From: Emma Peirson
(Director, Producer and Owner of Frosti Lemon productions, South Africa)
Donald Woodburn was my voice coach through the first three years of my BA degree in Dramatic Arts at AFDA( The South African school of motion picture medium and live performance). Not only was he a mentor and an inspiration to me and my fellow students in a time of awkward early-adulthood and pre professional uncertainty, but he has remained a good friend and continues to be an inspiration to me, now that I am a professional theatre practitioner.
With his tireless enthusiasm and passion for all things ‘voice’ in the performance and speech realm, Donald has created a new wave of vocal training with his much researched and detailed study into breath, connection and vocal theories and has moved boundaries in the South African voice industry. His enthusiasm and sheer pleasure regarding the hows and whys of our primary tool of communication, and the joy with which he shares his teachings, have made an impact on all who have come across this talented teacher and practitioner.
Being now based mainly behind the scenes (in direction, writing and production) of the theatre industry, I still, to this day, use much of what Donald imparted to me in the years as my teacher. I started to see the voice, the breath, the body and emotional connection as something very much alive and integrally important to becoming a well rounded performer and individual in the arts, and I have taken much of what he taught into my directional style and also into the way in which I communicate with people daily in the business I do.
Donald Woodburn, in his notoriously inspiring and positive way, made a subject which some young aspiring drama students would think of as something to “get out of the way so that they can just get onto the stage”, exciting, meaningful, thought provoking, and I believe contributed to the success of many of the students he taught in the good ol’ AFDA days!