THE LINKLATER VOICE WORK
The Linklater Voice work is a progression of exercises developed by Kristin Linklater which is laid out in her first book Freeing the Natural Voice in 1976, with a revised version in 2006. This renowned technique has been taught in actor training programs around the world, such as Yale School of Drama, University of California San Diego, DePaul University, North Carolina School of the Arts, NYU, Columbia University MFA, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and theater companies and schools in Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Russia, Finland, Japan, Great Britain, Mexico, Canada, South Korea, and China. Over the years Kristin Linklater has trained over 240 teachers towards Linklater “designation” or certification.
The Linklater Voice progression is practical, imaginative and organic. It seeks to undo habitual tensions that inhibit expression and awaken new connections in order to open and strengthen the voice/body/mind connection. The work has a rich use of imagery to stimulate the actor’s imagination and to encourage the actor to fully experience the environment of the play through the language. It also has a deep respect for the structure of text and time-honored rhetorical devices that further the progression of thought.
The Linklater progression is loosely as follows:
*Physical awareness and softening habitual tensions in the body that trap energy.
*Releasing the breathing musculature in order to find an economical, direct release of sound vibrations.
*Freeing the initial vibrations of sound and developing resonance with humming and spreading the feeling of sound vibrations through the body.
*Undoing tensions in the jaw, throat and tongue, and waking up the soft palate.
*Increasing breath capacity and liveliness to prepare the actor for higher energy states and moments of greater intensity.
*Strengthening the full range of the voice by tuning into the natural resonating frequencies in the bony hollows and cavities of the body, and finding a free release through a 3-4 octave range.
*Waking up all the elements for clear, intelligent articulation and a deeply felt connection to text.
Kristin Linklater was born in Scotland and raised on the island of Orkney. She trained as an actor at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts where her voice teacher was Iris Warren. Iris later trained Kristin to teach voice, which she did at LAMDA. Kristin came to the USA in the mid-1960s, where she was the Master Voice Teacher at the original NYU MFA Acting program and coached Broadway actors and theater companies such as the original theater at Lincoln Center, the Guthrie Theater, the Stratford Theater Festival, The Working Theater, The Open Theater and the Negro Ensemble Company of Harlem. In New York she was influenced by the Alexander Technique, and collaborated with Trish Arnold, Peter Kass, Joseph Chaikin, Moshe Feldenkrais, Jerzy Grotowski, and Peter Brook. Kristin was made a Guggenheim Fellow and was the recipient of grants from The Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She started training voice teachers at this time as well.
In 1976 Kristin released her first edition of Freeing the Natural Voice, and in 1978 she moved to the Berkshires to found Shakespeare and Company with Tina Packer. In 1992 Kristin released her second book Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice. By the early 1990s Kristin was hired to teach at Emerson College in Boston, and while there she founded a women’s theater company with Carol Gilligan called The Company of Women and Girls, performing all-female productions of Shakespeare and giving empowerment workshops.
In 1999 Kristin returned to NYC to teach at Columbia University’s MFA Acting Program. During these years Kristin was invited to work with renowned actors, voice teachers and theater companies from around the world. The first German teacher training designation occurred in 2003 and the teacher training process has since expanded to include a global range of voice teachers.
Throughout her life Kristin has maintained her ties with Orkney, and in 2013 she opened the Kristin Linklater Voice Centre on her land – Housegarth, in Quoyloo. She lives there today, giving workshops throughout the year.