Cicely Berry, Who Taught Actors Shakespeare’s Sound, Is Dead at 92

Cicely Berry, Who Taught Actors Shakespeare’s Sound, Is Dead at 92


Cicely became enamored with poetry as a youngster, often escaping her boisterous older siblings by retreating to the bathroom to read aloud Shakespeare, Keats, Shelley and Auden, sometimes to Micky, her dog.

“Taught myself, read it aloud to myself,” she said in a video interview in 2014 with Jane Boston, an instructor at Central School of Speech and Drama in London, which Ms. Berry attended in the 1940s. “I was absolutely obsessed.”

After graduating, she was hired by the school as a voice instructor. Her reputation steadily grew — in part through private lessons with actors like Mr. Connery — and led Trevor Nunn, the R.S.C.’s artistic director at the time, to hire her as the company’s first voice director in 1969.

She said she was fortunate to work for three very different directors there: Mr. Nunn, John Barton and Terry Hands.

“It was a wonderful, enlightening time to work on Shakespeare,” she told Ms. Boston. “I started working on voice, but it quickly worked out that actors would ask for advice or help on a speech, and I’d have to find ways of honoring what the director wanted but find ways to get the actors to get their own responses to the language.”

While at the R.S.C., she also taught at Nós do Morro, a theater company in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, as well as in various British prisons. She also directed productions of “King Lear” at theaters in Stratford-upon-Avon and London, wrote several books, including “Voice and the Actor” (1973) and “The Actor and the Text” (1987), and was the dialogue coach for two Bernardo Bertolucci films, “The Last Emperor” (1987) and “Stealing Beauty” (1996).

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by her sons, Aaron and Simeon Moore; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Her husband, Harry Moore, an American-born actor who was later a producer for the BBC, died in 1978.



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