"Speake, Breathe, Discusse" : Towards a critical breath pedagogy for speaking Shakespeare

  • Denis Cryer-Lennon

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The purpose of this thesis is to establish a foundation for a critical breath pedagogy for speaking Shakespeare. It examines the practical implications of applying ideas of breath training for speaking Shakespeare rooted in British voice trainin⋅g in a university context. In addition to the drawing on literature and my own pedagogic practice, the methods used are interviews with voice coaches, and observation of a series of workshops as carried out by the researcher. The workshop series, which was entitled ‘A Breath Pedagogy for Speaking Shakespeare’,explored the themes and ideas that emerged from the interviews and wider voice studies and practice. In doing so, this research explores the understanding and centrality of breath and breath training to speaking Shakespeare.
    More specifically, this PhD thesis performs four key things: 
    - It examines the significance of, and historical perspectives on, breath within actor training for speaking Shakespeare.
    - It makes the case for reframing breath training as a critical pedagogy with specific reference to speaking Shakespeare. 
    - It positions breath training as an inclusive learning strategy for speaking Shakespeare.
    - Finally, it explores how a breath pedagogy for speaking Shakespeare might fit into/work alongside existing pedagogies for speaking Shakespeare.

    This thesis builds on an existing discourse around breath training for acting and performance, as exemplified and extended by the contributors to Breath In Action: The Art of Breath in Vocal and Holistic Practice (Boston & Cook, 2009). Despite the current presence of breath work in actor training programmes there lacks a comprehensive study regarding the relationship between the pedagogy that is born from training the breath and the act of speaking Shakespeare. There also lacks a discussion of the place of criticality within the pedagogy. This thesis seeks to address these gaps in the scholarship.
    Date of Award2022
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMichael Carklin (Supervisor), Marta Minier (Supervisor) & Jesse Schwenk (Supervisor)

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