Susan Giusto performs Act 2, Scene 1 from Macbeth, a play by William Shakespeare.
Susan Giusto started experimenting with voice acting at an early age performing and writing poems and radio plays. She has also produced sound effects and music scores for live theater. Recently Susan lends her voice to a myriad of projects from training videos and commercial spots to audio books and recently several character voices for animated short student films. She continues to keep her craft sharp by taking classes and workshops with Wren. Susan can be contacted by firstname.lastname@example.org and at https://voice123.com/profiles/susangiusto/
From Susan: “I wanted to explore the crushing and confused confidence as Macbeth debates the actions to come. The hunger, the depravity, the loneliness of the decision that beckons into the soul. What things would pivot in life due to this deed, as the rationale of mental competency seemed to slip away. I stepped into the deep dark and felt that bit of discontinuity as the words gave feeling and images a place for the voice to speak what only the mind could ponder. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck raise. I held that dagger in my mind.”
“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 email@example.com.
Carol Naranjo performs When Death Comes, a poem by Mary Oliver.
From Carol: “I’ve been acutely aware, for as long as I can remember, that I’ve always been ‘preparing’ to live my life. It has been a struggle for me to live ‘in the moment’, eventually cultivating a rather nihilistic perspective. I even failed in the face of life-changing events to realize how brief and precious our stay is, and how lucky I am to be here, particularly to have so many blessings; a loving family, spouse, an education, a career, even an avocation or two. After many decades on this earth, I think, with the help of soul-giving people like Wren and my classmates, I can no longer waste anymore precious moments in worrying about ‘what I accomplished’. It is time to live. Mary Oliver’s poem dragged it from my recalcitrant brain and gently pushed it into my heart.”
Claire Taylor performs One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII, a poem by Pablo Neruda.
Claire Taylor studies under Wren Ross and has recorded commercials and narrations at Soundtrack Boston, Burclan Productions, Soundscape Boston, and Creative Audio & Music including a short film directed by Wren Ross at VideoLink and a part in the Stranglers podcast (Episode 9) produced by Scripps and developed and narrated by Portland Helmich. She did radio locally and now on the internet for a show called Braselide, broadcast in English and Haitian Creole for the Boston Haitian community and some in the past with Cameo Broadcasting. Her signature show on Cameo was about high school hazing.
She is a voiceover artist, singer, and lover of cross cultural communications and conversations about social interaction and justice.
From Claire: “I chose Sonnet 17 by Pablo Neruda because it spoke about love in a way that reminded me of my husband. The love described in the poem as it was received and given was telling a truth about the places where love really lives in a relationship and how much more precious that is than what a person could ever have dreamed love would be.
I often don’t picture myself doing certain workshops that Wren presents like Shakespeare or this poetry one and then when I get there, Wren finds a way – an insight – that leads me to my creativity. When I arrive at that place, it rings true and gives something to others just like she knew and told us it could.
She’s a master at her craft – a generous creative ignition system!”
Audrey Tesserot performs The Invitation, a poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.
Audrey Tesserot is a voiceover actor, yoga teacher and creative artist in the Boston area. Her work informs her work, and she considers herself a student first. Her website is audreytesserot.com.
From Audrey: “Poetry is a genre I hadn’t spent much time with because I suppose Shakespeare had always filled its place in the theatre world I came from. Sitting down and chewing on these words, choosing an artistic statement drawn out like a song, was a challenge to tackle, but also a very moving experience. Working with Wren is always a place of great support and strength. I think my work benefited immensely from the environment of a cozy booth with Wren and other students who seemed to have one big thing in common, we all wanted to speak truths. This piece is extremely personal, and Wren held that space for me to feel through it, get messy, and find my way to the heart of it. And then I watched her do the same with every other artist in the room. I don’t think anyone else could teach poetry like Wren does.”
Lisa White performs An Afternoon in the Stacks, a poem by Mary Oliver.
From Lisa: “Mary Oliver’s poetry feels more accessible to me than most poetry. Her style is so straightforward. Though I particularly appreciate the way she writes about the natural world, the setting of “An Afternoon in the Stacks” resonates with me, as someone who has a passion for books and libraries. Although the language is fairly plain, there are layers of concepts (such as connection—between a writer and a reader, how our actions impact others, etc.). Each time I read it I get more out of it.”
Caitlin Shea performs For New Beginnings, a poem by John O’Donohue.
Caitlin Shea is a singer and voiceover actor who resides in Boston. When she is not working on learning new copy or lyrics, you can find her writing grants in the arts non-profit world.
From Caitlin: “I recently attended Wren Ross’ poetry class and the experience was unlike any workshop I have attended. Not only was the intimate group incredibly talented and unique, but Wren coaches with grace, insight, and expertise that added immeasurable dimension to my voice over work. I haven’t had the opportunity to dive into poetry in years and this workshop provided the space to explore this genre of writing that can seem daunting in our busy lives. Wren is a sage adVOcate and her classes and workshops not only provide improvements for a voice over career but skills to take into any professional arena. Thank you, Wren!”
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.
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.”
Cindy Newell performs Benedicto, a poem by Edward Abbey.
Cindy 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.”
Steve McGarry performs Sonnet XVII, a poem by Pablo Neruda.
Steve 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…”
Christine Marie performs The Parable of the Trapeze from The Essene Book of Days by Danaan Parry.
Christine 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.”
Jenn Rajala performs A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim, a poem by Walt Whitman.
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.”
Holly Miller performs At the Funeral of my Grandfather, a poem by Andrew Miller.
Holly 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.”