Voice from a Director’s Perspective: Conversation with Janette Smith

 

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Janette Smith & Christine photoboothing it up with some colleagues at ArtsEd’s grad ball. Janette is standing next to Christine, wearing that oh-so-stylish hat in those first couple of photos. 

Hey Friends,

Are you an actor and if so, did you enjoy last week’s episode with director Dan Bird? Wondering what other directors have to say about what they’re looking for from you vocally?

In this episode, Christine talks to friend and colleague Janette Smith. Janette is a freelance director and actor trainer, and has a lot of interesting thoughts about what she’s looking for from actors vocally. This episode is especially relevant for actors who are in training or who are thinking about training, but is also useful for all professionals!

Themes that come up are:

  • actors need to know their instruments: how to use them and what their limits are.
  • There is nothing worse for the audience than hearing actors hurting themselves. Audiences don’t like watching someone hurt themselves– it takes them out of the story.
  • The difference between ease and relaxation.
  • Actors need to be more aware of how much an audience listens– that they absorb sounds of words as well as meaning, and that listening to live actors means audiences can feel, as well as hear their voices.
  •  Actors have to be multi-skilled. This job takes a lot of craft.
  • Directors have to work in a very different way with unskilled actors than trained actors who understand their body and voice.

If you’d like a downloadable version of this episode, you can find it on iTunes by searching for ‘BeSpoke Speaks’ or on BuzzSprout.

We’d love to hear thoughts and questions that this conversation brings up for you. Feel free to comment below or email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com. We are looking for more questions to answer for future podcast episodes– we’d love to hear from you!

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

 

Voice from a Director’s Perspective: Conversation with Dan Bird

 

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Director and Acting Teacher Dan Bird, hanging out with one of his BFFs

Hey Friends,

If you’re an actor, have you ever wondered what a director is looking for from you vocally?

In this episode, Christine talks to her friend and teaching colleague at ArtsEd, Dan Bird. Dan is an acting teacher and director, and has some really useful thoughts for actors about what he’s looking for vocally from performers when he’s directing.

The big theme that emerges is the importance of vocal color and a sense of play with pitch range variety, so that the voice is responsive from moment to moment to what’s happening in the text. Here are other themes that come up:

  • The connection between differentiation of thought and the voice organically changing
  • The usefulness of Gibberish
  • The importance of listening
  • Learning your lines around the events that happen in the scene
  • The usefulness of playing around with pitch for the sake of it
  • How not useful it is to focus on how you’re feeling as the character, which sometimes creates a vocal “tone”, and some alternative issues to focus on instead
  • Voice work is not about the voice sounding beautiful, but about it being connected to the performer’s experience

If you’d like a downloadable version of this episode, you can find it on iTunes by searching for ‘BeSpoke Speaks’ or on BuzzSprout.

Let us know what you think about our conversations and/or ask questions that came up for you by commenting below or emailing us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com.

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

Alternatives to Throat Clearing

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Hey friends,

Autumn/winter time can be a magical time, but it can also come with some annoyances, like always feeling like you have to clear your throat.  In this episode, we discuss some helpful alternatives to throat clearing, which, in this cold and flu season, can really get in the way of your presentation or performance.

Whether it be mucous or a dry throat, the need to throat-clear can create anxiety in public speaking situations. The good news is, there are some things you can do to prevent the situation and also things you can do in the moment to help ease the mucous/dryness.

Themes that come up are:

  • Drinking Water ahead of time
  • Avoiding coffee/tea/dairy right before you’re going to speak
  • Breathing and Grounding yourself to help manage any nerves that are causing your need to clear your throat
  • Shifting the focus to the outside environment (to avoid hyper-focusing on the croak)
  • Voice Warm-ups before the communication context to help you clear any phlegm

If you’d like a downloadable version of this episode, you can find it on iTunes by searching for ‘BeSpoke Speaks’ or on BuzzSprout.

We’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this question and our answers to it. You can comment here or email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com.

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

Voice Work for Social Situations

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We are very excited about this first podcast episode in our new format, where we discuss a question from YOU, our listeners. The question we talked about in this episode is:

It’s strange- when performing I find speech easier and more controlled but in social settings I often find myself stumbling over my words or find it difficult to make my words clear. However if I try and use the techniques I use to speak clearly on stage in social settings I find it comes across as wrong for the situation. How can I combat this without over-effort?

This is such a great question and definitely resonated with us. Communicating in social situations can be tricky– it can be hard to be ourselves sometimes!

We talk through where this issue has come up for us, and some ideas for what to do when you’re finding it hard to articulate yourself in social situations. Themes that come up are:

  • Rather than focusing your attention so much inward on how you’re talking as you’re talking, bring your attention back out into your environment. How can you get more curious about your environment and who you’re talking to? How can that shift of attention help re-ground you into the present moment?
  • The usefulness of thinking about breathing to people as you speak.
  • When you feel you’re over-efforting, ask yourself, how can I do less? As you start to do less, you may begin to see more, feel more relaxed, and breathe more easily.
  • The difference between technique and working really hard.

In addition to listening to this podcast here, you can also download it on iTunes by searching for “BeSpoke Speaks” or on BuzzSprout.

We’d be curious to hear what you think about our responses, and if you have some thoughts on your own on this question! Feel free to comment below or email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com.

Please share this episode with anyone you think might be interested, and feel free to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

 

Have you checked out our podcast?

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Lindsay preparing to record a new podcast episode 

Hi Friends,

We are thrilled to announce that we now have TEN BeSpoke Speaks podcast episodes that you can download on iTunes or BuzzSprout. Our first ten episodes are audio guides that take you though different vocal warm up sequences for different situations– perfect if you are getting ready for an audition, presentation, performance both live and on camera, or just want to keep up your confidence and vocal health. These episodes are some of the audio guides that you can find on this website, but now they are downloadable, so you can take them with you any and everywhere.

We are now in the process of recording our next round of episodes, where we’ll be discussing questions you have asked us about your voice, or voice and communication generally. The questions we’ve gotten already have been beautifully varied. We’ve had some great questions about using voice technique in social contexts, managing nerves in public speaking situations and how to apply voice technique to character work. We’re happy to discuss any question you have (we just love talking to each other), so if you have any curiosity about your communication, comment below or email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com. When you send us a question, if you’d like us to say something about you on the podcast, like if you’re an actor and you’re working on a project, include details about who you are and where people can find out more about you and we’d be happy to promote you as we discuss your question.

We believe in the power of healthy, empowered communication, so we want to spread this podcast far and wide. If you’re enjoying what you’re hearing, please consider sharing this podcast with anyone you feel could benefit from it. If you feel so moved to leave us a rating and review on iTunes, we would be so grateful.

Feel free to also follow us on instagram @bespokespeaks and on our BeSpoke Communication Facebook page to get regular episode updates.

In the mean time, happy listening!

Christine & Lindsay

BeSpoke Podcast is Live!

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Hey Everyone,

We have very exciting news! BeSpoke now has a podcast: BeSpokeSpeaks. Many of you have been asking us about turning our audio guides into a podcast so that they are downloadable and you can take them anywhere and everywhere. Well, we have listened, and we are happy to announce that 5 episodes in season 1 are now available on BuzzSprout and iTunes. The first 5 episodes are some of our more popular audio guides. You can find them here on BuzzSprout, or you can search for “BeSpokeSpeaks” on iTunes.

As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, we are also planning on expanding the content of the podcast. We won’t only be offering audio guides of warm ups and exercises, but we’ll also have episodes that are informal conversations between Lindsay and me where we discuss questions that are coming up for you, our lovely audience, around voice and communication. Some of you have already sent us some questions to answer. If you have a question about your voice or communication style, or voice and communication generally, that you’d like us to answer, please comment below or email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com. We would really love to hear from you!

If you’re enjoying what you’re hearing, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. We are very excited about how this could grow and thank you so much for your support.

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

Workshop Announcement

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Take a moment. What is your experience when you perform? When does your craft or creative process serve you well? When do you struggle?

As performing artists, often the struggles that we experience, whether in the creative process in rehearsal, performance or the classroom, come from a nervous system that is attracted towards the fight, flight or freeze response. We literally don’t feel safe.

A predominance of these states and an inability to get easily back to safe mode in your nervous system has devastating effects on the creative process and in life. We are pulled out of the present moment where we truly connect with ourselves, other players and our audience; we struggle to experience pleasure and joy in general and we lack the ability to express ourselves freely and effortlessly in our artforms. We are trapped in the “what’s wrong attention”. And this is exactly what it says on the tin: Our attention is being pulled towards what’s wrong.

This might manifest in a negative thought loop, difficulty breathing or restrictions in the voice when you get up in front of people aka stage fright. It could be feelings of tightness in the body and anxiety in the rehearsal process. How about images of how things might go disastrously wrong before an audition? Maybe it manifests in feeling really low between jobs.

OR maybe you’re just not accessing that in-the-moment creative flow that comes when you’re in a meaningful situation, surrounded by amazing friends and colleagues where everything seems to go well in an easeful, effortless way. Why are these moments so elusive in our art, right??!

First thing, this is not your fault. Like many of us, your nervous system is just a bit out of whack or what is called, de-synched. Your system thinks that by staying on high alert, it’s doing you a favour. And it would be, if you were actually in danger. But you’re not most of the time. You’re perfectly safe. You’re system just isn’t reflecting the reality of your present environment.

The good news is that the nervous system is trainable. You can learn to make strategic interventions that will take your system away from de-synch and towards biological synchrony where an easy, pleasurable and meaningful connection to yourself, others and your work all reside.

Join BeSpoke’s Christine Mottram and Acting coach Craig Deuchar at ArtsEd for a weekend workshop of bio-synching using Organic Intelligence® and Fitzmaurice Voicework®. We’ll be exploring biological synchrony in the context of finding presence and creative flow in your artistic process as a performer.

You’ll be guided through and engaging with the fundamentals of what it takes to experience a powerful presence with each other and in the world, all while communicating your work and cultivating experiences of that elusive creative flow.

We’ll explore bio-synch tools and experiences to:

  • cultivate presence in the here and now in an effortless way
  • attract your attention back to life’s simple, non-addictive pleasures
  • reconnect with the feelings of pleasure in your body
  • develop a deep connection to the body, breath, voice and your material
  • connect with yourself and your fellow human beings in a compassionate way
  • channel the charged energy you experience when performing in to creative flow

This will all help clear the way for your creativity to emerge and reconnect you to the natural enjoyment of the present moment with others through your work.

Booking Info:

When: Saturday, June 22nd 10-5pm and Sunday, June 23rd 10-4pm

Where: ArtsEducational Schools London, 14 Bath Road, London W4 1LY

How Much?:

Standard: 170 GBP.

EARLY BIRD: 140 GBP before 31st May

To book or for more info contact:

clmottram@gmail.com and/or

craigdcoaching@gmail.com.

You can also contact us through our Facebook page here.

Payment in to the below account guarantees your spot. Places are limited and on a first come, first serve basis:

C Mottram

Sort code: 20-74-63

Account number: 93735141

We will email you back to confirm your place once payment has been received.

Preparation:

Please wear comfortable clothing like you would wear in a yoga class.

Bring a yoga mat and a zafu or meditation pillow or regular pillow.

Please prepare a piece of text  to work with. This can be anything that is meaningful to you. Examples are(but by no means limited to) a monologue, a song, a poem, a haiku, a movement piece, a dharma talk you may be giving, part of a presentation or a meaningful topic you want to improvise on.

 

Happy Birthday, BeSpoke! Give the Gift of Conversation

BeSpoke Communication

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It’s the start of March and we feel very lucky to have so much to celebrate, first of all Happy International Women’s Day! Whether you’re a woman or have women in your life you love, we hope you’re celebrating in your own way today. It’s a special day for us for many reasons. An important one is that four years ago today the two of us sat down and decided to try an experiment: easily accessible tools to help anyone curious about improving their communications skills. So we created BeSpoke Communication and had a great time figuring out our website and making posts for any interesting ideas that popped into our heads.

You may have noticed we’ve been slightly less than active in quite a while and the truth is life just got busy. We both got married (slightly tragically not to each other but happily to wonderful men), there…

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Happy Birthday, BeSpoke! Give the Gift of Conversation

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It’s the start of March and we feel very lucky to have so much to celebrate, first of all Happy International Women’s Day! Whether you’re a woman or have women in your life you love, we hope you’re celebrating in your own way today. It’s a special day for us for many reasons. An important one is that four years ago today the two of us sat down and decided to try an experiment: easily accessible tools to help anyone curious about improving their communications skills. So we created BeSpoke Communication and had a great time figuring out our website and making posts for any interesting ideas that popped into our heads.

You may have noticed we’ve been slightly less than active in quite a while and the truth is life just got busy. We both got married (slightly tragically not to each other but happily to wonderful men), there has been a house move, travelling, and lots going on in our work lives. But we kept saying we wanted to come back to BeSpoke and think about something new, something more focused on you, the people interested in communication skills we want to reach. And now we’ve taken some time and we’re very excited to share our next step.

To make our content even more user friendly and available we are going to begin experimenting with BeSpoke as a podcast (name TBC although suggestions are welcome, especially plays on BeSpoke). As a starting point this will include making all our current audio clips available in a podcast format so you can subscribe for easy access and the ability to download. But that’s only the beginning.

The future we see for this podcast is as a conversation about communication skills, from the technical to the abstract, we want to talk about it all, and we really want it to be a conversation with you.

To make that possible and genuine we want your questions.

–Have you ever had a comment about the way you communicate that baffled you? Tell us.

— Struggles with public speaking, interviews, being heard in loud environments, being taken seriously?

— If you’re an actor– struggles in the rehearsal, audition, performance process you want discussed? We’re here for it. Questions about breath? Great!

Please DM, write in comments, email us at bespoke.comcontact@gmail.com and we will take your queries under consideration for episodes. We can credit you by first name, initial, or keep it completely anonymous, just let us know.

Funnily enough, we became close friends over a project in postgrad where we made a podcast (but that’s a story for another time) and here we are again! The podcast landscape has changed since those basic days so bear with us while we figure out the technology and get set up.

In the meantime keep the questions coming!

Watch this space for updates along the way. We can’t wait to talk it all out!

Take Good Care,

Christine & Lindsay