18 Dialect Director
52 Dialect Designer
You are part of pre-production and a team (129 respondents)
45 Accent/Dialect Coach
34 Dialect Director
45 Dialect Designer
You lead vocal warmups (126 respondents)
111 Voice/Text Coach
11 Voice/Text Director
1 Voice/Text Designer
You come in midway through rehearsal (131 respondents)
121 Voice/Text Coach
2 Voice/Text Director
You attend some rehearsals and help with voices (129 respondents)
120 Voice/Text Coach
1 Voice/Text Director
1 Voice/Text Designer
You attend rehearsals regularly (126 respondents)
92 Voice/Text Coach
30 Voice/Text Director
2 Voice/Text Designer
You have private sessions with multiple actors (132 respondents)
96 Voice/Text Coach
27 Voice/Text Director
7 Voice/Text Designer
You are part of pre-production and a team (119 respondents)
49 Voice/Text Coach
48 Voice/Text Director
21 Voice/Text Designer
Why submit to the VSR? During this year of transitioning to the new publication model, I have also been transitioning to a new job with VASTA – Editor-in-Chief of the VSR. I have been an Associate Editor for the VSR for many years, and I’m good at copyediting, helping people refine their ideas, working on grammar and formatting and things like that. But being in charge of the whole Megillah, besides the intimidation factor of filling the shoes of beloved and respected Voice and Speech practitioners from Rocco dal Vera to Dudley Knight, is not for sissies. One of the biggest challenges is in generating new material – getting authors to write and submit. One of the biggest challenges authors face is committing to writing something. It’s time-consuming, it can be hard, and for a lot of VASTAns it doesn’t feel like a natural outgrowth of the work of their lives. Not the way acting, teaching, or coaching does. So why submit? There’s a conflict here: the VSR needs submissions to serve its audience, but that audience itself needs to submit so that there is an audience, and that audience has all sorts of reasons to avoid submitting. So, in an effort to convince some of you to put your ideas on paper, I’m going to use an ancient method of persuasion and tell you a conversion story.
When I first learned about the existence of the VSR, I had a rather cynical view of the entire idea of academic publishing. At that time, I believed in my core that all my knowledge and my expertise were embodied in me as tacit knowledge, and could only be meaningfully transmitted to others face to face, by demonstrating, listening, responding, and exchanging tactile information. Not by writing, and certainly not by citing other people’s ideas. But on the other hand, I had a tenure-track job, and all of my instincts were telling me that the administrators, even the other practitioners in my department, didn’t really get what I did. It also appeared that writing was how the game was played in academia – “publish or perish,” as they say. It was becoming increasingly clear that if I wanted to keep the job, I had to play the game, and write and publish something. So I saw the VSR as a solution to that problem, but I viewed the entire process with suspicion and, if I’m honest, some derision and a little resentment. Working on an article would take time away from the studio, from teaching, from coaching... from the fun stuff, and I didn’t really want to do it.
This isn’t to say that I was incapable of writing following academic rules. I had been through a rigorous academic undergraduate program, and my MFA was also academically rigorous; I had written a 150-page master’s thesis with a giant bibliography. I knew I could write in the academic vein, but I had designed my life over the years preceding my new tenure track job to avoid this kind of writing and thinking. I had come to the conclusion that something about academic writing wasn’t real; it was observing, commenting, and maintaining what I saw as an artificially manufactured distance of fake objectivity from whatever subject one as writing about. And I craved the real. I wanted to do. That’s why I wanted to be an actor to begin with, and that’s all I wanted to do or to help others do.
But I still had a problem to solve, because I felt pretty sure I would lose my job if I didn’t write something, and I wanted to keep it. So I wrote and submitted my first article (not to the VSR; it was actually to Contact Quarterly, a journal about Contact Improvisation. It was rejected). But I realized something during the process of writing that article. By creating conditions, essentially a promise to myself, under which I wrote my ideas down and structured them into a persuasive argument, I discovered that I began to develop specificity about ideas which then began to inform my teaching and my work as a performer on a daily basis. I didn’t realize until after writing them down that the process of articulating them that way made them less fuzzy and more concrete. These were my own ideas, insights gleaned from a variety of different places and synthesized into my own approach, and I thought I knew them. But after writing them down, I discovered that I felt surer of the validity or workability of these ideas in the classroom, and had a confidence when answering questions or leading voicework that I had lacked before. But I hadn’t noticed the lack until I gained this new clarity. It was like getting a new eyeglass prescription: over time, you get used to things being fuzzy with your old glasses and you adjust your behavior. Then when you get new glasses, you suddenly wonder how you managed to drive home without having an accident. And you also see all kinds of cool stuff along the way that you never noticed before.
This is a personal story. It may not have relevance for everyone. Not everyone in VASTA has or wants a tenure track job. Not everyone is interested in academic writing. I myself remain skeptical of some forms of academic writing. I still seek to reduce the distance between thinking and doing as much as possible. The Voice and Speech Review is actually a great place for people to write who have some skepticism about academic modes of thought, because the journal is for practitioners – people who do, and who want the gap between the idea and the action to be as small as possible. But clear thoughts lead to clear action. This is something that Voice and Speech people know in a way that few other people do. It’s true that some of you may feel pressure to publish something because of your job. That’s a good reason to write – survival is a strong motivator. I still think, though, that there are good reasons to write besides survival – better ones, actually. Writing, and being edited by someone, offers the opportunity to be reflective in a way that few other things do in life. Every Voice and Speech practitioner I have ever spoken to at length about the VSR has an idea – how to do something better, how to do something that hasn’t been done before, some annoying inconsistency that one of your beloved teachers simply won’t address that you feel driven to resolve... something. The process of writing it down, figuring out all of the quirks and weaknesses in your argument, structuring your thoughts like a Shakespeare soliloquy, and having someone else help you do it, usually pays huge dividends. You don’t know what you really think... until you think about it. And no matter how much you think you’ve thought about it, you haven’t really thought it through until you try to write it down and make a case before your peers that your idea, your method, your solution, makes sense. That it works. That it adds something to the conversation. It’s very empowering to begin to realize that your expression of yourself has validity and merit. It can change things.
I remember feeling scared that I would write something someone would disagree with. I still remember presenting a version of my first VSR article at an ATHE conference and being directly (but politely) challenged by an audience member on one of my assumptions. This person talked about Voice and Speech in a way that I had never heard before. It changed the way I think, it changed the final version of the article, and it changed what I do as a practitioner. My point is this – even if someone does disagree, the Voice and Speech world is for the most part full of nice people, people who want to help, want to understand, and want to assist you in making your ideas and your voice come through loud and clear. That’s what the VSR is for, too. And, it’s true, reading it can offer lots of insight. But the real revelation comes when you take the plunge, do the work, put your ideas down on paper, work them through again and again, and then put them out there. It’s a familiar model. It should sound familiar to anyone who has rehearsed and then opened a play. It’s the same thing. That’s our business. So take the risk. Write something down. Work on it with us. Submit to the VSR.
Hi fellow VASTAns,
Welcome to the Member News column! Celebrate with our colleagues as they share their work in the world of voice and speech. We want to celebrate you too! So, we thought that we would take the time for a quick reminder that we have recently changed how member news works.
In order to better accommodate the active careers of the membership, we decided to make member news a regular column in The Voice. This way you can keep the community updated on your professional activities more frequently. Social media makes it easy to share instantly, but don't forget about us here! We want to know what you're up to. If you have anything you'd like to share - the shows you've been working on, a new teaching job, exciting news about a student, a new workshop or methodology you've studied, or an upcoming publication, please send us an update. You can email your entry, as a word document, to editor Keely Wolter at email@example.com.
The preferred format for these entries is 12 pt font with your name in all caps and location/primary employer in parentheses immediately following the name. Please follow standard MLA format for the stylization of titles of publications (Italicize books, play titles, film titles. Quotations around article titles.) We also want to see your lovely faces, so please feel free to submit a photo along with your news or indicate if we should use the photo on your vasta.org member profile. Please see one of the entries below for examples.
I'm wishing everyone a brilliant time at the conference!
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Associate Editor, VASTA Voice
ROBIN CARR (University of Southern Mississippi) most recently taught Lessac Kinesensic workshops at the Curious Theatre in Denver, CO and with Master Lessac Teacher, Nancy Krebs at Center Stage in Baltimore, MD. Robin is currently dialect coaching Taking Steps and One Man, Two Guvnors for Southern Arena Theatre. She is also the Artistic Director for Midsummer Musical Theatre Experience, a summer musical theatre camp for kids ages 8-15, now celebrating its 10th season.
MICHA ESPINOSA (Arizona State University) is thrilled to announce that Monologues for Latino/a Actors: A Resource Guide to the Contemporary Latino/a Playwrights for Actors and Teachers is available for purchase on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Also look for her article in the Ethics and Pedagogy section of the Voice and Speech Review, "Teaching in Cuba: A Voice Teacher’s Perceptions of Two Contrasting Learning Environments and the Effects of Commodification". A master teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework®, Micha teaches alongside Aole Miller and many revered Balinese artists a two-week acting intensive in Bali, Indonesia. Consider joining or sending your students to Bali: June 15-30, 2015. Look for pictures this year on Facebook, Bali: The Art of Transformation. Micha is co-conference director of the sold out bi-lingual Encuentro de Voces -Freedom and Focus Conference in Bogota, Colombia July 14-19. Now, Associate Professor of Voice and Acting, Micha would like to thank her VASTA community for their support and advocacy throughout the years.
MARYA LOWRY (Brandeis U/Actors’ Shakespeare Project) Recent Workshops: Europe - 3 day residencies with Mitos Performing Arts Center, Cyprus, neTTheatre, Poland, and Astragli Theatre, Italy for "Voice and Empathic Listening Workshops”. 3 day "Ecstatic Voice and Lament” for University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) advanced acting class; 2 day "Roy Hart Voice Training" for Professional actor/singer/voice trainers, Co-lead with Phil Timberlake in Chicago. Next: will teach Extended Voice workshop for Joan Melton’s One Voice: Certificate Course in Integrative Studies, NYC this summer. Acting: recently played Lyubov Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard for Actors’ Shakespeare Project (nominated for an Elliot Norton Award for Best Production). Marya just completed her 25th year teaching in the Brandeis U. MFA acting program.
LISSA TYLER RENAUD, PhD (Oakland, California) After theatre research in Stockholm, Renaud presented a paper on theatre training at an international conference and festival in southern Sweden. Theatre publications are ongoing: in Scene4 international cultural magazine; in Critical Stages, a UNESCO journal; and in the national Ambush Review literary journal. Her invited chapter on Stanislavsky’s voice and movement training appears in Routledge’s new Companion to Stanislavsky (October 2013); research on this subject continues. Visit to Shanghai Theatre Academy. Voice training essay: pending the next Voice and Speech Review. In April, Renaud was featured in a group reading at the legendary Beat Museum, San Francisco. In May, she worked again with broadcasters at the National Radio Project. Upcoming: the world theatre congress in Beijing. Best of all, her students—within the U.S. and around the world—are thriving professionally: actors, directors, producers of stage and film, and more. Very proud!
LUCILLE S. RUBIN, Ph.D. (Professionally Speaking NYC) received the V.E.R.A (Voice Education Research Awareness) Award from The Voice Foundation on May 30th. Dr. Robert Sataloff, Chairman of TVF, thanked her for coaching presenters at our “Care of the Professional Voice” symposia, chairing the Presentation Outreach Program and serving on the Advisory Board; NYC stage actors Lucille has coached appear in Bullets Over Broadway, Dinner with Friends, City of Conversation, The Great Immensity, The Tribute Artist, The Laramie Project and Delores plus Staged Readings of The Country Wife and Too Clever by Half or The Diary of a Scoundrel and The VANDAL in Tivoli, NY; On TV: Actor in House of Lies; Anchors on CNN and ABC; On Film: Actors in Some Velvet Morning, Gambit, Rob the Mob, New York Love Story and Eternity. She also enjoys coaching corporate clients and teaching at Circle in the Square Theatre School, NYC. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
SHANNON VICKERS received Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor, July 1, 2014. This past season she coached three productions for Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre; Venus in Fur, The Secret Annex, and Good People. Shannon would like to thank VASTA for the generosity, support and mentorship opportunities throughout these past seven years. She is looking forward to seeing many friends at this year's conference in London.
VASTA Board of Directors & Officers
Michael J. Barnes
Guy William Molnar
Tara McAllister Viel
Joanna Battles & Tamara Meneghini
Amy Mihyang Ginther
©2014, Voice and Speech Trainers Association