Once again I have returned from a Liz Mills voice class inspired, delighted and excited. I was reminded today of how influenced I have been by the work we have done; I spent the Grahamstown festival listening to many of the actors’ voices and seeing how consciously they were working with them.

Many actors are stuck in their voices. Many actors have bad vocal habits, over stress, or have developed a very small range of expression. I saw an actress who, because of her huge physical size, had chosen a teeny voice to compensate. I heard actors who were not being kind to their voices with harsh stresses and sore throats. I heard actors whose voices were not in their bodies. And I heard actors who were getting their voices, their unique, individual sounds to really work for them.

I was lucky to see the results of Liz’s work so acutely in Mark Hoeben’s performance in Sadako. Mark, who was at drama school with me, has also been attending these awesome classes, and the work has so paid off. Because he is a puppeteer in Sadako all his performance is through his voice. And what he produces is an almost unrecognisable pitch, vocal quality and range, giving him a sincerity, compassion and connectedness without being an inch sentimental. It’s as if he has taken all the work, all the notes, all the observations and put them directly into practice right there.

So bravo to Mark and bravo to Liz.