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USM Theatre Students, Alumni Earn Distinguished Lessac Practitioner Status

Mon, 11/16/2020 - 15:21pm | By: Ivonne Kawas

The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) Lessac Kinsensic training program, a rigorous one-year Lessac voice and training curriculum offered by Theatre’s Master of Fine Arts in Performance degree, has announced its newest cohort of students. The group includes two current students and two alumni who have completed the rigorous requirements to earn the distinguished Lessac practitioner designation.

Among this year’s cohort of new Lessac practitioners are the following students and alumni: Travis Ascione from New Castle, Pa., Bryan Peyton from Oklahoma City, Okla., Sheldon Mba (2020) from Durham, N.C., and Chase Byrd (2014) from Franklin, N.C.

This unique training program offers a comprehensive and creative approach to all aspects of developing the body and the voice for speech and singing and as creative instruments of communication. Over the course of this year-long study, students are then given the opportunity to reach Lessac Practitioner status, which is a significant accomplishment for both the students and Southern Miss.

“The Lessac work has drastically improved the way I approach the integration process of my voice and body as an actor, singer and dancer,” said Mba. “It has carried me through a lot of vocally/physically demanding shows and gives me what every artist wants in their performance career, which is consistency with their work and sustainability between projects.”

Through this program, students develop a unique skillset in which they learn ways to further incorporate effective and deep breathing, body alignment and flexibility, vocal and physical endurance, vocal resonance and power, articulation and intelligibility. Not only can students apply Lessac concepts theatrically, but they can also be employed in their personal, day-to-day lives.

“I've found myself frequently employing Lessac concepts of Structural, Consonant, and Tonal NRG since the onset of the pandemic, specifically to communicate more effectively while wearing a mask,” said Byrd.

The Lessac work primarily focuses on creatively training the voice to be healthy, which results in a voice that sounds and feels good and gives access to greater range of physical and vocal expression.

“Lessac training helped me in creating a connection between my voice and body, which enabled me to build a foundation for a character on stage and communicate the dialogue in a unique way each time,” said Peyton.

The training is led by Robin Aronson, Professor of Voice and Acting in Theatre, who developed the plan for graduate students to learn the Lessac voice and body work for one-year as the foundation for their voice and speech work in the classroom, as well as in production. Each student was evaluated through a practical examination administered by Barry Kur, master teacher of Lessac Kinesensics, professor emeritus of theatre, Penn State University.

To learn more about the USM Theatre’s Lessac Kinsensic training program, visit: