At a recent FIU event, Department of Theatre faculty members Rebecca Covey and Michael Yawney had a conversation with School of Music (SOM) conductor Dr. Brenton Alston about a possible future collaboration between the two departments. Consequently, it was no surprise when Dr. Alston approached Rebecca with an invitation to read a poem for the SOM’s Wind and Percussion Arts Series, paying tribute to the late Dr. Maya Angelou, on October 8. Instead of doing a reading for the performance, Rebecca, the department’s Voice and Speech professor, chose to coach three of our talented students – Madeleine Escarne (BFA Performance), Krystal Aleman (BFA Performance) and Adele Robinson (BA) – so that they could participate in her place.
Preparing the students for their readings took Rebecca over a week. They began by familiarizing themselves with the acoustics of the space and selecting the poems to be read. Rebecca then worked with each student individually; after warm-up exercises, they were encouraged to allow themselves to be affected by the imagery of their poems and to find personal meaning in each piece. They worked on discovering and utilizing variety in their voices as well as maintaining energy throughout a piece.
Rebecca has been with the Department of Theatre for the past 3 years. She has worked as a professional actress since age 14 and holds a BFA in Acting from University of California, Santa Barbara and an MFA from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Additionally, she is a Designated Linklater Voice teacher, a certification which requires 4-5 years of training. When asked why she pursued a certification that took so long to obtain, her response was, “as an actor, I have always felt that my way into character was through voice, but I always bumped into walls because of my voice. I soon learned that Linklater Voice work would make me more easily heard and understood. I could be more connected to my voice and self. Working this way is liberating for me as an actor.” Also noteworthy is the fact that Rebecca was the Voice and Dialect Director for the Department’s recent production of An Ideal Husband. She trained eleven students to maintain a British dialect for the two hour production.
The theatre students were honored to read the poetry of Dr. Angelou and pay tribute to someone for whom they have such great admiration. They unanimously agreed that it was a wonderful experience and they were most appreciative of Rebecca for her training. The department looks forward to future collaborations with our neighbors, SOM.