Julia holds a BFA Acting (University of Windsor), a B.Ed (Queen’s University) and an MFA Acting and Voice Teaching diploma (York University). Her twenty years of acting credits include work at the Stratford Festival and classical and contemporary roles in regional theatres. Julia also has ten years’ experience teaching and coaching in voice, speech, and text at such institutions as the National Theatre School of Canada, the Prince Edward Island Conservatory, and Michigan State University. She has guest taught text and dialects at the Institute for Higher Learning (MFA Program) at Harvard University. She completed Shakespeare text training with Andrew Wade (Royal Shakespeare Company) and Patsy Rodenburg (National Theatre, London). Julia is now a full-time professional coach in film and theatre. Recent film and video game projects include: On the Road, Immortals, Voyez Comme Ils Dansent, and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.
My passion for teaching voice, speech, and text stems from my professional acting experience and my desire to encourage students to discover and develop effective communication skills, which helps them build self-esteem and develop their ability to articulate ideas for critical thinking and express feelings both for themselves and to others. I believe creative language skills are important basic life skills. I believe in the need to encourage the correct, imaginative, and creative use of language. I wish to encourage, in students, a respect for and a physical understanding of the tactile sense of language through classical language, namely Shakespeare’s language. Language skills for contemporary times can be discovered, challenged, and made one’s own by delving into, playing with, and sounding through Shakespeare’s imagination and language.
Shakespeare’s plays were written to be SPOKEN. People went to HEAR a play, not to see one. Verbal and physical activities let students begin to discover a tactile, onomatopoeic, and kinaesthetic connection to words and phrases, even those that, at first, don’t make intellectual “sense.” These creativity-based exercises encourage students to sustain concentration, use analytical thinking skills to consider character and situations from various points of view, and foster a sense of empathy because imaginary characters and situations often serve as illustrations of real experiences, allowing students to view a situation “from the outside looking in.” After this workshop students will have used their bodies to move in new rhythms and shapes, their imagination to picture a different epoch, their intellect to understand new words and ideas, and their voices to communicate new colours of thoughts and emotions. This is precisely my aim and this is how an actor works.
Other examples of activities
If the class is studying a particular Shakespearean play, then this play will be the centre of study for the workshop. Activities include: As a warm-up, Shakespearean Insults, taken directly from specific plays. Meanings of words are clarified and then a multi-tiered game ensues where, eventually, classically phrased insults are hurled, like a ball, at the other team with clarity, precision, and humour! The fear of “archaic” language melts away. Text work is deepened with focus on specific lines, a short scene, or a monologue (depending on the grade level). Students will explore their own truth in the text by echoing words that intuitively affect them, hearing the momentum of the text word-by-word and in groups, moving and physically shaping the sounds and words, and stepping or clapping to the iambic rhythm. Stretching and quite literally “chewing” the sounds of the words and phrases can open up both the intellectual and tactile understanding of the lines. Freeze-framing the action of thoughts and verse lines, as group tableaux, to “see” what is happening and to “see” the meaning of the words can also bring the words to life.
A classroom where the desks can be moved out of the way so students have space to move.
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Secondary 1, Secondary 2, Secondary 3, Secondary 4, Secondary 5