Nadine featured in national Danish Press, February 2011

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The voice of Othello


The British voice trainer, actress and Shakespeare expert, Nadine George, has developed a method she uses to teach actors to use the full potential of their voice and integrate masculine and feminine energy into their acting. She is the voice trainer behind Republique's buoyant new production of "Othello".


By journalist Vibeke Wern



Who exactly is the persona Othello, who, at the end of Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name, strangles his innocent wife Desdemona in a fit of jealousy? An actor can find the answer by exploring Othello's soliloquies with his voice. Using his own voice, an actor can link into and become responsive to a murderous feeling deep within himself.


This deep psychological dimension, combined with deliberately technical work with qualities of sound, lies at the core of the voice training method British-born Nadine George has developed over many years. She is currently using the method in voice training sessions with six young Danish actors, who will be performing Shakespeare's "Othello" at Republique at the end of February.


"From the moment you enter the stage, it is imperative that you access the emotions through your voice. There is no point in merely acting out an emotion. You have to feel the emotion inside you. And the actor has to communicate the vibrations in his voice to the audience. But it is only by working with the important texts, like Shakespeare, that you can unearth all the different emotional spheres inside you," Nadine George explains. She is a trained actress, who has worked with Shakespeare's monologues since childhood.


She taught for more than two decades at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where she has received an Honorary Doctorate. It was during the eight years she was associated with the University of Birmingham Drama Department that she developed the method she currently uses and which is based on Shakespeare's texts. She also runs voice training courses in London for thespians from all over the world. Here in Denmark she taught for some years at Odense Theatre's Drama School and has held workshops in a number of cities, including Copenhagen, Aarhus and Aalborg.


"The foundations of my voice work stem from the ground-breaking voice trainer and actor Roy Hart, whose own voice spanned eight octaves and who could sing both Sarastro's bass aria and The Queen of the Night's coloratura aria from "The Magic Flute". As Roy Hart had also studied psychology, he often compared qualities of sound in the voice to the Jungian terms, animus and anima. Instead of using the customary singing terms, baritone, tenor, alto and soprano, I decided to call the corresponding qualities of sound deep male, high male, deep female and high female. The goal is to integrate all the qualities of sound in the voice, both the male and the female. Fortunately, we now live in an era where there is far greater acceptance of the fact that everyone encompasses both masculine and feminine energy."


In "Othello", which is produced by Anders Lundorph and performed in Danish, actor Morten Burian will play the role of Emilia, Desdemona's maidservant, married to the scheming Iago. The thespian team's sole actress, Line Bie Rosenstjerne, will play Desdemona.


"We are forced to accept that we have dark animal forces within us alongside the lighter aspects. To achieve a female quality of sound in the voice, the actor has to use his masculine energy, and vice versa. Breathing helps us to link into important emotional resources."


Breathing is a particularly important part of Nadine George's voice training method. She always starts her workshops with deep breathing exercises. She then proceeds to work with the four basic qualities of sound, with the actors singing four different vocals which reside in different parts of the body. Only then are the actors ready to work with the text of "Othello".


"This play has profound depths which make huge demands on actors, both vocally and emotionally. The actors have to find the energy in their voice in a relaxed way. If they are tense, they will lose their voice after the first performance. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn to relax and at the same time maintain the energy in the voice. One of the most important things you have to learn is to be honest and true to yourself. Don't forget that your vulnerability is in fact the mainstay in your work," Nadine George tells the actors encouragingly.


"Othello", produced by Anders Lundorph with scenography by Adalsteinn Stefansson, can be seen at Republique from 24 February until 26 March.



[Comments as captions to photos of each of the six actors and the producer]:


How do I use Nadine George's voice training in my work?


Anders Lundorph / Producer:

The voice training prepares the actors for working with the play so that they can take Shakespeare's complex text and make it their own credible expression, in terms of both language and emotion.


Martin Geertz / Othello:

Purely in terms of technique, it opens us to our emotions so that we can achieve more than we had thought possible. Moreover, Nadine has encouraged us to dare to be ourselves and to trust our own intuition.


Morten Christensen / Iago:

The training is a cornerstone enabling us to build and deliver a character with enormous scope, by providing us with a whole palette of colours in our voice. The method gives us direct access to emotional depths without us having to go into therapy.


Joen Højerslev / Cassio:

It makes us strongly aware of the psychological depths we can achieve using the voice and the very strong links that exist between body and voice.


Line Bie Rosenstjerne / Desdemona:

The method leads us to the essence and emotional profundity of the text concerned with human intrigue. By training our voices as a group, we have also gained a very strong team spirit.


Morten Burian / Emilia:

It is a tool that taps into a dramatic archetypal energy, which is absolutely necessary if you seek to unfurl Shakespeare. It opens new vistas and a spirituality which I can use in many contexts.


Mads Rømer Brolin-Tani / Roderigo:

It develops my voice further so that I feel more confident. I often use Nadine's warm-up with the four qualities of sound before I go on stage.


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