A tribute to Kristin Linklater (1936-2020)

Kristin Linklater, who passed away on 5 June was an extraordinary tour de force in the world of voice, who will be sorely missed.  

Kristin trained at LAMDA, with Michael MacOwan and Iris Warren. Warren and MacOwan collaborated to develop actor-training when they took LAMDA over in 1951.  They were inspired by the formative work of Jacques Copeau, Michael Saint-Denis and Litz Pisk and The Old Vic Theatre School, which had, as Linklater herself describes it, developed training designed to develop the ‘actor’s being into a sensitive, integrated, creative instrument.’   

Having worked as an actor in rep, Linklater was invited back to LAMDA by Warren to become, as she herself put it, a ‘student-teacher’ of voice. Warren had built her practice on the pioneering voice work of Elsie Fogerty, developing a series of exercises designed to balance technical knowledge and imagery and to move away from the notion of the ‘voice beautiful’ to a free and more natural sound.  

After six years teaching at LAMDA, Linklater left to found her own voice studio in America. Here she worked with companies such as the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre, The Lincoln Centre rep company, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Her books: Freeing the Natural Voice and Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice, have had a huge influence on present day voice teachers and actors.  

Perhaps her work is best summarised by herself: ‘My intention is to awaken the dormant power that brings breath into every cell of the body, welcomes the most tempestuous emotions, permits the brilliance of the intellect, frees the body, stretches the imagination and restores largesse of expression and stature to the human-actor-being.’ 

And by her family: ‘An inspirational writer, teacher of voice and Shakespeare, she helped a generation of performers, artists and people from all walks of life, free their natural voice.’ 

Our thoughts are with Kristin’s family and friends.  
A tribute to Kristin Linklater from LAMDA and Judith Phillips, Head of Voice at LAMDA. 

Published 16 June 2020