Editors note: Here at Vital Voice Training, we believe in empowering all voices. With #myvoiceis we want to talk about what you are PROUD of about your voice and the people who have contributed to who you are. We are giving away a three session package to encourage people to spread the love, not the criticism! Details here: vitalvoicetraining.com/myvoiceis
As we come to the end of our contest, we would like to introduce Actor, Physical Comedian and Puppeteer (who can not only perform, but build the stage too) Ariel Lauryn. Take it away!
“Voice” can be interpreted in a variety of ways, from just the literal sound of it, to the broader sense of types often categorized by vocabulary, to the more metaphorical essence of what you put out into the world. As I am a terribly verbose individual anyway, I answered the questions for both my Literal Voice and my Metaphorical Voice (Type of voice is mixed in between the two).
My Voice Is…
Literal Voice: Loud. Passionate. Enthusiastic. Rich. Especially when I get heated about something. Which is often.
Metaphorical Voice: Sassy. Spunky. Snarky. Sarcastic. Optimistically cynical. Forwardly awkward. Jarringly upfront. And, when I allow myself to be, it’s Crass, Biting, and Fucking Clever.
The thing I love most about my voice is…
Literal Voice: … its versatility. I can use it in so many ways.
Metaphorical Voice: …its versatility. I feel like I can speak to and with anyone.
Both: I am grateful for the freedom it affords me. When I have a need, I can express it (the trick is articulation).
The thing I hate most about my voice is…
Literal Voice: Well, I don’t really hate anything about it. I would like to be able to do more with it, but that’s on me to practice.
Metaphorical Voice: …I get scared of hurting or scaring people, so I often say less than I want.
When is a time you felt really proud about speaking up?
Literal Voice: I’m proud every time I go on stage or talk to a group of people, and use my voice at full volume with full earnestness and emotion, holding nothing back.
Metaphorical Voice: Oy. This is an ongoing thing. I’m most proud when I speak up for myself. Speaking up for others is an honor, it’s a privilege that I can do it, and it is a duty; it can be intimidating (and probably should be), but when I believe in the people I’m speaking up for, that belief pushes me forward. It’s speaking up for myself that is still challenging. Particularly when I’m asking for more…of anything: money, attention, time, space, respect…love.
What other languages do you speak? (This can be an actual language, or used more metaphorically).
Literal: Spanish. And I love speaking Spanish. The sound, the rhythm, the feel of it in my mouth…
Metaphorical: Soft caretaker, fierce defender, one-of-the-boys, one-of-the-girls, encouraging mentor, curious student, smart-ass know-it-all, fed-up fuck-up. Working on: bold, humble, loving warrior.
Who is the person who has most influenced your voice?
Literal Voice: Hm. Probably my parents, in both senses. I was raised doing theater, so projecting and enunciating was a part of growing up. Therefore, all of my theater teachers and choir teachers also had a terrific influence.
Manners were important (for which I am ever grateful), and speaking clearly was a matter of respect to the listener (and to oneself). Oh! And whining was not allowed. In any way. At all. Whining meant you were going to get the opposite of what you wanted.
I did and do admire the deep, rich tones of Billie Holiday. For whatever reason, I always wanted my voice to be deeper, richer. I wanted to be the alto in choir rather than the soprano—tenor, if I could manage. I don’t really know why. I do know that I never wanted to be seen as a girly-girl, and I associated that with high-pitched tones. Not that this is true, it’s just what I thought when I was 7.
Metaphorical Voice: Again, my parents; probably my mother more, because she is a woman. She is a nurse practitioner, and she takes such time and care in talking with her patients, speaking to them with equal authority and humility, so that they feel empowered about what is going on with their health (which can often be scary and unknown). She talks to the whole person, seeking and connecting to that which is human and universal. She also has the loudest laugh and the loudest bark; don’t mess with Mama Bear. My father’s voice, on the other hand, is quieter (sometimes to the frustration of my mother), but not any less strong. The prominent qualities of his voice are earnestness, patience, and integrity. The dad jokes are strong in this one.
If you could speak to your younger self about her voice, what would you tell her?
Talking to me at ages 6 to 10:
Literal Voice: Voices are the coolest. Yours is totally awesome. Aren’t silly sounds the best? And accents—keep doing them, all of the time. Don’t be bashful about it. Keep playing around with your voice—you’re going to learn so much about what you can do with it as you go!
Metaphorical Voice: You know more than you think you know. And everyone else can tell that about you right away, for better and for worse.
Ariel is an MFA Graduate of Dell’Arte International, has studied with ACT (American Conservatory Theater), Guthrie Summer Training Program, and various clown instructors, including Ronlin Foreman of Dell’Arte, Aitor Bassauri of Spy Monkeys, and Gabriel Levy of The Funny School of Good Acting, and Zachary Fine. In NYC, she has performed with The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show (Acorn Theater), The Talking Band, Columbia Stages, Stegosaurus Theater, LES Shakespeare and Co., The Ume Group, and Lady Fest at The Tank. She also create original works, ranging from clown shorts to a webseries, Illuminutty, to a physical comedy one-act, Whether We Like It or Not. That show has performed at Flint and Tinder (The Tank) in NYC, Mad River Festival (Dell’Arte), the New Orleans Fringe Festival ’14, and CalArts.
Puppet-wise, she has built, performed, and taught with The Puppet Kitchen, created pieces and performed for Puppet Playlist (Sinkingship Productions, Triskelion Arts), puppeteered for the short film The Neverbell, and hand-acted in web commercials with VaynerMedia.
As an Associate Artist of Built4Collapse, The Ume Group, and LES Shakes, she creates new works, coaches Movement, and leads workshops in Play and Improv. ariellauryn.com