Grotowski believed in the theatre through the actor.  For him the only things required for a production were the actors.  He felt that if an audience was present that they were part of the production.  To prepare an audience, he would sometimes  taxi them  blindfold in cars to the venue.  At other times he hired a double decker bus.  He would have strategically placed  actors confront members of the audience on their way to their seats.   The actor Derek Smith said that Grotwski once sat on the toilet , door open, in full view of the audience as they walked up the stairs to the auditorium.  Grotowski’s philosphy of  the impact of theatre and his love of actors and their total art was way ahead of his time.  It is now more in tune with the new directors of the theatre of today.

He wanted audiences to experience truths about human experience, through watching actors access their own inner truth.

It was a spiritual; and for him a journey through religion – he sort to reveal how much of what we show to the world is of necessity – artifice. The rituals of  our daily lives giving meaning to this artifice.

He trained his actors to strip themselves of pre-conceived ideas, received knowledge, intellectual thought and to feel safe.

He believed that we all keep ourselves apart from universal truths by wearing our daily masks.  He wanted actors to strip away those masks.  He felt that in his contemporary theatre the scenery, lighting, make-up, acting techniques all went towards making the theatre a display of approval for the way things were.

He realised that film and television satisfied the public’s need for stories and entertainment.  For him the theatre would survive through the experience which only live actors could give.

In order that the actor could “let go” – he trained them extensively – physically and mentally.  This way the actor had supreme power over his mental and physical state – the power to let go.

He worked with his actors in laboratory conditions over months and months.

So what is the relevance of Grotowski today?  All actors have chosen this profession to work in and all actors want to be able to give of themselves freely to the parts they are asked to play.

At the same time we have a right to protect ourselves including our psyche against anything which will harm us or interfere with our daily lives.

The reason why Grotowski’s work was therapeutic in the best sense of the word for his actors, was that the actors were monitored and supported through the whole of the process.  They were nurtured while learning to lay all bare.

What I have learned is that Grotowski’s experiments and findings for the voice are of great value to the actor. To Grotowski, the voice and body mirrored the text.  The voice was a medium through which the actor could reveal the ‘core’ of himself.

Every time I give a Grotowski inspired voice workshop we are in a sense in a laboratory.  All that is required is that we relax and ‘feel’ on a level that can be unusual to us.

We explore the methods of Grotowski’s work on the voice and discover how to access the natural emotional openings that the voice uses.  Words alone do not fully express what we are thinking.   The physical and emotional release of our feelings is all encompassing, glowing freedom, when we speak from the core of our emotions.


Written by Frances Parkes (c) 2006- 17

Corporate Speaker of 2011

The College of Public Speaking held the finals of their Corporate Speaker of the Year award at the English Speaking Union in Charles Street, Mayfair.  A very English Georgian venue with an appropriate  portrait in the bar of Emma Hamilton in one of her Attitudes.  The theme for this year’s speakers was therefore apt for this setting:
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life from what we give.” Winston Churchill
A fascinating theme and appropriate for our time, which is again back to the wall austerity.  There were among the gifted speakers:  Jason Ashwood, Andrew Chuks, Shaughan Dolan, Anthony Gell, David Jones, Phillip Khan-Panni, James Milton, Robert Noble, Mike Robinson and Dorothea Stuart, a plethora of interpretations.  I particularly liked the dichotomy used by Dorothea Stuart of influence and reciprocation and her final sung words:  “in the end, the love we take is equal to the love we make”.  Her speech was witty and amusing delivered with an excellent clarity of diction in line with her subject.  Robert Noble also gave an intelligent, moving and witty speech about leaving your ego at home when you go to work. He had lots of enthusiasm but hadn’t had a vocal warm up, which is guaranteed to flatten most voices.   David Jones has a great presence and sailed in filling the stage talking about how he was caught up in the Ealing riots and landed second prize.  The third prize went to Jason Ashwood who was charming in his delivery in a speech about the commemorative poppy.  First prize went to Andrew Chuks who gave a brave rendition of what it felt like to be made redundant and how he decided to form his own company, Out of all the speakers, Andrew’s was the most dramatic, with long pauses as he looked at his audience to let his words have deeper meaning and he used movement to emulate climbing a mountain and battling his way through his feelings.  In the end it was down to the interpretation of the theme words.

I have always understood that Public Speaking and Presentations are radically different.  The skills required are in the most part quite different.  In a nutshell presenting is so much easier, however, the College of Public Speaking Corporate Challenge is an innovation to promote and encourage communication excellence in the business world and here the cross-over with Presentation occurs.

Popular TV programmes like The Apprentice and The Dragons’ Den underline the need for excellent presentation skills. How many times have prospective entrepreneurs faltered at the first hurdle of their sales pitch? We know that these problems can be resolved with supportive guidance, structure and practice.

This contest is a marvellous opportunity for individuals to develop themselves in a friendly, supportive and pressurised environment. Speech contests emulate the rigours of a tough business world where millions of pounds can be won and lost on one strong presentation. It’s also a development opportunity for contestants and companies alike.

So you can understand that with judges including Chris Bates who was runner up in the Apprentice series, the judges were going to go for something more like a motivational Presentation than a Public Speech.

In all the speakers but 2, I was surprised by the low quality vocal profile.  Why is it that people keep harping on about projection?  It seems it is the only thing that many public speakers are concerned about.  The word projectile conjures up an image of something being hurled.  This is not how the voice operates.  Overall release will give the speaker amazing power to be heard without having to “project”.


A Celebration for Matthew Lloyd

There was a farewell mêlée of theatre performances at the Actors Centre this week at the Tristan Bates theatre, to celebrate the nine year’s work of Matthew Lloyd as Artistic Director of the Actors’ Centre in Covent Garden.   His love of actors and the art of acting has nurtured and inspired many actors throughout his tenure.  During the evening we saw  a scene from “Come Out Eli“ a recorded delivery production where actors are linked up via an earpiece to the voices of people being interviewed and repeat their words verbatim.   Lucky’s speech from “Waiting for Godot” was fantastically delivered by 10 of the bursary winners or runners up of the Alan Bates bursary.  A piece from “Crush”, that originated from work at the Actors Centre by Paul Charlton and Ria Parry and went on to win a Fringe First at Edinburgh was brilliantly delivered.  “Lovesong” directed by Che Walker and played and sung by Omar Lye-Fook was another highlight of the evening – a reminder of the power of the actor and singer to transform our emotions and send echos down our spine.  The evening was crowned by a scene Matthew has adapted from Daniel Deronda, in which the gentleman tells a young and beautiful woman that she has the wrong idea about the acting world and it won’t be as easy to join and succeed as she thinks.  It was read by Henry Goodman and Gill Kearney, who don’t have to concern themselves with the message of the piece.  Matthew Lloyd disclosed that he started his ‘Truth’ interviews with members of the Actors Centre because he believed that people who won’t succeed, should be told that truth, much as in the scene from Daniel Deronda.  He seemed relieved that he only had to tell two people to desist in the profession.  Clive Swift, the wonderful actor and founder member of the Actors Centre said that he’s always telling people not to become actors.  However, for those with talent and the ability to learn, listen and work like crazy – the Actors Centre is the place to go.

Selective Listening

George, the bloke who does the window cleaning came in today with his brother.   He’s a skilled builder but does window cleaning in between jobs, which is why you can’t see through our windows a lot of the time. George is a laugh a minute, a real comedian.   He also says it like it is:

“I’m going down to number 10 or 11 and I’m going to say, ‘you’ve told me that you understand the way I feel, you’ve told me how much you care, so give us a hug.”  I’m sorry I don’t get him, I just don’t get him – maybe it’s me.  The thing is he doesn’t talk to a bloke like me.   He’s way up there.  He’s very clever yes but he doesn’t know much about people.  He hires all these researchers to find out how people like me feel and that’s not right.  The job is for someone who knows … that’s what the job is about.  The job is for someone who listens.  He doesn’t listen to the likes of me.”

Well George it’s what’s called selective listening and many of us experience this at least once a day.  The enthusiastic salesperson turns into a gut wrenching stressor as they refuse to listen to anything but what will give them more leverage to make you buy.  The boardroom bully, who talks over you and listens with glassy eyes.  The delivery of a report, in one order, in spite of your interjections that highlight your priorities.

I don’t exactly need to hear birdsong and cows lowing in the background, but please take it easy on those of us who like to listen and be listened to.   Communication is about listening and responding.  Reggie Yates my current favourite DJ on Radio ,  is a star at this.  He really gets a good “phone tone” out of the people who call him.  What you give is what you get.

Trevor Nunn gives his actors exercises in listening.  When you know your own lines and your fellow actors, it’s easy to stop really listening, but boy does it show!  F Parkes Associates – Max Your Voice, deliver Listening Skills Coaching as part of their Interview Skills Training.  Contact for a free consultation.



Carole Latimer

Carole Latimer is a great photographer.   Even in this digital age when we can all take a good pic, Carole excels.  People, until now, have always been her preferred choice.  She takes photographs of actors.  There aren’t many of today’s top actors in England who haven’t been photographed by her.  Nearing the end of the “glamorous greats” era, she photographed many stars in their homes including  Katharine Hepburn in her home in New York towards the end of her life.
Her anecdotes of this time are jaw dropping, but unfortunately for us she is a lady who doesn’t publish any of her private or her client’s private experiences.  Carole is a great character and an elegant and sensitive artist.  She relishes the spoken word.  She grew up surrounded by actors, as her father was the matinee idol of his day, Hugh Latimer.  She speaks in ORP as the phonetic king John C Wells would put it:  old received pronunciation, a great sounding board for a voice coach, who needs to get dialects straight from the horse’s mouth and Carole along with her friend Lord Fellowes, are the real thing for ORP.
Carole has turned her expert eye to photographing flowers on water.  Last night was the private view and reception of her latest exhibition “Flowers Mirroring the Deep” at the 20th Century Theatre in Notting Hill.  Carole has photographed flowers in a way that makes them look as if they are creatures from the sea.  They are breathtakingly beautiful.  The result of three years work.  The Born Free foundation will receive 10% of the sales.  Find out more about “Flowers Mirroring the Deep” by clicking the link below.

Find out about learning modern RP (standard) English by clicking on our Courses.  For dialect coaching contact