Gigi Buffington and I first worked together at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Working with quite a large group of experienced professionals, Gigi was very effective, giving strength and vocal confidence and range in group classes and individually. Some years later on Broadway she came to the theatre twice a week to give me private warm up classes on stage.
- Sir Patrick Stewart
Suffice it to say that the depth and breadth of her knowledge is impressive and the true power of its application comes from her specificity and intuition. I intend to continue working with Ms. Buffington in the future… and I find myself recommending her services frequently and without reservation both to actors with specific vocal challenges and laypeople who wish to feel more full expressed in their lives and work.
- Carrie Coon, Tony Nominee for Best Supporting Actress Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Wolf and David Fincher’s Gone Girl
Gigi has such a great technical understanding of the different resonances of the body - a balance of which is needed to produce a rounded and expressive sound whilst speaking. Gigi is an incredibly wise teacher of these elements of the voice; she creates an atmosphere of pure trust and allowed me to explore these vital techniques in an uninhibited and totally liberating way…. My voice sessions with her were wonderful and I'm only sad we live in different continents because I would go to her every week if I could. I would recommend her to anyone as a teacher and an expert in professional theatre training.
- Johnny Flynn, Actor, Singer-Songwriter
Everything Gigi does is for the evolution of character, storytelling and serving the vision of the director. My work with Gigi on the Tempest has lived on even though this most beautiful piece has disappeared...into thin air. Often while working on House of Cards and Hands Of Stone-film and TV- I have remembered a few of the breathing exercises and have benefited. Gigi Buffington… is honoured by a Generation of New York Actors and is worthy of all praise. I recommend her for any job in the theatre but particularly in guiding the Actor through the labyrinth of vocal measures as well as understanding metered poetic plays, post realistic plays and even "Last Momma on the Couch" plays, to quote George Wolfe. Gigi Buffington is simply indefatigable excellence...with laughter!
- Reg E. Cathey, Actor, Emmy Award Winner, House Of Cards
I first met Gigi at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, where I was performing the role of Aufidius in Coriolanus. Gigi was assigned to guide and help develop us during the course of the grueling season. As a young actor, I found her expertise invaluable. Gigi quickly became a part of the rehearsal process, as crucial to the success of the production as anything else. Gigi has the rare ability of combining a forensic understanding of voice technique with the actual development of character. To her --as it should be-- they are one and the same. I never felt that working with her was a technical exercise. It always felt organic and vital… I always felt I was being challenged in a safe and nurturing way when working with Gigi.
- Chukwudi Iwuji, Artistic Associate, RSC
This past spring I was cast to play Ophelia opposite Peter Sarsgaard at the Classic Stage Company in NYC… Gigi was an incredible coach… By relating the "rules" of Shakespeare's poetry and punctuation to basic thought and action, Gigi made what once seemed daunting and complicated incredibly clear, simple and most importantly- human. She also showed me exercises that linked punctuation to physicality which was incredibly revealing in regard to character, breath and movement…I would recommend Gigi to any actor or director at any level. Her knowledge and enthusiasm are simply unparalleled and her depth of caring for the work and the artist as an individual is not only rare but truly inspired. I would be lucky to work with her again.
- Lisa Joyce, Actor
I have been playing Shylock in The Merchant of Venice in Stratford-upon-Avon this season and Gigi Buffington has provided an outstanding level of help and support. Her vocal warm-ups are perfectly structured to cope with the various demands of different actors playing a range of parts and she has been both effective and hugely popular with the company. Gigi's approach offers a combination of sensitivity and passion which, in my experience, few practitioners in her field achieve. For example, her awareness of the sometimes fragile state that actors can be in, prior to a performance, is remarkable. I have found that in the course of a warm-up session with Gigi I have been effortlessly delivered to a place where I am ready to do my job. Many actors (contrary to public perception) are introverted, and an imminent performance can frequently accentuate that inward-looking aspect of the persona. What I look for in a warm-up is to end up vocally confident, physically prepared and ready to "look the other fellow in the eye" on stage. Gigi has an unerring ability to get actors to that place. I whole-heartedly recommend her skill as a voice and speech practitioner. She has been a joy to work with and and it has been a real pleasure to get to know her.
- Angus Wright, Royal Shakespeare Company
The other day someone asked me to take a minute to honour my teachers, and I thought of Gigi Buffington. I honoured her for her genius, her immense courage, her love of the ridiculous and above all her passion. I think Gigi is an asset to this profession and an extremely important practitioner. There quite simply aren't enough people working in the way she does. With joy. In short, you would be foolish not to have her around... She connected me to my breath, body and voice in a profound way that unlocked courage in me I didn't know I had. I played Ophelia in Hamlet with David Tennant at the Royal Shakespeare Company and I quite simply couldn't have done it without her. She gave us all wings, and when we got on stage, we flew.
- Mariah Gale, Artistic Associate, Royal Shakespeare Company
As one of the leading actors from the 2008/09 season at the RSC I found Gigi to be an outstanding member of the company. She was without fail a positive force to have around and incredibly professional. She was always very helpful and extremely encouraging. A casualty of playing Kate in Taming of the Shrew is how demanding that role can be on the vocal cords. Working with Gigi I found a way to protect my voice and honor the role at the same time. I would thoroughly recommend her, she would be an asset wherever she works.
- Michelle Gomez, Royal Shakespeare Company
In a recent production of The Tempest, we were fortunate to have Gigi as an acting/voice/text coach. She was magnificent! In my career I have had the good fortune to work and train with some master teachers, such as Lloyd Richards, Olympia Dukakis, Earl Gister, Slava Dolgachev, Ron Van Lieu and others. My experience with these many seasoned professionals has taught me to recognize when someone has put in the time to become particularly gifted at what they do. Gigi is exceptional at working with actors. She has a well trained eye for recognizing just what each actor's needs are, which can often be an endless list. I am in awe of her patience. There can be many barriers working with actors. Using great poise and patience, Gigi cuts right through them to get to the work that needs to be done. The clarity and insights she led us to were amazing. She was generous enough to let us think they were mostly our own discoveries, which I think is the mark of a smart teacher and great collaborator... I was specifically singled out by one reviewer for my speech and how I handled the language. "Baker is the exception, reveling in every syllable of Antonio's villainy with exquisite diction", THEATERMANIA. That was a direct result of working with Gigi.
- Earl Baker Jr., Actor
I worked with Gigi for 8 months at the Royal Shakespeare Company where I played Jessica in The Merchant of Venice and Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew. I can honestly say she was the most influential person during my time at the RSC. She totally transformed my work. She understands bodies and voices and breath work like very few coaches I have encountered and I very much hope to find a way to work with her again. I therefore unreservedly recommend her.
- Amara Karan, Royal Shakespeare Company
Everyone of us in the cast depended so much on Gigi’s guidance … that she immediately became our closest ally during the rehearsal period. We fought to get a session with her… The environment she creates is both warm and welcoming that makes an already high strung actor soon become less anxious and more open; and yet she accomplishes the task at hand with ease, clarity and concise coaching… But most importantly, she is an expert in how the language is clearly understood and interpreted… Gigi is passionate about her craft! She is talented, competent, loving and a professional.
- Ching Valdes-Aran- Obie-award winner, Actor, Director, Visual Artist
Gigi was my voice tutor at The Royal Shakespeare Company and I, along with many of the other actors, benefited immensely from her position within The Company. Her role there included working as a one on one voice tutor, addressing the actor's specific needs, and as a Company Voice director, leading company warm ups plus holding group text and speech workshops. On top of this, Gigi offered extra voice and dialect work to all of the actors outside of her schedule, and whenever time would permit, which was generous beyond belief! During our time working with Gigi, I would say that our voices grew tremendously and that we had a great understanding of our voices technically. I found that Gigi has an astute understanding of the individual's needs. I can honestly say that I don't know how I would have got through the work without Gigi's expert guidance, and understanding. Through her tuition, I was soon able to access parts of my voice that were lost due to tension and she guided me through maximizing my breath support with strong Technical advice and an intuitive care. My body and voice freed up so much so that I was able to access a deep range onstage which benefited my performance. Most of the actors finished their contract at the RSC with so many extra tools, rich full voices and with a real thirst for a continuation with the exploration of The voice. I believe this is largely due to Gigi Buffington!
- Kathryn Drysdale, Royal Shakespeare Company
Gigi Buffington was my voice coach at the RSC during the 'Hamlet' season. I enthusiastically recommend Gigi Buffington to potential employers. She is as creative with practical/physical voice training as she is with text based exploration and as comfortable providing focused individual attention as she is leading the ensemble as a group. She is one of the most gifted and personable voice coaches I have ever worked beside.
- Ryan Gage, Actor, Royal Shakespeare Company
…Gigi Buffington, a critically important addition to the theater-making landscape of New York City and the United States. I have… found her to be nothing less than brilliant, insightful, inspired and inspiring… Her voice and text work is extraordinary… Her work with Re E Cathey (Prospero) and all the actors on the show was indispensible to the production… Gigi’s disciplined expertise ignited all the actors in their thoughts and in the voice/ body connection… In her work Gigi repeatedly demonstrates remarkable confidence and sensitivity to the individual actors.
- Karin Coonrod, Director and Artistic Director of Colombari
I first met Gigi Buffington when she was hired as a Text coach for the Shakespeare Society workshop of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that I was directing… She was brought in as a consultant, along with James Shapiro, to help with this workshop… It is important to talk about how easily she worked with actors. She had such an easy rapport and back and forth with the whole group. She knew how to offer ideas and when and the actors were eager and receptive to her thoughts, which is often not the case with actors, who quite often balk at too many voices in the room. She added things to the conversation that wouldn't otherwise have been said were she not in the room, given her expertise and experience. She was quite helpful in lifting out components of the text, including structure, rhetoric, framing words, simile, emphasis, highlighting things that she really heard and/or missed. I would absolutely want to hire her on any production that I was working on because of the shear difference in quality from having her around. I would highly recommend her to other directors looking for a vocal and/or text coach.
- Eric Tucker, Director, Bedlam Theatre
As incoming Artistic Director of ACT Theatre, and a 25-year veteran of directing freelance across the country, I have been incredibly grateful for every opportunity to work with Gigi. She is a true partner in the process and a joy to work with. Gigi has consistently unlocked vocal and emotional chambers in actors that surprised and delighted myself and colleagues. Her vigilance and laser-focus, housed in deep kindness and an unfaltering love of the work, has proven to be the perfect cocktail to challenge and benefit the work of every actor (and director) who has the fortune to work with her.
- John Langs, Artistic Director, ACT Seattle
I’m not always the easiest director for a text coach to work with. I get nervous when I feel that something is being applied to the process that doesn’t grow out of the rehearsals. This is not who Gigi Buffington is. She is a full collaborator who brings enormous skill, heart, love, and commitment to her work. Oh, and please let me add patience. There are no quick fixes in terms of voice and text. The answers are not in the back of the book. She has folded Voice and Text into the everyday business of putting up a play and invited all of us to share in the responsibility… Needless to say, I’m a fan of Gigi Buffington. She has become a tremendous asset at one of my favorite theatres in the country. I respect her skills and intelligence. I cherish the faith she has in her fellow artists. And I adore her full blown enthusiasm.
- Bill Brown, Director, Jeff Award Winner
… The Ring Cycle, took English translations of the opera librettos and created a long form play, coming in at six hours… What Gigi contributed to our production was nothing short of magic. .. This group of actors, with her help, continue to perform a brilliant show twice a week for six hours of heightened text. She has given them the skills to warm up as a group, and to last vocally through the endurance of the production. We couldn’t have done it without her. Without a doubt, I think that Gigi is one of the finest vocal coaches in the world…
- Joanie Schultz, Stage Director
To be a great voice and textcoach, in our opinion, requires three sets of skills that are perilously hard to find in a single person. Indeed, it hard to find the central skill in any individual: an immense technical knowledge of vocal productionand its finely tuned application to advanced texts. Gigi's deep understanding of the technical aspects of the voiceand of advanced verse speaking skills and her superb ability to apply that knowledge and experience - gained amongst some of the best practitioners in the world- to a dense text, working withactors with ahuge range of experienceand training, is truly outstanding… Gigi, who has worked with Shakespearean actors of international renown, is as ambitious and committed when working with a young beginner as she is with a senior actor with decades of experience. Always constructively demanding, she is also invariably enthusiastic and sensitive to the terrors every actorfaces when performing atthe highest levels. She understands actors and loves them. And they know it and under her tutelage grow in confidence as well as skill. And finally, Gigi knows dramatic literature and knows the theater. All of her considerable skills are directed towards releasing the playwright's voice and ultimately to the success of a particular production taken as a whole, with all its given circumstances. She is a true team player and was a central part of the core artistic team for Richard III.
- David Frank, Producing Artistic Director
- Brenda DeVita Associate Artistic Director
She has had stellar teachers and mentors, from whom she has gained first-rate technique and pedagogy, however her many years spentas a dancer and musician have lent her work what I believe to be an unusual range and depth. Gigi's work on Richard III has set new benchmarks for the APT voice and text team. The actors in this production---apprentice to veteran---are not only vividly clear and expressive, but they are working dynamically with exceptional ease, two things that all too rarely take place simultaneously, particularly in a large outdoor performance venue. The actors' technique is entirely transparent and in service of character and story. Actors have acknowledged Gigi for giving them ways of working, and goals to accomplish as the production plays through the season. The director of Richard III found her an invaluable co-creator and says he could not have done the production without her… I have spent 35 years as a teacher and coach, seeing the work of many practitioners along the way!
- Susan Sweeney, Master of Voice and Text, Professor Emerita University of Wisconsin-Madison
Gigi has remarkable balance in her work. One I think is sorely lacking in the American Theater, is her ability to truly collaborate—to champion one’s work with a sort of ruthless integrity, and yet, on the same hand, to be open to the possibility that there may be another way to do that same idea… To be able to see that moment, is a skill which is not in the textbooks. It is a sensitivity to the moment, to being in the moment, and being acutely aware of what is needed. This takes enormous focus and discipline. By no means do I infer that Gigi does not champion her work—quite the opposite, she has an untiring relentlessness to her, which I mean in the best sense of the word. She pushed and challenged both myself and the cast greatly. The distinction of Gigi is that she can champion her ideas in such a way that they can be heard and accepted, and also acted. It is with great pleasure that I recommend Gigi, without reservation.
- James DeVita, Actor/ Director
From the first moment we met, Gigi was excited and ready to get started. Her energy was infectious. She made you want to work harder. In our coaching sessions we would have wonderful conversations about life and process. She asked me questions, she listened and was always open to my opinions. Othello uses quite a bit of imagery in his speeches and that was daunting and frustrating at times because he switches from one image to another so quickly. I felt like a first grader trying to make my way through high school algebra, but Gigi had the patience of a Zen master and allowed me to crawl and then in my own time walk then run. Her goal was to help me create an Othello that was uniquely mine. I am not sure if I can fully articulate how invaluable she was to me, but I will say this, my success with Othello was strictly due to her and her style of teaching and coaching.
- Chike Johnson, Actor
Gigi was an invaluable member of our faculty for as long as she chose to stay in Chicago. She has expertise in Voice and Text. She's an innovator. She has excellent rapport with students and fellow teachers. She's very smart, professional, and talented. As you can see, I highly recommend her.
- Sheldon Patinkin, Chair Emeritus, Columbia College Chicago
A class or coaching session with Gigi is first and foremost a personal journey with a "secure partner"- a concept articulated by Jerzy Grotowski that has great resonance as I speak about Gigi's work. Grotowski states that the "secure partner" is hard to define, but it is "the special being in front of whom he does everything, in front of whom he plays with the other characters and to whom he reveals his most personal problems and experiences." There is an element of the therapeutic in Gigi's work with actors. Certainly she is a forensic technician as a teacher of voice, speech and text, but I think her great gift is to invite students to be rigorous in pursuit of strong technique while demanding that they be transparent as performers, vocally, physically emotively. She helps actors 'get clean' in their work, customizing her notes, comments, suggestions and sage advice to the needs of the individual. She does this intensive, delicate work to serve the student, the playwright and ultimately, the community, the audience.
- Jeff Ginsberg: Actor, Director, Coordinator of Acting: Columbia College Chicago
From the moment I met Gigi Buffington I had a deep feeling of respect and admiration for her and her work. Her interdisciplinary and international training is knit into her work and creates a complexity and breadth in her teaching. None of these outstanding aspects of Gigi's work alone would make her the gifted artist and teacher that she is. Gigi's generous spirit as a collaborator, fellow artist, teacher and friend make her a gifted communicator whose impact touches and remains with those who have studied, created and worked with her.
- Ann Boyd, Director, Choreographer
I just wanted to pass on my wonderful experience working with Gigi Buffington. It was my privilege to work on a workshop of A Midsummer Nights Dream, using five actors directed by Bedlams artistic director, Eric Tucker. The workshop preceded a full production realized in the summer and Gigi was a huge asset as a text/ dramaturg to the process. Not only was she informative and generous with her time and research, she's a great, fun energy in the room! I would love to work with Gigi again and again.
- Nance Williamson, Actor
Combining the original Greek text (expertly coached by Gigi Buffington) with modern colloquialisms, An Illiad expresses its relevance.
- Broadway World
Read more about Voice and Text work in "Shakespeare in Modern English" by James Shapiro.