Cicely Frances Berry CBE (born May 17, 1926) is the voice director of the Royal Shakespeare Company & is world-renowned in her work as a voice & text coach, having spent many years as an instructor at London’s Central School of Speech & Drama. She has conducted workshops all over the globe as well as in prisons, using Shakespeare as a vessel to find confidence in speaking & response to imagery. She has spoken about being able to find pleasure in being articulate through Shakespeare & poetry. It puts actors in touch with their imagination, & therefore, can lead them to their own greater self-awareness.
Cicely Berry’s exercises tend to be based on resistance & rougher, physical work. One of her favorite quotes is from Thomas Kyd’s play The Spanish Tragedy: “Where words prevail not, violence prevails.”
Cicely has written & contributed to many books, articles & publications over the years & her seminal works read by all voice coaches as well as a large percentage of actors are:
- Voice and the Actor (1973)
- Your Voice and How to Use It
- The Actor and the Text
- Text in Action
- Word Play: A Textual Handbook for Directors and Actors
She has also received honours & accolades over the years including:
- 1985 – Received OBE
- 1992 – Nominated for special award by Arts Council for her ‘response to the challenges posed by a technologically diverse and increasingly multi-cultural environment.’
- 1997 – Doctor Honoris, National Academy of Film and Theatre Arts, Sofia, Bulgaria
- 1999 – Honorary Doctorate of Literature from Birmingham University
- 2000 – The Sam Wanamaker Prize for pioneering work in theatre
- 2001 – Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the Open University
- 2009 – Berry was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours.
Cicely Berry continues to be a major force in voice teaching both in the UK & worldwide.