Fitzmaurice Voicework Master Class concludes successfully

15 January 2018

From 1 to 11 January 2018, the Fitzmaurice Voicework Master Class was held at the Shanghai Theater Academy as scheduled. This master class was initiated by Professor He Yan, Chair of the International Performing Arts Research Center of the Shanghai Theater Academy and Dean of the Acting Department of the Shanghai Theater Academy. This master class was the first time that Fitzmaurice Voicework had landed in China.

Ms Catherine Fitzmaurice, originator of Fitzmaurice Voicework, and her son, Mr Saul Kotzubei, master teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework and Director of The Fitzmaurice Institute, as well as their two assistants, provided a 9-day training course to over 40 students during which they demonstrated in a focused and comprehensive way the core elements of this voice training method whose footprints are all over the six continents of the world.

On 1 January, Ms Catherine Fitzmaurice and Mr Saul Kotzubei held an open lecture at the Shanghai Theatre Academy Library and introduced the core elements of Fitzmaurice Voicework. Professor He Yan, Dean of the Acting Department of the Shanghai Theatre Academy, said that the first visit to China by Ms Fitzmaurice was the result of joint efforts by multiple parties. During the 9-day training course, Ms Fitzmaurice and Mr Kotzubei, together with their respective assistants, alternated in leading the two classes and provided the students with the step-by-step training focusing on "Deconstruction" and "Reconstruction", the core concepts of Fitzmaurice Voicework. In the "Deconstruction" stage, the teachers used 14 specially designed postures to lead the students to find the "tremor" of the body and enable the students to allow and maintain the free breathing of the body while releasing the tension of muscles at the same time, thereby enhancing their awareness of the various parts of the body, especially the spine. In the second half of the master class, the training gradually involved the text, and the training of communication between the opponents was increased. And, the consciousness of "breathing" was emphasized throughout the training course of the master class.

After the completion of the last day of the master class, Ms Fitzmaurice issued the certificates singed personally by her and other three teachers to the students and staff members. The students and theory researchers surrounded the teachers to take group photos and express their gratitude and reluctance to say goodbye.

Professor Huang Changyong, President of the Shanghai Theater Academy, also experienced the training course for a half day. Mr Kotzubei expressed the thanks for the high degree of importance that the Shanghai Theatre Academy had attached to this master class. The students of the master class included not only teachers and scholars of the Shanghai Theatre Academy, but also teachers and actors from People’s Liberation Arm Arts College, Communication University, Beijing Dance Academy, Beijing Union University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and National Theatre of China. The theory researchers included those from domestic institutions and those from the University of London (UK), University of the Arts London’s London College of Communication (UK), Philippe Gaulier Theatre School (France) and University of Southampton (UK). The theory researchers who were openly recruited not only were present throughout the training course to observe the training process and participate in the classroom interaction, but also carried out one-on-one interviews with the students after the completion of the master class.

At present, the study of Fitzmaurice Voicework is almost blank in China. Therefore, the introduction of Fitzmaurice Voicework into China on this occasion by the International Performing Arts Research Center of Shanghai Theater Academy is of pioneering significance. The students and theory researchers of this master class came from educational institutions and other units in different areas of China, and their exchange and interaction with Fitzmaurice Voicework has provided new inspiration for the localized development of this voice training method in China. These artists, theater lovers and performing arts educators will bring what they themselves have learnt and seen in the master class back to their own cities, schools, stages and classrooms where they will show Fitzmaurice Voice to more people as another possible way of voice training. In this regard, Professor He Yan regarded Ms Fitzmaurice as an "inventor". And, the introduction of Fitzmaurice Voicework was an effort made for the emergence of more "inventors" in China. As a complete system, Ms Fitzmaurice’s voice training method, which has not only kept the core but also kept pace with the times, may provide us with a new way of thinking.