​PHOTO: Professor Andrea Caban demonstrates her unique techniques to help actors in Barcelona utilize Spanish, Catalan, and other accents

When students speak, Professor Andrea Caban listens. And what she hears is the sound of their story: who they are, where they’re from, and what makes them unique.

As the head of voice and speech in CSULB’s Department of Theatre Arts, Caban guides her students in developing their skills while preserving their individuality.

“The history of speech training for actors has been based around a prescriptive model focusing on a ‘prestige’ accent,” said Caban, who is a master teacher of the Knight-Thompson Speechwork™ method.

“For a multicultural community like CSULB, or the United States—or even the world—one accent won’t work. It gets actors stuck in one mode of expression. My approach is to teach all the sounds of human language.”

The recipient of a Professors Around the World (PAW) grant for her project, The Intersection of English, Spanish, and Catalan Speech Training for Actors: An Initial Collaboration, Caban traveled to Barcelona in March to train teachers at the Eòlia Conservatory of Dramatic Arts.

The conservatory asked her to help teachers integrate two separate skills, with voice related to breathing, and speech related to shaping sounds with your mouth. Caban created pedagogical plans that would allow students more freedom to use Spanish or Catalan accents as they see fit.

“With this trip, I worked to create strong relationships with the actor-training institutions of Spain in order to refine and share my holistic approach to actor speech training for speakers of any language,” said Caban, “and to extend CSULB’s overseas institutional partnerships as well.”

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