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Voice and the Actor Paperback – July 30, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0020415558 ISBN-10: 0020415559 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (July 30, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0020415559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020415558
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Speaking is part of a whole: an expression of inner life." Cicely Berry has based her work on the conviction that while all is present in nature our natural instincts have been crippled from birth by many processes—by the conditioning, in fact, of a warped society. So an actor needs precise exercise and clear understanding to liberate his hidden possibilities and to learn the hard task of being true to the ‘instinct of the moment’. As her book points out with remarkable persuasiveness ‘technique’ as such is a myth, for there is no such thing as a correct voice. There is no right way—there are only a million wrong ways, which are wrong because they deny what would otherwise be affirmed. Wrong uses of the voice are those that constipate feeling, constrict activity, blunt expression, level out idiosyncrasy, generalize experience, coarsen intimacy. These blockages are multiple and are the results of acquired habits that have become part of the automatic vocal equipment; unnoticed and unknown, they stand between the actor's voice as it is and as it could be and they will not vanish by themselves. So the work is not how to do but how to permit: how, in fact, to set the voice free. And since life in the voice springs from emotion, drab and uninspiring technical exercises can never be sufficient. Cicely Berry never departs from the fundamental recognition that speaking is part of a whole: an expression of inner life…. After a voice session with her I have known actors speak not of the voice but of a growth in human relationships. This is a high tribute to work that is the opposite of specialization. Cicely Berry sees the voice teacher as involved in all of a theatre's work. She would never try to separate the sound of words from their living context. For her the two are inseparable. —from Peter Brook's foreword to Voice and the Actor

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Fergus McClelland on May 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
I first met Cicely Berry in 1962. Yes, really, 1962. I needed to improve my voice fast for a film I was about to star in - "Sammy Going South" called "A Boy Ten Feet Tall" in the badly cut American version. In 12 sessions of 2 hours each over 6 weeks, she taught me massive amounts about how to change and use my voice. For the last 18 years, I have been a professional speaker and voice trainer. Some of the exercises Cicely taught me are still being used by me with very high earning/level/profile people in acting and corporate life.

This book shows how deep her knowledge is and how to understand, find and release your voice. I use a lot of very different training methods as well - and, at the same time, know that Cicely is the queen of acting voice coaches. Buy the book and be prepared to work with it. If you don't want to work, don't bother to buy it!
Well done Cicely!

Fergus McClelland
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gillian Gurganus on September 21, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book for an aspiring actor! Good price, too. I use this for my Voice for the Actor class and it's really helpful.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E.M. Renraw on September 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
A very informative book. Lots of good diction and breathing exercizes. I would definitely recommend this book to any actor who wants to do classical theatre, or just improve their vocal quality.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is remarkable for its discussion of technique, its selection of sample texts ranging from Herrick to Shakespeare to Sitwell, and its canny sense of what makes an authentic performance. There is also a sense of how an actors can develop limiting habits and how these habits can be overcome. In sum, every bit of vocal advice is tied to expressing a thought or emotion, and few read texts with more insight than Cicely Berry.

I am a theater goer rather than an professional, yet this book helped me understand the theater better and overcome some personal voice issues. If there is a slight caution with this book, it would be to say that the vowels are approached from a British standpoint.
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Format: Paperback
Once upon a time, I studied theatre at LAMDA in the 1970s and this book was a required purchase.

I have still have my original copy and while I am no longer an actor, I feel it is a valuable read for even those considering public speaking and giving lecture demonstrations.

Forget about the Actor's Studio and naturalistic acting! We're paying huge prices for theater in New York City and I want to hear every, single word spoken on that stage. Dagnabbit. Cicely Berry's book will have you speaking Harold Pinter and Shakespeare as if you were born for it.
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