Through accessing the primitive voice, the actor/singer, participant is invited to experiment with the full range of his/her body's composition and asymmetry. Each part of the body has its place in listening and expressing. Through exploring the wide palette of voice and movement combinations, the performer moves beyond the pedestrian use of his/her body, achieving both physically and mentally a complete tool for “being” on stage, in life.

During this process, we seek out and develop the roots of our social voices, thus becoming more mindful of our bodies' impulses. Exercises include: inhaled sounds, open throat vocalizing, stimulation of the diaphragm, communal manipulation of one body, surrendering to the group and to one's own impulses. Through this intensive training we surprise ourselves; the tiredness fades, the sensitivity grows, the voice opens.

Jean-Rene Toussaint is a French-born director, actor, and voice teacher. He is the creator of a distinct school of vocal training for performing artists and therapists - a technique he has dubbed Stemwerk in Dutch - and is the founder and head of a training center in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and in Avanos-Cappadocie in Turkey.

He has been professionally active in theater since 1973, and has worked with major theatrical companies and artists such as the Living Theatre, the Roy Hart Theatre, Robert Wilson, and the Polish Laboratory Theatre. His vocal theory and technique are inspired by the work of Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski, and Roy Hart, which are all defining figures in contemporary theater and, in the cases of Grotowski and Hart, of voice technique. Toussaint has traveled through parts of Asia and India, studying diverse ancient vocal practices, from Afghan Sufi to Mongolian, Tibetan, and Japanese vocal traditions.

Stemwerk seeks to reconnect each person to his/her primitive voice - a voice that is deeply physical and wonderfully versatile. This “primitive” voice can be used in performance training for actors, singers, and dancers, and in personal development to loosen psychological blocks and to discover more fully one's own personality. The roots of Toussaint's approach are found in his extensive work with deaf children. Through this experience he discovered the importance of the physical embodiment of sound and became fascinated with the raw and nomadic qualities of the human voice, unpolished by Western societal norms, values, and culture.

Text: Quinn Bauriedel (Pig Iron Theatre / Philadelphia)


Working with your voice is working with yourself

Visit our Dutch site:

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W. Buytewechstraat 65 b

3024 BM   Rotterdam

The Netherlands  -  Nederland

Tel: +31 6 52 84 07 88

Email:  (Dutch)  (Francais)  (English)

Since July 2011 until January 2016, Jean-Rene Toussaint worked regularly with the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia...

in July 2012 they set up together an impressive workshop

(2 weeks / 20 participants)

Preparing a cast for a coming production, supporting actors through their process. bringing to the artistic community of Philadelphia some tools around acting, movement and voice to explore the qualities of each performer....

Such kind of workshop has been repeated often following years as the mark of Wilma Theatre in the artistic world and its intention to create more initiatives and new input in the encounters with the public...


18 & 19 May 2019

Bucharest - ROMANIA

Unique Voice Workshop