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Betty Williams and the new Australian voice
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-09-28, DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2021.1957580
Bernadette Meenach

In 2020, the acting and training community mourned the passing of internationally renowned voice coach Kristin Linklater. In 2014, Australia quietly lost an equally significant voice coach. Like Linklater, Betty Williams trained with Iris Warren. Unlike Linklater, Williams chose not to publish anything about her approach to actor training. Rather, her work only exists in the performances of the hundreds of actors she trained at Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) between 1973 and 2011. I was apprenticed to Betty Williams in 1995, as a post-graduate student within the NIDA Voice Studies course. From week to week I observed her classes, private tutorials, and collaborations with the country’s prominent theatre directors. She equipped me with practical exercises, dialect resources, and a passion for the playwright’s words, before sending me out into the world to pass down ‘the wisdom of the tribe’ to a new generation of actors. In 2001, and again in 2011, Williams generously allowed me to return to NIDA to interview her about her approach to voice training. Using transcripts from both the 2001 interview and the final interview she gave just days before retiring in 2011, this extended conversation provides insight into the training of Australian actors’ voices.