CAPE GIRARDEAU, MISSOURI, Jan. 27, 2015 – With more than 20 years under her belt as a professional actress as well as instructor, Roxanne Wellington, assistant professor of acting and voice, brings her experiences to the Department of Theatre and Dance at Southeast Missouri State University.
The expertise Wellington has garnered over the years will help students develop their voices for departmental productions as well as their future careers.
“I think many of us take our voice for granted. We aren’t aware of how much it conveys about us, or if we are, we aren’t sure what to do with this incredible gift. We aren’t connecting to our breath, and if the breathing is inhibited, the voice will be as well. Some of us may mumble or rush because we feel ‘our voice’ or what we have to say isn’t as important as someone else’s voice or thought. We also hold our breath and our throat gets tight when we are nervous. Others speak loudly and forcefully with ‘bluster’ to try to overpower and intimidate in lieu of true power. It’s fascinating stuff, letting our authentic voice speak (metaphorically and literally) can be a very frightening thing. However, for an actor, to reveal yourself and allow for vulnerability is essential – and therein lies tremendous strength,” said Wellington.
Her courses for the semester include two sections of Acting and Voice for the Stage II, and she will serve as the dialect coach in “Daisy Pulls It Off,” a production centered on 1920s British boarding school girls scheduled for an April 29-May 3 run in the Wendy Kurka Rust Flexible Theatre at Southeast’s River Campus.
Through her teaching, she hopes her students understand key elements of the speaking voice as well as embrace their creativity through their performances.
“There are technical elements that I want my students to know such as what the diaphragm does, and why the hyoid bone is important (I love the story of the hyoid bone!), but I want them to remember that the biggest tool for an actor is their imagination,” says Wellington. “This is especially true for the voice. Imagery and imagination are ways to tap into vocal expression, specificity and nuance.”
Wellington received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wright State University and her Master of Fine Arts from Wayne State University’s Hilberry Repertory Theatre. She has also studied under voice instructors Cicely Berry, Patsy Rodenburg, Dudley Knight and Catherine Fitzmaurice.
“I hope to pass on the wisdom and skills that I have gleaned from them, but perhaps more importantly to empower my students that these are pathways and techniques to help them find their own way. One thing I like to do is teach them the International Phonetic Alphabet kinesthetically, through phonetic pillows. Having something tactile so the symbols can be touched literally is a sensory experience. I found the students learn the symbols much quicker and more importantly, retain them longer than writing them only. We also embody the sounds physically throughout the body. It’s not Henry Higgins,” said Wellington.
Throughout her professional career, Wellington has taught theatre, voice and movement at Central Michigan University, Oakland University, Wayne State University and the University of Pennsylvania. She has also performed in the Indiana Repertory Theatre, the Kimmel Center, the Jewish Ensemble Theatre and Performance Network Theatre. Wellington received the Detroit News Best Actress award for her role as Viola in Twelfth Night under the direction of Stratford Festival of Canada’s Artistic Director, Antoni Cimolino. A few of her favorite roles include; Blanche in “A Streetcar Named Desire” at Florida Atlantic’s Summer Festival, Queen Elizabeth in “Richard III” at Oklahoma Shakespeare Festival, Lady Macbeth at Meadow Brook Theatre and Mae in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”