QUOTES OVER STEMWERK EN JEAN-RENE TOUSSAINT
“He is as pure a source of voice as any I have encountered since my experiences with Roy and the Roy Hart Theatre”.
Jonathan Hart (Roy Hart International Theatre)
“A wonderful and enlightening workshop for anybody who is interested in the voice. I recommend it heartily”.
Kristin Linklater (Head Theater-department Columbia University NYC)
“This work is to be considered groundbreaking in the fields of health, psychology and in the theatre and I highly recommend it. I am impressed with Jean-René’s theories and their practical applications and find this work to be some of the most challenging and illuminating work with the voice I have ever found”.
Paula Langton (Head of Voice & Speech Boston University for the Arts)
“What Jean-René does is to bring back the vivid and vital energy in this rigide and structured society.”
Manfred van Doorn (Anthroposophist, Psychologist & Therapist)
“The Class given by Jean-René was so amazing that the students could never stop talking about it. He just told them what they needed to hear and they feel eternally grateful for that.”
Larry Sacharow (Head Art Department Fordham University / NYC)
“Jean-René’s work is not centered on making pretty voices nor is it simply training for artists. It is instead a deeply personal work on accessing more of oneself, through the voice. It is work for everyone.”
Vernice Miller (artist, ALATetc artistic Director / NYC)
“Jean-Rene Toussaint is a master theatre teacher. I rarely use this word but Jean-Rene awakens his students’ souls. After studying with him they are sensitive, almost like animals, to a full experience of life in all its colors, nuances and beauties. Though the work starts and ends with the voice, it is, for me, primarily about experiencing greater and greater degrees of freedom, personally and artistically. His students are transformed by his classes. After working with Jean-Rene for 2 years at the Pig Iron School, I saw our students mature, awaken, dare to assert themselves, risk everything onstage and draw audiences in to corners of human experience that are often hidden or ignored. Jean-Rene was instrumental in pushing each student to the edges of themselves, yielding artists of great depth. He is a one-of-a-kind in a world of far too many duplicates”
Quinn Beauridel (Co-founder and Co-Artistic Director of Pig Iron Theatre and Director of the Advanced Training Performance Theatre School – Philadelphia)
”The physical and vocal exercises Jean-René Toussaint brings to rehearsal focus actors on listening to each other, discovering the imagination of the body rather than merely of the mind. Jean-René’s work enables actors’ voices to move fluidly through various resonators of the body, connecting to physical movement and emotion.
Actors exposed to Jean-René quickly become aware of each other, creating immediate connections. They work together as a collaborative collective. They become brave in their imagination and are not afraid of improvisation and experimentation. The work is very helpful in creating a company, as has been my experience directing Our Class, Angels in America and Under the Whaleback. Jean-René is now working with a company of actors developing Paula Vogel’s new play, Don Juan Comes Home from Iraq.”
Blanka Zizka (Artistic Director of the Wilma Theatre – Philadelphia)
“Jean-Rene Toussaint is the best voice teacher I have ever encountered. His method not only enables the student to understand the relationship between the voice and the body, but more importantly, it lets the student finding the uniqueness of his own voice, so that the repressed emotions can be fully expressed through the voice.”
Chan Chu-hei (Artistic Director – Theatre Horizon / Hong Kong)
TEACHERS AND STUDENTS OF UNIVERSITIES IN BOSTON AND NEW YORK CITY AFTER DIFFERENT WORKSHOPS:
– “It should be required attendance for all playwrights, actors, singers, humans and especially, as someone in my class said, all world leaders. It is truly an uplifting and powerful experience, and Jean-René is a delightful, intelligent and intuitive teacher.
I cannot overstate the pleasure and growth we all experienced in the class.”
– “It was very surprising to me what I started to re-member in my body. Hard to even articulate. I felt a kind of waking up like a tremor that starts way, way deep in the earth and it slowly moves out and up layer by layer. Nothing that can really be seen on the surface and this is good for me. In any case, enormous thank you.”
– “The experience has had great resonance for me, in many ways but especially in the feeling of relaxed empowerment and centering that I’ve carried away.”
– “For years I have been battling tension in my throat and its effect on diminishing the flow of intent and overall experience of my characters, as if the shape and impact of the character was determined by how I manipulated the flow of vibrations. I really need to continue working on the vertical voice, because with it will come such an experience of genuineness, wholeness and presence that I’ve been seeking forever. I’m going to be doing Glengarry Glen Ross at the Lyric this spring and cannot wait to explore my character incorporating this new vocal awareness.”
– “It was really a transforming experience. I’ve been using the ‘let the students/audience take it from you’ approach this week and it has been very rewarding.”
– “This work sparks so much in my own pedagogy, but in really fresh and insightful ways. I don’t mean that I do what he does in my teaching. I mean it makes me think of my philosophy of teaching in some very profound ways.”
– “May I add my two cents to the Jean René Toussaint work? I did the October workshop and truly, have never experienced anything like it. It’s profoundly beautiful, powerful, healing. Jean-René says, “The voice is the sound the body makes.” It’s just amazing work. And not just for actors. We were hoping all our world leaders would do it as well. Please do yourselves the honor.”
FEEDBACK of a Workshop
PHILADELPHIA (USA)- July 2012
…20 professional actors
…10 days organized by the Wilma theater
USA, PHILADELPHIA, THEATER, WILMA, PIG IRON, WORKSHOPS, OPLEIDING, CURSUS
“Jean Rene demands nothing less than that you crack open all your defenses and habits and split yourself in two so that the group can reach in and find the primordial swamp within. At the same time he asks you to remain present and bear witness to the truth that they reveal.”
It was an amazing, frustrating, challenging, intoxicating time. I am so grateful to The Wilma, Blanka, JR, Walter… everyone who made it possible. It was a life-changing process and I look forward to seeing how it continues to affect me and my work in the coming year.
It’s hard for me to put it into words, largely because this workshop made me see and feel the inadequacy of words. (((That’s particularly disconcerting for someone who loves language so much.))) But the workshop was a huge reminder of the great potential that lies in each of us if we mine our stories. It was so many things — intrusive, infuriating and inspiring come to mind. Most of all it was enlightenment; an amazing opportunity to invest in my craft by investigating my own experiences, dreams and desires through my primitive social voice. JR is truly a great visionary, truth-teller and truth-seeker.
As for Jean-Rene’s work, I have never experienced anything like it. I have been a bit wary of training in the States, mostly because it tends to be bastardised Stanislavsky training, which is often very heady. JR’s work engages the whole body, the voice, and the emotional mechanism. He manages through the voice and body to take his students in (their habits, their strengths and limitations) and through this intense listening and his exercises he helps the actor face him or herself; he helps the actor see him or herself fully. I believe the heart of JR’s work is the expansion of the self and the group through an earnest engagement with itself. Yes, my voice feels stronger. Yes, I feel more available, more emotional. Yes, I feel like I know how to listen more fully. And yes, I have identified areas of limitation, areas in which I want to grow. However, I think JR’s work goes beyond the conventional ideas of training. He is expanding us as people, and therefore expanding us as artists.
The insight one encounters when participating in a Jean-Rene Toussaint workshop, is the kind of work every actor must experience and confront before they can ever hope to become an artist.
This summer was my third time practicing with Jean Rene, and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to delve again, more deeply, into the work. Engaging with his exercises and with the group continues to amaze, inspire and challenge me. There seems always to be a deeper level of myself to meet, another layer to surrender, a greater presence to step into.
It was so gratifying to find that my familiarity with the work allowed me to really get out of my head this time and move more fully into just exploring and experiencing, and I was delighted to discover that some ideas which previously felt perplexing or unsettling, had quietly taken root in my instrument. Whereas in the last workshop the concepts of Taking Support/Being Taken vs. Giving/Receiving had really struck a chord for me, this workshop I found the ideas of “Having No Expectations” and “Challenging Certitude” to be particularly engaging and personally relevant. They resonated strongly for me throughout the two weeks. When practicing familiar exercises, I worked hard to meet them without the expectation of previous experiences, and subsequently gained a deeper understanding of many of them – how to apply them, what they reveal about my instrument or who I am in the world.
And because we had two weeks for this workshop, there were lots of new exercises that either built and expanded on the previous work, or introduced new territory altogether. The continued explorations of the primacy of listening and our unconscious patterns felt extremely valuable, and the new work with language and dialogue, really fun and exciting.
This work, without a doubt, creates actors with a deeper sense of truth, thereby raising the level of theatrical art. Through exploring the nature of voice I have tapped into a degree of honesty which should be a standard in theatre but very often isn’t. I have found this specific type of exploration to be indispensable not only as an artist, but as a human being.
I was skeptical at first never having been one for intense group warm-ups but as the weeks progressed I found myself being affected more and more. I fought the inclination for the work to turn into therapy. Once I let that fear of self-reflection go, I was able to truly experience the benefits the exercises gave me. I was breathing better, more confident in my choices, open to feelings held at bay for so long. I’m very much looking forward to continuing my study with Jean-Rene and learning more about my instrument and what I am very much capable of.
Also, I keep having dreams where the work surfaces in whatever scenario might be happening. It’s kind of bizarre.
There is so much to say, think about, and process with respect to the experience that giving a quick, ham handed response seemed out of step with the workshop’s depth, impact, and ultimate purpose.
What moves me most in this moment was that a process, which is so necessary and essential to our development as theater artists, felt like a luxury. And Jean-Rene’s work completely destroys the mask of such thinking. We spend so much time as theater artists chasing money, grants, reviews, jobs, etc… it is very easy to lose sight of the fact that the theater is a LIVING art, charged to make connections between living people and communities. As a working director, writer, and performer over the past 20 years I was struck during the workshop by the realization that I had spent very little time just digging, honing, and exploring my voice. This is a deadly reality for the theater because the exploration of the artists’ voice IS the work. It is how the vibrancy of our collective and individual voice is mined and disseminated to the people. In a very real way the work we did with Jean-Rene is the truest, most powerful form of audience development because it extends our voices to the world in a way that births new work and subsequently calls new audiences to the theater.
Continued room must be made for theater’s to do this kind of work because it is a core part of how the theater will keep the art form alive. Without the development of The Voice, in the physical and the aesthetic sense, the theater becomes a zombie; a dead thing walking, and a puppet for corporate interests. Working with Jean-Rene and all of the other artists in the room was nothing short of a blessing, but it is my sincere hope that it would rather become “the way of things” in the Philadelphia theater community. Such work, I am certain, would spawn an explosion of new voices and known voices with exciting fresh new outlooks.
The Jean René workshop asked, answered, and asked again so many questions that finding the words to describe the power of it at the moment seems futile. So for now I will simply say it was extraordinary and pray that will suffice, for now.
I found the experience of working with Jean-René to be meaningful on several levels. Professionally, I have much to explore based on the workshop. How can this work manifest itself in my day-to-day work as an actor? How can I incorporate it into my directing? But in many ways this workshop was more about me personally. I was deeply moved by the experience, far more than I ever would have expected. I would look forward to each day of the workshop with a mix of anticipation and trepidation. So many questions, so many ideas to ponder. I was forced to face my fears, quite literally, and I am still resonating with much of what I experienced.
More than anything, I am left with questions: beautiful, terrifying, provoking questions.
This was an important and powerful experience for me and I feel I have only touched the surface of understanding my voice, my emotions and the movement that exists within my own body. The work with Jean-Rene still reverberates with me daily.
Jean-Rene’s work lead me through a vigorous and exciting investigation of body and awareness. He encouraged me to look deeply within, listen carefully and share myself generously. The work inspires curiosity and requires an immediacy and presence of mind.
There is something so essential, basic, whole and primal about Jean-Rene’s work. His investigation of voice and breath goes far beyond sound production and explores our life force. Everyday with Jean Renee brought an exciting opportunity to explore and confront the deep, low, dirty, growly places that I have politely kept hidden away and to meet and celebrate the she-dragon inside me.
During the two week workshop my middle-aged body was pain-free and responsive, liberated by all that oxygen I guess. I felt great and physically invigorated.
Jean-Rene created a space that was safe for me to stand undisguised and naked. He made a way for me to tap physical strength I didn’t know I had. He encouraged me to unleash my power, confront fears and listen lovingly to the tiny fragile tender flutters that live within.
The work with Jean Rene was thrilling celebratory, and brimming with vitality. It is nourishment for artists. Thank you for making this workshop possible. It was a real gift.
Working with Jean-Rene is rebirth. Not only in the way that we are reawakened to new things, but it is almost as if we are born again out of the womb of life into a pure and spacious universe of ceaseless possibility. He guides the ensemble like a careful and deadly angel demanding from us our lives. That we must live them in the danger of the stage.
Jean-Rene possesses a reel of the simplest phrases. He touches people with 3 word combinations. His work is therapy. His work is for building ensembles. I felt safe to be as daring and as human as possible. He also touched my life in profound ways. After his workshop the world came alive. And I realized only weeks later that it wasn’t the world that had come alive, it was me who was vibrating so much into the world. It was that I was listening to the world in a new way and this woke me up, made me excited, angered me. Made me a full human being. A dangerous animal. An actor.
I love the ensemble building capability. We all become so personally naked in front of each other. And in this nakedness we are able to fully embrace ourselves and our company.
I really can’t say enough about Jean-Rene’s work. It was the most profound experience of my life. It was also quite simple. That is the dichotomy of it.
I’ve had trouble finding the words that would possibly approach a description of this experience for me… On the first day, he made me tired. On the second, he made me sore. The third day, I was frightened, and by the fourth, I was in pain; Such pain that I could not sit or stand or walk or be still without hurting all over.
My whole body had awakened to a sensitivity I had not known before. Or perhaps I had forgotten. Heartache, jealousy, anger, betrayal, grief, power, violence, passion, others I cannot name… they crept into my consciousness, until all of the hurt I had quietly stored in secret pockets of my being emerged, searing my bones, writhing in the tissue that held them together. I was terrified to let these things be seen. To even acknowledge their existence. I wanted to do well, to be worthy, to disappear. Then, on the fifth day, he made me visible. He pressed on my back, and without warning, all of the quiet emerged. For a moment, I thought I could die. The sound was so loud. It hurtled out of me with a force I could not control. When it was over, I had been opened. I felt lighter, and my body no longer ached. The pain was gone, and I was finally ready to begin.