by user on April 29, 2017

Linklater Language: Images and Meanings from English to German

By Andrea Haring

Lmichael-heidi-barbara-and-andreaast summer I traveled to Frauenchiemsee – a very lovely part of Germany. It is an island set in the middle of a pristine lake right next to the Austrian Alps.

My colleagues Michael, Heidi and Barbara and I were there to complete the training of the newest group of German Linklater Teacher Trainees and designate them as teachers. An important part of the teacher
training process is that the trainees must teach the voice work to a new group of practice students while the senior teachers watch to make sure they are embodying the work as they lead the exercises, and that they
give the instructions using language that is very specific. In teaching the work or leading a warm-up, we use language meant to evoke the sensory, experiential world through the use of images in order to bring our
voice away from our ears listening and into a whole body experience of feeling.

Kristin Linklater writes in her book Freeing the Natural Voice:
“A word or a phrase or a sentence is like a pebble that, when thrown into the pool of the body-mind, sets up ripples that disturb the waters. The waters? Physical, sensory, sensual, and emotional energies.”

In his book The Feeling of What Happens, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio writes: “Language – that is, words and sentences – is a translation of something else, a conversion from nonlinguistic images, which stand for entities, events, relationships and inferences.”

So as voice teachers we are invested in seeing how certain images, created by the language used, can evoke very specific connections and responses between our bodies, voices, and inner psychological and emotional worlds.  Also of interest is to see whether or not certain words or images translate over to different cultures. This has come up quite a bit here in Fraueninsel – the trainees all speak German of course, and their cultural heritage and the language they use naturally form an essential part of how they relate to themselves, their world, and this voice work. Kristin Linklater’s use of imagery is based on her use of the English language as a Scotswoman who lived in the UK and the USA. But in speaking with Michael Petermann – a German Linklater teacher who is in the process of updating a new German translation of Freeing the Natural Voice, it is clear that many of the phrases that originated in English just don’t reach deeply enough or give a clear context into the German experience.  Because of this the German teachers and trainees are in the process of finding the phrases and words that can allow them to free their essentially German voice.

One example that is at the heart of our work is the phrase “the touch of sound” which is how the initial contact with sound vibrations is described.  The touch of sound has several meanings – it is the physical experience of sound vibrating in the body as if it were a physical touch, a tactile experience; and it means as well to be touched or emotionally affected by something (as in: “you really touched me when you said that”).  It also conveys the sense that we are not sighing deeply or vocalizing in an active way – we are just touching sound vibrations in the easiest, clearest, and most directly personal way.  I really enjoy the idea that I am being touched (connected to my experience) and touching (feeling a physical connection to) sound vibration at the same time.

Michael Petermann says that in the original German translation of Freeing the Natural Voice (done by Thea Mertz in 1994), this phrase was translated exactly into German, which for her was “Die Berührung des Tons” which means “the touch of tones”.  Michael said: “I felt as if this phrase sent me into my head without knowing why.  “Ton” has many connotations in German such as: “Nicht in diesem Ton!” or “not in this tone” and “der gute Ton” meaning a rather old-fashioned, socially acceptable attitude or good behavior – both phrases suggesting to him a kind of judgmental quality. “These do not seem like phrases that would be an invitation to open one’s self “ Michael explained rather wryly.  Also, the word itself – “Ton” – has a sound that is more closed, with the lips rounded.  Then Michael, who is also a musician, realized that “Ton” in physics refers to 440 Hertz or a sound without any harmonics – an artificial sound with but one single oscillation, like a sine wave, that does not exist in nature.  He explained that when you pluck a string on a violin you would hear overtones, octaves, and the resonance of sound in the instrument. This sound in German is called “Klang”.  Michael remarked “In the Linklater work the touch of sound is when vibrations get already amplified and resonated through the body – I realized the resulting sound is a “Klang”.  If I say touch of sound without any reflection of what it means, it has no relevance – you take it for granted. I had to figure out the connotations in German so the work can affect us on a deeper level.”

I find it fascinating that for Michael, it is essential for him to shift his verbiage to feel organically connected to his work – not only in getting a more precise meaning, but to empower his German identity to come through as he teaches, and to elicit a more fundamental response in his students. It has made me take a closer look at my own language and why I feel deeply satisfied by certain images or phrases when I lead a voice warm-up. There are moments when the words that guide my students through an exercise just feel organically right.

andrea-and-michael-at-gstadt

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Spring

by user on April 9, 2017

spring-newsletter“One of the greatest virtues of gardening is this perpetual renewal of youth and spring, of promise of flower and fruit that can always be read in the open book of the garden, by those with an eye to see, and a mind to understand.”
E.A. Bowles (British Horticulturalist), My Garden in Spring

“The neuro-physiological pathways connecting words with the sensory apparatus of the body and with nature have not disappeared, but they have been short-circuited as the technology of communication has “progressed”. It is not difficult to re-wire the circuitry…to awaken dormant energies of speech and tap into subterranean channels that may reverberate with unsuspected, sub-verbal meaning. By indulging sensory, sensual, emotional and physical responses to vowels and consonants – the component parts of words – we begin to resurrect the life of language.”
Kristin Linklater, Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice
A Message From Andrea:
I think the image of a garden is a familiar and fitting metaphor for our journey as artists. Similar to a gardener, nurturing our gardens of expressiveness requires patience, a connection to the natural world as well as hooking in to our inner natures, knowledge in what one is working towards and mindfulness in where the weeds are and when to water – which in our case as speakers and performers means tracking where our inhibiting tensions lodge so we can undo them to encourage more freedom and pleasure in speaking.
Just as a garden needs the essentials: water, good soil and fertilizer, so too have we included the essentials of developing your voice in our Spring Session with Freeing the Natural Voice Levels 1 and 2 and in the Natural Voice Level 2 Weekend Workshop. The next step in your development is bringing your voice that is free, strong and expressive to an exploration of text and performance. We have the Acting the Text class where you can connect the essentials of Linklater with Stanislavsky; the Advanced Voice and Text workshop; and our popular annual workshop: the 6-day Intensive – Voice, Body, Shakespeare (you must submit your photo and resume to apply to Voice, Body, Shakespeare.)
So come to The Linklater Center for Voice and Language this Spring to grow your garden and enjoy your journey as you begin to bloom!
Best wishes,

Andrea Haring
Executive Director

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Inspiration from the US Open

September 5, 2016

By Andrea Haring I just watched an incredible match on my TV between Venus Williams and Karolina Pliskova at the US Open.  And although both women played really excellent tennis, and though Pliskova eventually took the victory, my heart was won by Venus Williams.  I sat glued to my screen as she played a truly [...]

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Congratulations to the 2016 German Designees!

August 18, 2016

By Andrea Haring The Linklater Community recently graduated nine new Designated Linklater Teachers in Frauenchiemsee, Germany! These trainees hailed from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Ireland, and had been studying for years – getting to know the voice progression with their Designated Teachers.  Some had also taken workshops with me in Bayreuth or New York City, [...]

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Developing Awareness

August 13, 2016

“Great acting is not about putting on disguises and being something you’re not. Great acting is about taking off, stripping off the masks we all wear, to reveal the human being inside…Good actors make us forget that we’re in the theater; they persuade us that we’re watching something truthful, something real. But they have to [...]

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Cottages, Crofts, Estates, and Wills

July 6, 2016

From Andrea Haring In May, I traveled to the UK – specifically Stratford-upon-Avon, to try some first-hand research of Shakespeare’s world for my classes. Of course I had to go to Shakespeare’s family home where he was born and raised.  Here in the master bedroom is a bed similar to the one that Shakespeare bequeathed [...]

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Voice, Body, Shakespeare – Summer 2016

June 19, 2016

JUST FINISHED A WONDERFUL WEEK  – WITH A GREAT GROUP – IN THE WORLD OF THE BARD!  

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My Interest in Grit

May 27, 2016

Andrea Haring I’ve come into contact lately with several people who are interested in Grit.  In fact, one woman who participated in my Professional Women’s Workshop was even pursuing her Master’s degree using the study of Grit as demonstrated by Opera singers.  One definition describes Grit as: “… a positive trait based on an individual’s [...]

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CONNECT, BE PRESENT – FACE THE UNKNOWN

June 30, 2014

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet Traveling through casual space Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns To a destination where all signs tell us It is possible and imperative that we learn A brave and startling truth Maya Angelou – A Brave and Startling Truth (1995) The actor must [...]

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