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Confirmation of Candidature - Candidate : Marcus Oborn

Shakespeare, Rhetoric, and the Voice: Essential Skills for the Contemporary Australian Actor
05 MAY 2023
12.30 PM - 2.00 PM

My research will explore how embodied rhetorical and vocal training benefits an actor's rehearsal process for a Shakespearean play supports a greater level of detail and safety in their work. There exists a wealth of literature which discusses the links between Shakespeare's writing and the need for an actor to work on their voice to assist in speaking it with clarity and impact, as well as an abundance of texts which speak to the relationship between Shakespeare's writing and rhetoric. The voice texts do indeed provide detail on engaging with some forms of rhetoric, but there is no guide which explicitly outlines how understanding rhetorical form and enabling it through intensive vocal training can increase the ease and efficiency with which an actor rehearses and performed Shakespearean plays. I seek to bridge this gap by bringing the two existing fields of Shakespeare and rhetoric, and Shakespeare and the voice together.

The processes and methods of voice training for actors used today were developed across the second half of the twentieth century, by Cicely Berry, Kristin Linklater, and Patsy Rodenburg, with their practices and respective published texts being standard in actor training programs across the world. As I observe voice training reduce in actor training programs nationally and internationally, I seek to understand how to reinvigorate these practices in professional rehearsal room settings for Shakespearean plays, to ensure that actors are still provided with the appropriate mentorship and skills in their career. I will analyse and test the practices developed by Berry, Linklater, and Rodenburg to assess their impact in a contemporary Australian context, so that I may develop an updated model of practice which can be applied in actor training and professional theatre settings across Australia. In this way, I both pay homage to the contributions made by Berry, Linklater, and Rodenburg, and also work towards building a model of practice suitable to contemporary Australian contexts through a union of historical pedagogy and contemporary practice.

I will affirm that an effective activation of rhetoric cannot be achieved without intensive vocal training, and that the practices of voice work and rhetoric are dependent on each other. I assert that professional actors rehearsing and performing a Shakespearean play must have an intimate knowledge of each practice in order to engage with the truth of the text and their character's experience. By equipping actors with a vast arsenal of voice and text skills, I anticipate they will approach and practice Shakespearean text with greater clarity, impact, and ease, and with reduced tension on their body, breath and voice.

For more information, please email the Graduate Research School or phone 0746 31 1088.