Welcome!

Welcome to Wren’s Audio Theater Student Showcase where you’ll enjoy films and plays for your ears performed by members of Wren’s Acting classes.

Let yourself to be transported into the world of each story and enjoy!!

wren-2229A Note from Wren:

I love acting because it is the art of behavior that teaches us who we are and why we do what we do as human beings. I encourage my students to think of themselves as “behavior detectives” searching for specific clues about what makes a character tick – fueled by curiosity that prompts questions about who this person is: What’s their background? What influences in their lives contribute to their choices and actions? What do they love, hate, fear?

When investigating and taking on these questions they can step into the character’s shoes, see the world through their eyes and they stop “performing.” The result is that their acting becomes more authentic, dynamic and memorable.

If you are interested in working with me, click here for information about upcoming classes and workshops or email me at wren@wrenross.com.

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The Art of Speaking Poetry

Wild Geese on Street“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” – Leonard Cohen

I recently brought my friend, voice-over legend Don Wescott, to speak to a group of students who’ve made voice over demos with me. Members of the group asked Don how he got started and how he practiced. He said he spoke great poems aloud.

It makes sense. Poems are shimmering expressions of honesty that provide vivid imagery and intimate connection with the reader/listener. They are often painfully beautiful because they are intimate, immediate, and truthful. A really insightful and potent poem provides you with that gratifying “aha” moment that makes you feel really alive. Awake.

I offered the Art of Speaking Poetry last February and again in May, because I wanted a verbal antidote to the daily toxicity of news and the corrosive assault on truth and decency.  I was heartened that so many people signed up and brought beautiful and personal pieces to explore. The workshop experience was profound and gratifying.  Each person dug into their soul and found their authentic voice. Amid laughter and tears, we recorded the pieces, and with the brilliant sound design of Kevin McLaughlin at Soundtrack Recording Studio, these gems were created.

I feel that I need more poetry now and I imagine I am not alone. The other day during a walk, I saw posted on a telephone pole, Mary Oliver’s gorgeous poem, “Wild Geese” with hand made illustrations (see photo). I stopped and took this photo and was grateful to the person who made this poem available to anyone passing by on their way to the pizza shop, the cleaners, the cafe or the tailor.

You know what would be terrific? POETRY GIFTING. Why not send meaningful poetry to someone who means a lot to you? A poem that provides a moment of clarity. A new fresh perspective. A personal connection of humanity. Something that nourishes the spirit.

Feel free to download and use any of of these pieces. Or record a piece of your own. I plan on offering the Art of Speaking Poetry a few times during the year. If you are interested click here for information about upcoming classes and workshops or email me at wren@wrenross.com.

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To an English Friend in Africa

Students from Wren’s December 2017 Art of Speaking Poetry class — Jenn Rajala, Christine Rinaldi, Holly Miller, Kathy Zerlin, and Matthew Greif — perform To an English Friend in Africa, a poem by Ben Okri.

GroupPhoto_Poetry

From Wren: “This poem, by Ben Okri, was a joyful, inspired moment of collective creativity.

Jenn Rajala brought two poems to class and couldn’t decide which to do.  After she performed a Walt Whitman piece, we entertained the idea of having her also read this poem by Okri because we all fell in love with the profoundly important, yet basic message.

However, it didn’t seem quite right to me that she would do two poems and everyone else do one, so I asked how many stanzas were in this poem. Luckily, there was the perfect amount of beautiful stanzas for everyone, so the group gathered around the microphone and each person spoke their lines with truth and heart.  It was a special moment of spontaneous bonding that we pass along to you.

“Be grateful for life as you live it.
And may a wonderful light
Always guide you on the unfolding road.”

NOTE: Though the recording mentions Unfolding Road as the title, after the class, I did further research to find this poem and it is actually entitled, “To An English Friend in Africa” from the book, An African Elegy (1992), and is longer than the version we recorded here.”

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At the Funeral of my Grandfather

Holly Miller performs At the Funeral of my Grandfather, a poem by Andrew Miller.

HollyMillerPhotoHolly Miller has been a voice actress for four years.  She is active in Community Theater and has a weekly radio program width Audio Journal, a service that broadcasts printed material to the blind and visually impaired.

From Holly: “My son, Andrew Miller, wrote the poem, “At the Funeral of my Grandfather” when he was a senior in college.  While I was privy to his motivation for writing it, I really wanted to capture his vision of the poem.  I called him for advice, but he really had none, other than he didn’t want the cadence to be too singsongy.  With that in mind, I began my session by stumbling on some of the words because I was too focused on how I was saying them.  After Wren helped me shift my focus back to the words’ meaning and the emotions embedded in them, the poem fell into place.  I am happy to say that Andy is very pleased with how the recording turned out.”

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The Journey

Kathy Zerlin performs The Journey, a poem by Mary Oliver.

KathyZerlinPhotoKathy Zerlin is a Boston area vocalist and an aspiring voiceover artist. Her New Year’s resolution is to delve deeper into her artistic pursuits, relinquishing the excuse that “life got in the way.”

From Kathy: “Poetry unleashes something. It is so open to interpretation, so the only fact that matters is what it arouses in you and how you identify with a poem. That makes it a very personal medium. In the recording booth, you feel the importance of each word and you want to honor those words by conveying the truth of the poem. You don’t want to be “off” or hiding your emotion so as not to feel vulnerable. That’s where Wren comes in! She helps personalize the poem by uncovering something inside of you. It was a cathartic experience!”

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A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim

Jenn Rajala performs A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim, a poem by Walt Whitman.

JennRajala

Jenn Rajala has studied voice-over with Wren Ross for 8 years, and has applied that skill-set as a reader for the blind at Audio Journal Worcester.  Her primary interests in the field of voice include audiobook & documentary narration, and she has studied as a vocalist under SueEllen Kuzma.

From Jenn: “The very first time I read this poem, it brought me to tears.  As I discussed it in the workshop with Wren, she helped me to articulate the message in it that resonates most with me – a recognition of the sanctity & divinity to be found in each life.  That clarity helped me to hold that idea in mind as I recorded the poem, and to find new meaning in words and phrases where I might not have absorbed it before.  It’s such a powerful piece of writing.”

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The Invitation

Christine Rinaldi reads The Invitation, a poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

ChristineRinaldiPhotoCroppedChristine’s bio and statement are forthcoming.

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If We Only Have Love

Matthew Greif performs If We Only Have Love, a poem by Jacques Brel.

MichaelGreifPhotoFrom Matthew: “As a former National Park ranger in Boston, I have had many opportunities to speak in public.  I have also had some prior experience in children’s theater and puppetry — but almost none in studio recording. So Wren’s workshop was an eye and ear-opening experience.  I chose to read (but not sing) the lyrics of one of my favorite songs by Jacques Brel, If We Only Have Love, poetically translated into English by Eric Blau.  The song’s message of hope and compassion seem especially needed during these difficult and divisive times. And in her own fun and playful way, Wren challenged me to abandon old habits and experiment with new techniques and unexpected ways to interpret the lyrics and connect with an audience. The process was exciting, surprising and very helpful. Clearly, Wren is a remarkably gifted teacher!”

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Benedicto

Cindy Newell performs Benedicto, a poem by Edward Abbey.

cindyCindy Newell is a recently retired massage and neuromuscular therapist with a passion for voice over acting. She is an organic farmer and outdoor enthusiast who loves hiking, kayaking, travel and adventure.   Cindy and her partner support environmental and wildlife conservation efforts in the US and in Costa Rica where they have property.

From Cindy: “Wren’s Poetry Workshop was sheer joy from beginning to end! What a gift to work with a piece that has meant so much to me since I first came across it about thirty years ago, and to hear the moving and meaningful choices of the others in the group and why they chose them.

My piece was Edward Abbey’s Benedicto. I have spoken those words to groups many times and have given written copies as gifts. With Wren’s insightful guidance, I had the chance to explore more deeply and precisely my connection to these words and to voice them from the depth of that connection. Shortly after recording Benedicto, I visited several of our National Parks in the West and Southwest – the landscapes of which Abbey wrote. It was a profoundly moving experience for me, the more so on the heels of the Poetry Workshop.

Thank you, Wren, for honoring the power of poetry and for encouraging us to nourish our souls in this way.”

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Sonnet XVII

Steve McGarry performs Sonnet XVII, a poem by Pablo Neruda.

SteveMcGarrySteve McGarry is a Boston-area voice talent and singer, as well as a software engineer. One of his fondest performance memories was being part of a quartet which sang both the USA and Canada national anthems for a packed TD Boston Garden, before a Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors NBA game.

From Steve: “I first heard snippets of Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet XVII in the movie Patch Adams. Upon reading the full text, a feeling of recognition flowed through me. As if by magic, emotions and feelings deep within, to which I could never provide a worthy description, had been vividly illustrated. Under Wren’s direction, and with Kevin at the recording console, I was able to give voice to this stirring imagery. The musical selection that Wren and Kevin provided was a wonderful surprise for me. But, the best surprise was yet to come…

The recording we made was a gift for the love-of-my-life, Darlene. The look on her face, and the tears in her eyes, said more than any poem ever will. Thank you, Wren and Kevin, for the education, direction, and opportunity to share these feelings.

‘I love you because I know no other way than this.’ Indeed…”

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The Parable of the Trapeze

Christine Marie performs The Parable of the Trapeze from The Essene Book of Days by Danaan Parry.

Christine Marie 1Christine Marie is a local actress, voice actor, singer and dancer.  She spent many years performing with Reagle Players and now works as a professional voice over artist. She has spent several years lending her voice to commercials, corporate training videos and medical programs.  Christine recently recorded her first original song, Reasons.

From Christine: “When choosing my poem, I thought of the many conversations I had been having with friends regarding the changes happening in our lives, currently and the plans we were starting to make for the future. I realized we were reaching an age of transition. Aging parents, growing children, thoughts of retirement being closer than we would like to admit. I wanted to honor all of that goes along with those realizations: hope, fear, sadness and most of all strength. With Wren’s help I settled on an excerpt from the Trapeze and, as is always the case when working with the ever clever Wren, I loved every minute learning, exploring and recording this piece. I hope you enjoy the result as much as I enjoyed the process.”

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Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Drita P. Dumont performs Hope is the Thing with Feathers, a poem by Emily Dickinson.

Drita also performs in Spanish, El Dolor, a poem by Amalia Bautista.

Drita Protopapa Cropped 25 April 2017Drita P. Dumont is a multilingual Voice Over Actor with the ability to record in English, Portuguese and Spanish. She has 20 years of experience in Commercials, eLearning, Narration (Medical/Scientific/Educational), On Hold Messaging/IVR and Training Videos. Her clients include Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Florida Blue (she is the English voice for their phone messaging), Gallo Wines, Lockheed Martin, PGA Tour Latinoamerica and Western Union.

After studying Latin American culture and languages as an undergraduate at Rice University in Houston, Texas Drita went on to get a Masters in Brazilian Studies from Brown University and shortly after a second masters degree in Public Health with a focus on International and Family Health. While working in the community health field in Houston, Drita rediscovered her love of on camera acting and quickly became active with a local talent agency doing industrial and commercial work in English and Spanish. This renewed interest and creative activity is what led her to start her voice over career, 20 years ago, and helped land her 1st gig as the Portuguese speaking narrator for NASAs International Space Station video! 

When she is not recording, Drita enjoys spending time with family and friends – cooking Brazilian BBQ, sitting by the fire pit at night, taking long walks, cooking or simply watching movies on Netflix!

From Drita: “The beginning of 2017 was wrought with loss and sadness – on a personal level but also on a broader, national level. The weight of the sadness and sense of loss seemed to permeate everything. When in the darkness, we look for light. Literature and poems, in particular, provide a source of light and hope for so many. It was no different for me – “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson, seemed to be exactly what I needed at that moment in time. Actually, it is timeless. As I worked on the poem before and during our workshop, I become more and more connected to the words and meaning and it provided a sort of “instant” therapy to help rid me of the overwhelming sense of sadness I was experiencing at the time. Recording this poem as well as the one I recorded in Spanish, “El Dolor” by Amalia Bautista, helped me process my own pain and deep feelings of sadness and come out of the experience with more hope and a sense that “all will be well” in due time. The process of acting out the poem as a voice recording is what truly provided this path to a better place … just reading it alone could not have had the same intense impact.”

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Extending the Airport Runway

Jenn Rajala performs Extending the Airport Runway, a poem by Mary Oliver.

JennRajalaJenn Rajala has studied voice-over with Wren Ross for 8 years, and has applied that skill-set as a reader for the blind at Audio Journal Worcester.  Her primary interests in the field of voice include audiobook & documentary narration, and she has studied as a vocalist under SueEllen Kuzma.

From Jenn: “Mary Oliver is a favorite poet of mine, and her ability to communicate complex ideas with the simplest of language is a true gift.  Yet I also found that to be one of the challenges while making this recording.  I felt very tempted to try to do something to convey the meaning of the poem, but found instead that if I could trust and stay present to the language on the page, that message would come across far more clearly.”

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Pinkle Purr

Andrea O’Connell performs Pinkle Purr, a poem by A.A. Milne.

AndreaOconnellSix head shot views 002Andrea O’Connell worked in educational publishing for many years and has been a life-long singer.  The two paths merged in a publication for singers that she created and wrote for six years.  She sees voice acting as the next logical step in a life dedicated to authentic communication.  Andrea enjoys exercising her vocal colors in genres as varied as instructional narration, character dialog and humorous commercials.

From Andrea: “If one is looking for eternal truths, children’s poetry might not be the first place that comes to mind.  Yet, simple expressions are often the most effective so, why not?  In “Pinkle Purr” A.A. Milne takes only a few words to set a domestic scene everyone can recognize and relate to.  A tiny kitten arrives and its entire existence is its mother.  Everything it knows about the world comes from her and it learns by emulating her.  As the kitten grows, it ventures farther and farther from Mother’s safe, small world.  Wren helped me to experience the warmth and rightness of the journey as the now-confident cat assumes its supremacy in the natural order of things and demonstrates the evolving, yet enduring nature of love.” 

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