The VASTA Voice

Volume 8, Issue 4
September 2013

Table of Contents:

A Message from the President
Mennen Grant Applications
VASTA 2014 in London!
Call for Proposals:  ATHE 2014
Update from the Diversity Committee
Learning to Love the Tenure Track
Update from the Outreach Committee

A Message from the President

Mandy Rees

What a delight to see so many of you in Minneapolis at our conference, Voices of Wisdom: Spanning Generations. For those of you unable to come, we spent an exuberant and educational four days in sessions at the Guthrie Theater and the Aloft Hotel. Andrew Wade led us in a joyful exploration of sound in two of the Guthrie’s theatre spaces, Andrea Haring had us moving and playing with images and text, and Ken Washington guided us in an engaging dialogue. Member presentations were equally exciting and informative. We took a moment to celebrate the life and contributions of Dudley Knight, our dear friend who recently left us. The staff of the Guthrie was more than hospitable and made our stay very pleasant. After hours, many of us found our way to the hotel lobby and local restaurants where our conversations continued. Many thanks go to Alison Vasquez for spearheading this successful event. Now it’s time to look toward London. Rena Cook and Jane Boston have an exceptional group of presenters on board which you can read about in this newsletter.

We Need Your Voice: Two Requests
The Board of Directors will gather shortly for their fall meeting in Chicago. During the meeting we will hold a mini-retreat with a few invited guests to engage in vision planning. This will be the third vision planning session in VASTA’s history and will be a time to revisit the goals of the organization and plan our future. Michael Rohd, who led us in discussion at our Washington, DC conference, will facilitate our retreat.

Conference Opener 2013We have tentatively set the afternoon of Saturday October 5th around 2pm Central time—during our retreat— as a time to reach out to the membership. We will pose a few questions and invite any and all VASTA members to send in ideas and responses that we will take back into our vision planning. We will send out another announcement soon. This is your opportunity to participate in goal setting for the organization. We look forward to your contributions.

Thanks to those of you who have completed our first member survey. A second one is coming on-line soon (it debuted at the conference) and includes questions about how you are credited and compensated. Being credited and paid fairly is an issue that is important to many of us, and this survey will provide us crucial information in understanding what our members face and how we should proceed. We hope many of you will participate. Please know that your sensitive information will be protected and we are only looking at the combined data, and not individual responses.

Giving Service
We welcome Hilary Blair and Adrianne Moore onto the board and look forward to the energy they bring, and send thanks to Anne Shilling for her three years as Board Member. We have a changing of the guard in a number of positions— Newsletter Editor: Joe Alberti (outgoing, the next editor to be announced); Secretary: Melissa Grogan (outgoing) and Melanie Julian (incoming); Membership Director: Shannon Vickers (outgoing) and Thrasso Petras (incoming); ATHE Conference Planner: Kristen Loree (outgoing) and John Graham (incoming); Director of Technology/Web Services: Michael Barnes (outgoing) and Adriano Cabral (incoming); and Social Media Coordinator: Judd Johnson (incoming). We sincerely thank those completing their terms and welcome all those newly in place.

I invite you to peruse this issue of the VASTA Voice to learn about some of the exciting things happening in our organization.

My best wishes,
Mandy Rees
VASTA President


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Call for Applications: Dorothy Mennen Research/Development Grant

Barry Kur

Barry KurThe VASTA Awards and Grants Committee is pleased to announce its first grant/award for 2013-14: VASTA's Dorothy Mennen Research/Development Grant Award of up to $1000 to fund two VASTA members for research or professional development.  VASTA has been able to offer this kind of grant, thanks to the success of our VASTA Endowment. As part of the ongoing mission of the organization, VASTA is very pleased to be able to support the profession by providing an opportunity to members for greater professional development.

This award is named for Dorothy Runk Mennen who served as the founding president of VASTA and is affectionately known in the organization as "the mother of us all." She organized the voice and speech program for the American Theatre Association in 1968, and in 1986 helped to found VASTA. Dorothy created the voice curriculum at Purdue University where she taught until 1985, and as Professor Emerita she was involved in the classroom climate interactive theatre workshop program. Dorothy continued as a vital member of the VASTA board for a good twenty years into her retirement. Dorothy's spirit of encouragement, vision of inclusivity, professionalism, determination and generosity are at the heart of VASTA's mission. Dorothy Runk Mennen passed away in early 2011, but her legacy lives on.Dorothy Mennen

VASTA Members are invited to apply for one of two awards of up to $1000. Examples of the kinds of projects or professional development opportunities include (but are not limited to):

  • attending a workshop with a master teacher to further your development as a trainer and/or artist
  • a small research project related to voice and/or speech
  • subvention of publication of an existing manuscript
  • a travel subsidy to support training or research to cover transportation and or subsistence
  • purchase of equipment to support teaching

NOTE: We will not be accepting applications to fund electronic equipment and computers at this time.
Applicants for the Mennen Research/Project Grant should submit the following:

  1. A 2-page condensed C.V.
  2. A 2-page project description which must include the following:
    1. project overview and rationale
    2. scope and objectives of the project
    3. significance of the project to your career
  3. A detailed budget explaining how the money will be spent, based on actual quotes (do not use rough estimates). Also include the answers to the following questions:
    1. Do you intend to seek additional support or matching funds for this project?  If so, please name other source(s) of funding.
    2. If we are unable to fully fund this request, would partial funding encourage institutional support for your project? If we are unable to fund fully, would you prefer not to be funded at all?
    3. If this is a research project, please include a brief statement of its relationship to existing research and literature, an outline of plans and methods, and the anticipated dates of the project.

Please Note: Applicants must be VASTA members in good standing for a minimum of four years prior to application.

Please submit your materials in .doc or .pdf format via e-mail to:
Barry Kur  by the October 31, 2013 deadline.

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VASTA Conference 2014 in London!

Rena Cook

Make your travel arrangements now to attend the VASTA Conference in London, August 5-9, 2014, at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. The headliners so far include David and Ben Crystal and their popular work with Shakespeare in Original Pronunciation (OP).  Voice practitioner and Head of the MA in Voice Studies and the International Centre for Voice at Central, Jane Boston, and leading Mind/Body practitioner Patricia Bardi are excited to share the research they have been doing about the perception of sound in relation to the expressive body/voice in action. In addition, Paul Meier will Rena Cookshare his experiences using OP, Leticia Rua will present her work on the synthesis of Linklater and Body-Mind Centering, Claudette Williams of Central will offer techniques and practices for working with a diversity of students; voice teacher and speech and language therapist, Christina Shewell, will share her work on the merger of art and science in the training of the voice based on her book Voice Work: Art and Science in Changing Voices. The actress Fiona Shaw will open the conference and share her experiences of working with voice and poetic language and dynamic young actress; Cush Jumbo, an alumnus of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, will close. We are extremely delighted to announce that Kristin Linklater will be joining us as both presenter and speaker.

Member presentations will of course play a key role.  Watch for announcements about the proposal forms and timelines coming soon. We anticipate many presenters from both sides of the pond!

Though the schedule will be packed, other than the welcome reception and keynote on August 5, all evenings will be free for theatre-going.

Attendees will arrange their own housing, but the Best Western Swiss Cottage is right across the street from Central.  They have set up a group code (413) for the conference bookings. Gopal, the group sales manager, asks that guests call individually and request the room types to make booking.  There are, of course, other hotels in the area.
Best Western Swiss Cottage Hotel
Direct Tel  + 44 (0) 207 449 1940
Direct Fax + 44 (0) 207 449 1941

Your conference planners are Rena Cook and Jane Boston. If you have any questions or wish to volunteer to help with the conference, you can email them at or


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Call for VASTA Proposals: ATHE 2014

“Dream Acts: Performance as Refuge, Resistance, and Renewal”

John Graham

Scottsdale, Arizona
Fairmont Scottsdale
Princess Hotel
July 24 - 27, 2014

Deadline: November 1st

Announcing a Call for VASTA Session Proposals for the 2014 ATHE conference to be held in Arizona July 24-27th. Deadline is November 1st.

We invite you to submit an application for workshops, paper presentations, panel sessions, and multi disciplinary sessions. For those of you not able to go to the VASTA conference in London this year, this is an excellent opportunity to share your knowledge, ideas, research, exercises, or methodologies with the larger Higher Education community. We had some great sessions this past summer in Orlando, and made our voices heard by the other disciplines.

John GrahamArizona is an intriguing and dynamic place to convene a gathering of theatre artists in general, and voice practitioners in specific. From the web site: “…the geopolitical landscape of Arizona offers us a chance to reflect on our responsibilities as artists and educators to the land, to the multiple histories it harbors, and to the next generation of artist/activist/citizens who have charged us with nurturing and shaping their dreams… ATHE 2014 invites you to take inspiration from the desert to consider how performance dreams forth the possible from the impossible, offering opportunities for refuge, resistance, resilience and renewal”

Should you have questions regarding the nature of the sessions or the application process, or in finding a co-presenter, please don’t hesitate to contact me at:

To apply, go to the ATHE Website Application

ATHE also has a Site Offering Advice on How to Create a Successful Application

I look forward to hearing from you!



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Update from the Diversity Committee

Michelle Lopez-Rios

(We are committed to continuing the discussion on diversity issues in the VASTAVoice.   As chair of the VASTA diversity committee, I invite anyone to contribute to this column! Please send thoughts, ideas and questions to Michelle Lopez-Rios )

Over some fabulous Minneapolis Pizza and salad, ten members of the Diversity Committee gathered to discuss, develop and dream. 

Michelle Lopez-RiosAfter reviewing the charge of the committee, we discussed a plan of action. First, we are creating a timeline of events to chronicle the work of the committee. This timeline will be accessible on the VASTA website early next year. We discussed the presenters and events for the London conference (more on that to come, but it is definitely going to be a conference to remember!)

We are working to develop additional resources on the website. These resources will include an update to the diversity bibliography, a list of diverse plays for scene and monologue work, a list of diverse theaters, and a list of theaters/artists that create original or devised work that celebrate diverse stories. We hope to offer a wide cultural spectrum of materials for our members’ use with all students and clients (Got something to contribute? Send it to

The board approved our recommendation for a “Diversity Scholarship.” This will help fund an early career voice practitioner from an under-represented community to attend the VASTA Conference. Information and guidelines on the scholarship will be available soon.

Finally, we dreamed. We are investigating possible internships at the conference. We are brainstorming ways to reach diverse students interested in the field. We are thinking of ways to mentor the next generation of diverse voice practitioners. Inspired by the excellent performances at the conference, we hope to create a space at the conference for performance of identity. Through the power of performance we hope to encourage diverse practices, awareness, and space for difficult dialogues.

Again, if you have any crazy ideas, diverse students interested in getting involved, hopes for the committee, or you just want to dream, I invite you to contact me. Hasta pronto!

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Learning to Love the Tenure-Track

Erika Bailey

The day I received tenure was the happy culmination of a seven-year process that began before I was hired.  As part of my job interview for an Assistant professorship in an MFA program, I had been asked what I intended to do to get tenure. I had never considered this question.

I had spent the previous 5 years working as a professional actor in New York and training in England as a voice teacher.  Neither experience had prepared me for the American academic system. My first response to the idea of tenure was that it would be a drag. I would have my plate full of teaching and voice and dialect coaching. I would do good work; why did they expect more? And I was supposed to do “research.” What did that mean?

Erika BaileyThe idea of tenure also seemed stultifying.  In New York I had avoided any commitment that would restrain me from taking a job out of town at the drop of a hat. Now I was expected to mount a prescribed campaign in order to hold the same job for the rest of my life!  Did this tenure system hold any meaning at all for people working in the arts?

Seven years ago, I resented and critiqued the tenure club from the outside, as a system that would surely reject me unless I fit into a certain cookie cutter role—a role I knew very little about. Now, having been accepted into this club, I am prepared to sing some of its praises. 

Let me be clear that my experience unfolded within a supportive department and a university that respects and honors the arts.  The largest prizes, of course, were work security and the privilege of expressing artistic and political ideas without the fear of losing my job.

But the process of applying for tenure was valuable in itself. It taught me:

  • How to define myself as a teacher and an artist
  • How to communicate that self-definition to a variety of audiences.
  • How to find mentors for guidance and assistance.
  • How to create artistic opportunities outside of the city in which I live, by networking and asking for help.
  • How to negotiate childcare with my (skilled and supportive) husband when I worked late, or when I travelled to build that precious ‘national reputation.’
  • How to push myself to work outside of my comfort zone.
  • How to see past the day-to-day demands of teaching, towards a longer view of my career.

I certainly would not argue that achieving tenure is the only way to build a fulfilling career as a teaching artist. But despite my doubts seven years ago, the tenure process helped me to see myself as a valued professional artist and teacher. That gift will stay with me even longer than my new (secure) job.

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News from the Outreach Committee

Joanna Battles

Joanna BattlesHello Vastans! I am Joanna Battles, current Co-Chair of the Outreach Committee with Tammy Meneghini. This year, our main focus on Outreach is to create more visibility for VASTA in professional and academic environments. We are both thrilled to have the opportunity to give back to the community that has helped us so much in our respective careers.  Would you, too, like the opportunity to support the organization of VASTA, and to “help us, help you”? If so, there are a few simple ways that you can proactively get the word out:

  • Add the VASTA logo, or list VASTA with your other affiliations on your email signature, business cards, or letterhead.

VASTA Member

  • Whenever leading a Voice or Speech focused workshop take time to give a plug for VASTA, or even include VASTA in the title of your presentation. 

Furthermore, please let us know if you are planning to present a workshop, particularly for National Thespians, or KCACTF. It is our goal to have VASTA represented at every major theatrical festival this season, and we are currently producing materials (VASTA swag available for download to members) to help support that endeavor.

  • Send us pictures of you working as a Voice professional. It is our hope to have the website and Facebook page continually updated with visuals of all of our members “in action”. Demonstrating that VASTA is a vibrant, busy, and varied community is essential to our longevity. Send your photos to

Last, we are always on the look out for new volunteers to serve on the Outreach committee, please contact us at  if you are interested in joining. Thank you for your continued membership, and best of luck in all your Voice & Speech endeavors in the months ahead!

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VASTA Board of Directors & Officers

Board of Directors

Mandy Rees
President 2009-2012

Patty Raun
Past President 2009-2012

Lynn Watson
President Elect 2009-2012





Michael J. Barnes

Hilary Blair

Cynthia Bassham

Guy William Molnar

Adrianne Moore

Judith Shahn

Krista Scott

Judylee Vivier


Melanie Julien 

Antonio Ocampo-Guzman

Jeff Morrison
Editor, The Voice & Speech Review

Tara McAllister Viel
Associate Editor, The Voice & Speech Review

Thrasso Petras
Director of Membership

Associate Director of Membership

Rena Cook
Co-Director of Annual Conferences

Jane Boston
Co-Director of Annual Conferences

John Graham
ATHE Conference Planner 2013-2015

Associate ATHE Conference Planner

Adriano Cabral
Director of Technology/Internet Service

Joshua Miller
Associate Director of Internet Services

 Associate Officers

Amy Stoller
Internet Resources Manager

Flloyd Kennedy
Officer for International Resources

Zachary Campion
VASTA Archive Catalogist 2007-2011

Brad Gibson



Committee Chairs

Barry Kur
Chair, Awards and Grants Committee

Michelle Lopez-Rios
Chair, Diversity Committee

Joanna Battles & Tamara Meneghini
Chair, Outreach Committee

Joanna Cazden
Chair, Teaching and Learning Committee

Gary Horner




Contact Information Available at VASTA.ORG

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