The voice work has its theoretical and practical basis in the work of Catherine Fitzmaurice.
We work to bring students to a practical awareness of the way they use themselves as actors: working toward greater physical freedom and relaxation; increased breath capacity and control; more effective resonance; increased pitch range; and greater articulatory agility. Cynthia Bassham and Phil Thompson are both Master Teachers of Fitzmaurice Voicework.
Fundamental to this work is a commitment to encountering students’ voices as an expression of their own unique humanity, supporting and developing the freedom, health, power, and creativity of each person’s vocal presence.
The key elements of this exploration are Destructuring, Restructuring, Presence, and Play.
Though this work forms the main basis of our voicework at UCI, we extend this work to a variety of additional skills including increasing vocal variety, safely navigating vocal extremes, textwork, and voiceover. We also explore self-generated projects that look into what’s important to each student—what do you personally want to voice?
Destructuring is intended to facilitate freedom—by deepening awareness of the body and releasing long-held habitual tension. This process is offered through movements (“dynamic efforts”) adapted from yoga and bioenergetics (an induced tremor). The work activates breathing, and interrupt the myriad ways in which we attempt to manage our breathing, and our psychological responses through muscular rigidity.
Restructuring is what begins to emerge when we provide shape and intention to that responsiveness and freedom. We encourage the prioritization of the ribs on the inhale, the isolated use of abdominal muscle on the exhale, and the integrated need and focus of our communication. By working on both principles, developing freedom through destructuring, and focus through restructuring, we support our instinctive breathing responses for the more athletic use required for the stage.
PRESENCE & PLAY
Presence and Play are the filters or the “hows” through which we explore all of our work. We practice awareness and self-regulation techniques to help offer our freest, fullest work while still maintaining healthy boundaries. Though the work is at times deep and profound, we are simultaneously attempting to cultivate a culture of “joyful curiosity” as we find that the richest learning often takes place when we’re enjoying the process and have a lightness of spirit.