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Cicely Berry

Cicely Frances Berry CBE (born May 17, 1926) is the voice director of the Royal Shakespeare Company & is world-renowned in her work as a voice & text coach, having spent many years as an instructor at London's Central School of Speech & Drama. She has conducted workshops all over the globe as well as in prisons, using Shakespeare as a vessel to find confidence in speaking & response to imagery. She has spoken about being able to find pleasure in being articulate through Shakespeare & poetry. It puts actors in touch with their imagination, & therefore, can lead them to their own greater self-awareness. 

Cicely Berry’s exercises tend to be based on resistance & rougher, physical work. One of her favorite quotes is from Thomas Kyd’s play The Spanish Tragedy: “Where words prevail not, violence prevails.”

Cicely has written & contributed to many books, articles & publications over the years & her seminal works read by all voice coaches as well as a large percentage of actors are:

  • Voice and the Actor (1973)
  • Your Voice and How to Use It
  • The Actor and the Text
  • Text in Action
  • Word Play: A Textual Handbook for Directors and Actors

She has also received honours & accolades over the years including:

  • 1985 - Received OBE
  • 1992 - Nominated for special award by Arts Council for her ‘response to the challenges posed by a technologically diverse and increasingly multi-cultural environment.’
  • 1997 – Doctor Honoris, National Academy of Film and Theatre Arts, Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 1999 – Honorary Doctorate of Literature from Birmingham University
  • 2000 – The Sam Wanamaker Prize for pioneering work in theatre
  • 2001 – Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the Open University
  • 2009 - Berry was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours. 

Cicely Berry continues to be a major force in voice teaching both in the UK & worldwide.

N.B - This article is about Cicely Berry's work in the field of voice. We do not represent or have any specific associations or affiliations with Ms Berry or any of the other practitioners we have articles about in the Knowledge Centre area of our website.

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