Kamilla Abdurakhmanova  

Director , teacher and actress in the Youth Theatre of Uzbekistan

Yes, that is how I would call the project, where I was lucky to be involved in thanks to the British Council. For a few days, we were absorbed in the activities of the British school of acting skills. Three trainers, Niamh, John and Irina, were sharing their professional secrets.      

We had some very interesting classes from Niamh, where we were supposed to find a connection between the movement of the body and the vocal sound. We discovered new ways of making vocal sounds, which did not require the body to remain inactive. The voice was coming out smoothly and naturally, even when you had run a whole lap or had bent down and touched the floor with your hands a moment before you pronounced a word: you stood still and your vocal tone was stable and smooth and your breath even.    

I made a personal discovery thanks to John! As my acting repertoire consists of diverse roles, I had to stretch my voice within a wide range, from a low to high pitch. For instance, in The Devil Woman I had to speak as a bold Spanish girl, and on the next day I played the princess in Snow White, who spoke in a high melodic voice. At the master class, I asked John ‘How can I make my voice sound natural at different pitch levels so that my vocal cords feel comfortable at the same time?’ John led me up to a piano and we began studying… I can never describe that magic, when, in a couple of minutes, after a short exercise, my voice could climb to the highest pitch levels and fall to the lowest tones of my vocal range so easily that it seemed I had been doing it right from my birth. I can call what happened to me on that day very simply – a shock! I feel immensely grateful to John for that experience. He has gone now, but I continue to use this method warming up before my performance.            

Irina shared with us plenty of wonderful emotions. We often laughed and felt overwhelmed with Shakespeare’s tragedy and shared our impressions – in one word, I would have called it the relaxation of the soul were it not in fact some hard work to do! The free and natural atmosphere combined with Irina’s friendliness and cheerfulness resulted in the most interesting reading of Shakespeare’s monologues and sonnets! Some of the activities Irina shared with us proved very useful for me and considerably enriched my practice of teaching the actor’s profession.              

I am looking forward to new meetings and discoveries with our great masters! Not only are they excellent trainers, but also wonderful and kind-hearted people! When we were saying goodbye to each other we hugged each other so wholeheartedly, as if we had been friends for the whole of our lives! Indescribable pleasure! I hope Niamh, John and Irina were also pleased by our people, who demonstrated their Central Asian openness, respect and love for what they did. I am very grateful to the British Council not only for supporting cross-cultural dialogue in Tashkent’s theatrical world, but also for the inexpressible atmosphere that permeated the master classes and for the feeling of anticipation and hope for new meetings! Thank you!