Cicely Berry

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Cicely Berry CBE (17 May 1926 - 15 October 2018) was a British theatre director and vocal coach. She was the voice director of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1969 to 2014.

Quotes about her[edit]

  • “Cicely Berry has based her work on the conviction that while all is present in nature our natural instincts have been crippled from birth by many processes – by the conditioning, in fact, of a warped society. So an actor needs precise exercise and clear understanding to liberate his hidden possibilities and to learn the hard task of being true to ‘the instinct of the moment’.” — Peter Brook


From documentary Where Words Prevail:

  • “Cicely Berry connects people with who they are, and allows the sound that comes out of your voice to reveal everything.” — Emily Watson, actor


  • “She gives the power and freedom back to the actor without any sense of being imposed upon. She works on trying to help you find the voice of the part you are playing.” — Sam West, actor


  • “She has a blisteringly truthful eye and can see what is true and what is false within the voice and the acting itself. She strips you away until you get to you authentic voice.” — Greg Hicks, actor


  • “Cicely Berry doesn’t impose or judge anyone. She finds a way of empowering the individual.” — Andrew Wade, head of voice at RSC


  • “There is a complete absence of pretension with Cicely. You never feel like you have to rise to her level, nor does she come to you… it’s all about the work.” — Michael Attenborough, director


  • “She interests me because I have never met anyone else so interested. Interested in hearing a Shakespeare text in a new way. She inspires me.” — Helen Hunt, actor


  • “Humans need to believe they have a right to be in the world. Cicely connects language with imagination. You’ve got to feel the language coming through you.” — Edward Bond, playwright


Quotes from Cicely Berry[edit]

From Where Words Prevail:

  • “When going into a workshop, my primary objective is to get people to feel something in the language… to make the words active.” — {{{2}}}


  • “We live in a literal age: ‘this is what this means, that is what that means…’ instead of discovering how you feel by speaking it.” — {{{2}}}


  • “People understand why singers have to train to develop the breath and range of the voice. An actor has to develop their own voice, their personal voice, their individual voice.” — {{{2}}}


  • “We are drawn by a voice which has a vibration; which resonates.” — {{{2}}}


  • “What is so exciting about Shakespeare is that when a character finds an image, it is always to do with where that character is living at that moment.” — {{{2}}}


From Voice and the Actor:

  • “I have always felt that poetry is quite the best material to use because the demands it makes are very particular and quite subtle, yet its extravagance encourages you to do extravagant things which are not untrue.” — {{{2}}}


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