Where does the time go?
So I haven’t been writing VoiceGuy for the past few years. What have I been up to instead?
I have been, occasionally, working with my friend and colleague, Phil Thompson from UC Irvine, on a podcast called Glossonomia. We record irregularly, though we are hoping to get back to work on it this coming week. The idea for the show is to introduce the phones / phonemes of the International Phonetic Alphabet and the Lexical Sets associated with those phones. Phil is, of course, a veritable fount of knowledge, being one half of the team behind Knight-Thompson Speechwork.
What else have I been up to? Well, I do a fair bit of coaching in Toronto. 2011 was a busy year for me. My work in theatre was focused on fairly major projects. For Crows Theatre, I coached the remount of Anton Piatigorski’s Eternal Hydra, for which David Ferry had won a Dora award in 2010. At the 2011 Dora’s, the production of Blasted that I coached for Buddies in Bad Times in 2010 won Best Production. In the spring, I coached my largest project to date, The Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman he once Loved in the Former Soviet Union, by David Greig, at Canadian Stage. The play required accents from Edinburgh, France, London, India, Russia, etc. The Fall saw me coaching the African actors in Canadian Stage’s remount of Volcano’s Another Africa. Finally, I coached a short film by Sara Mitchell for the Canadian Film Centre’s Writer’s Lab.
In the summer, I presented at the VASTA conference in Chicago IL on the process of running a voice related podcast by doing a LIVE episode of Glossonomia. Also, I served as a peer-reviewer for the Voice and Speech Review published at the conference.
My service to the Dept. of Theatre for the past three years has been focused mostly on my significant role as Acting Area Coordinator, which can be pretty heavy duty. I am also supporting the development of content for the Theatre Department’s (still in process) new website design. This year, I took on the role of Graduate Program Director for the MFA programs in Theatre.
I have been serving in one way or another the Voice and Speech Trainers community through VASTA since 1997 when I became the Director of Internet Services. My service to the organization came to an end when I finished my term in 2010 as the Chair of the VASTA Endowment Grants and Awards Committee. I continue to be involved in the VASTA conference each year and through its listserv, VASTAVOX.
My teaching at York is primarily in the undergraduate program. In the past I have taught every level of the undergraduate acting conservatory, but slowly, over time, that has been a little reduced. At York, we have a general first (aka Freshman) year for all theatre students, and then students audition to enter the BFA program in their second (Sophomore) year. I now teach the introductory year, and the Fall term of their final (Senior) Year, which focuses primarily on accents and dialects. I also teach speech and accents to the MFA students by team teaching with my colleague, David Smukler.I continue to teach a speech and dialects seminar on a formal basis to the Graduate Voice Teacher Diploma Students (Concurrent and Stand Alone programs).
Outside of York my teaching is primarily in the area of private coaching/teaching. I work with actors on accent modification and accent acquisition, usually for a specific production. My ongoing mentorship of Alumni from our program is a frequent thing, supporting people via email, helping with vocal coaching questions, problem solving on teaching issues, helping with professional development and job search questions.
My wife and I received the 2010 Yes I Can Parent Award from the Council for Exceptional Children, Chapter 56 for advocating for our children, Ben and Noah, who are both on the Autism Spectrum. In November 2010 we received the Ontario-wide version of this award as well at a ceremony in Niagara Falls.
So I haven’t exactly been slacking off, at least not in ALL areas of my life! I am blessed to have the work opportunities that I do, to work with my exceptional colleagues, and to interact with my students each week.