A Send-off for Kevin Crawford
At the end of this spring term, Kevin will be retiring. Anyone who has ever set foot through the doors of the Accademia dell’Arte knows Kevin Crawford. Even if you have never worked with him personally, the ADA is what it is today because of his impact. Kevin is one of the founding members of the Roy Hart Theatre Company. In 1993 he began working at Trinity College where he eventually met Scott McGehee. In 2004, Scott, Kevin, Katrin and Linda Brown founded the Accademia dell’Arte, where he served as the first Physical Theatre Program Director and the first MFA Program Director. His direction both pedagogically and administratively literally built the base on which every program stands at the ADA.
I came to Arezzo in search of a new perspective and I found Kevin Crawford. I met Kevin in 2006 on a wintery day in January visiting the school I would soon call home. Kevin was first my teacher then my mentor, colleague and friend. He guided me in the search of my voice, which I finally found again after years of suppression. His energy and excitement for voicework made me love to sing, shout, growl, creek, squawk and release my inner gargoyle. I know now that I found more than my voice, I found my truth. Kevin never tried to make me something. He never molded me or controlled my creative process. He encouraged me to be ME and pushed me through my barriers to be present with myself. I am humbled to carry Kevin’s legacy forward as I guide my students, anchored in his presence and passion.
We will miss him beyond expression in words and wish him all of the most beautiful paths to walk into this next chapter. We asked faculty, staff, alumni and current students to send us reflections on their work with Kevin. It is obvious that the seeds he has planted have grown beyond borders and his love and influence has spread throughout the world.
– Dory Sibley (Voice and Ensemble Performance Faculty, Short-Term Programs Director, Undergraduate Programs Associate)
Scott McGehee, (Founding Director), Katrin Pohl, (Director of Operations and Finance), and Kevin founded the Accademia dell’Arte together with Linda Brown in 2004, and have watched the Accademia develop into the thriving institution it is today. We sat down with Scott and Katrin to hear some thoughts about how Kevin has shaped the ADA from the very beginning.
How did you meet Kevin?
SCOTT: It was either 2002 or 2003. I decided to go to Trinity College in Dublin to get advice from faculty about how to set up a school. Kevin was introduced to me as a fantastic voice teacher that might be interested in what we were trying to do in Arezzo.
How does the ADA today compare to the very beginning?
KATRIN: The Accademia was an experiment in the beginning because none of us had ever created something like this before. It was an incredible work load, incredibly fun and creative. And now the Accademia is an institution with all of the pros and cons that an institution might present.
In one sentence, describe Kevin’s impact on the ADA?
SCOTT: If one could say that there is an atmosphere or aura of the ADA, it is the aura of Kevin Crawford.
KATRIN: Calma. Reflection. Equilibrium (balance). And an incredible know-how on many levels: Artistic, financial, organizational. He is really fit on many levels.
What would you like to say to him as he moves to the next chapter in his life?
KATRIN: I appreciate you. I will miss you. And I wish you the most beautiful and rich retreat. Rich with hiking, nature, art, teaching, still growing and having time to enjoy.
SCOTT: My first wish for you Kevin is that you not leave me alone in this crazy place but if you must, you must! Whatever you do decide to do, wherever you and Caroline decide to go, I am sure the world around you will blossom as it has for us with your presence for the last 15 years. You will always be welcome here as a permanent guest of honor.
From Accademia Faculty and Staff
In what ways has Kevin impacted the ADA?
Kevin’s wit and enormous talent have shaped the Accademia into what it is today. As I started working at the Accademia I remember watching him when he was the Director of the Undergraduate Theatre Program, teaching Voice and working on creating the MFA program. I remember saying to myself, this man has to have superpowers! It has been a true privilege working with him. –Monica Capacci (Director of Student Services and Admissions)
Kevin has been an incredible source of advice and support in all aspects of my three years as a faculty member of the Master program at the ADA. When I come across him working in his office it’s always an occasion for discussions about the students, pedagogy, administration, conversations about this book or that theory… always with the utmost respect and consideration for the career of the students and the work of his colleagues. I am really going to miss him. –Giangiacomo Colli (Undergraduate and MFA Programs Associate, Faculty, One-Year Physical Theatre Program Coordinator)
His passion and total dedication towards the students found its highest expression in the MFA Program which is, in a sense, Kevin’s baby. Working with him for the MFA Program, I always witnessed his 360 degrees of attention towards every single detail, far beyond pedagogical aspects. Far beyond office or teaching hours, far beyond the walls of Palazzo Gozzari or La Stalla. –Anuschka Jaenicke (Executive Director)
Kevin is the first person I met when I came to visit the ADA, and his subtle soul made me feel at home, and nourished my desire to be part of this organization. Kevin is a precious artist, pedagogue and collaborator with a special competence in his work and extreme focus and care in what he does. I experienced this directly when we worked together this year. He has a very special sensitivity and each meeting with him has been an occasion for me to learn something new. –Nhandan Circo (Physical Theatre Program Director)
Kevin is a person who will never stop looking for better solutions, as well including the ideas and advice of the others, on both, deep personal and highly professional level. When I read Kevin’s e-mails, since our first correspondence, they are full of enthusiasm, with honest thoughts (which is so rare nowadays), full of support, that always makes me feel a part of the collective, who is doing and creating something for better “tomorrow” in Accademia dell’Arte. Kevin’s critical thoughts are always encouraging and finally, his advices offer a new, different direction(s), which I found profoundly important in our collaboration and exchange. –Saso Vollmaier, (Guest Voice Faculty)
When I first came to the ADA, Kevin was one of the people that, forme, represented the school. Professional, patient, gentle, tactful, and with a great sense of humour, he remains one of the people you would always wish to be around. –Emilija Dimitrevic (Undergraduate Philosophy Faculty)
Kevin has been one of the pillars of the Accademia, contributing from the beginning in the development of every aspect of the school. It has always seemed to me that students have loved learning from him and laughing with him.As a colleague he has been always very professional and approachable at the same time. –Maria Cerbasi (Accounting and Admissions Assistant)
Someone once said (I forget who) that the Accademia is so special because you can feel the voices of all the past students & teachers echoing in the halls of Villa Godiola. Kevin’s voice will echo loudest, echo longest, and he will be conducting all of the others! He was my first point of contact with the Accademia when I was researching graduate schools in 2008 and probably was the biggest influencing factor of me joining MFA Cohort I. In the classroom and studio, Kevin is daring, playful, deeply perceptive, mischievous, challenging and kind … all at once. Many teachers say to “think outside the box”, but studying under Kevin I understood that sometimes there isn’t a box at all! Working as his colleague over the past few years, I’ve come to know that his playfulness is balanced by a practicality, knowledge and care for all of the things and people he is responsible for. –Bob Shryock (Director of Communications & Recruiting; MFA Cohort I, 2009-2011)
What would you like to say to him as he begins the next chapter of his life?
I wish to thank him deeply for the quality he brought to the ADA in all aspects of his work, for his support, his commitment and his great human nature that has been a major help to all of us. –Nhandan Circo (Physical Theatre Program Director)
I would like to encourage him to put his energy, his kindness and his smile into everything that will come in the future. –Francesca Barbini (General Administrative Assistant and Visa Coordinator)
For the future I wish him the happiest time and I would wish to see him return from time to time to the ADA because he is one of the best teachers that the ADA ever had. He will be missed. –Sabine Fichter (Dance Program Director)
My wish for Kevin is to find a place surrounded by nature and a community in which you can make art and live with your beloved Caroline. I wish you to be happy and to realize every dream you may have. –Maria Cerbasi (Accounting and Admissions Assistant)
Kevin, I believe now it’s the time for yourself, doing, creating, following all your wishes and personal projects you couldn’t follow in your busy schedule. I know you won’t stop working hard, whatever you will do – it’s in your nature, but I very much look forward to following your new ways and crossing paths with you sometimes. –Saso Vollmaier (Guest Voice Faculty)
At this point, when he is to start a new chapter of his life, I can only say: I will miss you tremendously, and I wish you all the best! –Emilija Dimitrevic (Undergraduate Philosophy Faculty)
Good luck, Kevin! Lucky are the people who will meet you on your following journey! On the other hand, I would like to say to him, that I really hope he stays around, that he still comes to teach for the Accademia and continues to give his imprint to the school. I also wish him lots of rest and good walks in nature as he loves to do in order to enjoy is well deserved retirement. –Anuschka Jaenicke (Executive Director)
I will miss him. I will miss his incredible talent showing through his students’ accomplishments. I will miss his sense of humor and kindness. I’ve learned so much from Kevin and I’m treasuring the memories of the past ten years. It’s hard to say goodbye but I know an amazing new chapter is about to open. –Monica Capacci (Director of Admissions and Student Services)
Bookends: from MFA Cohort I to MFA Cohort V
What was your first impression of Kevin?
I remember first meeting Kevin and learning that he was going to take my class on a mountian hike. I had grown up in the Appalachian Mountains and remember thinking… We’re really lucky to have Kevin as a teacher. My intuition was dead on!
How has he impacted you personally and professionally?
For weeks I was not making any progress in my speaking voice class. I watched my classmates voices become free, clear, and resonate. Mine wouldn’t change, I felt like a black sheep. With Kevin’s prompting, I added bells, a squeeze horn, to my electric bicycle. Think Pee Wee’s bicycle from Pee Wee’s Playhouse, but yellow instead of red. As I rode through Arezzo, I practiced my vocal lessons and combined sounds from the bells with my vocal lessons. It was absurdly ridiculous. Kevin encouraged me to keep practicing, to practice on that bicycle, and to find joy in rehearsal. It worked! I know that without Kevin’s non traditional teaching approaches I would have stayed locked in my vocal habitual.
What would you like to say to Kevin as he begins the next chapter?
Come visit! Instead of mountains you can see alligators, listen to low country South Carolinians talk, and canoe in swamps draped in Spanish moss. Auguri as you travel the world, guest direct, and keep sharing love, light, and laughter. Please do not be a stranger and know that you have had a profound impact on my life. Thank You Kevin! I truly appreciate your generous spirit, pedagogical brilliance, and friendship. Abbraccio!
– Ben Sota (Assistant Professor of Physical Theatre, Movement and Circus Arts, Coastal Carolina University; MFA Cohort I, 2009-2011)
Every so often you meet someone who will have a lasting resonance on your life, someone who will play a pivotal role in changing and defining the path that you are on. A little over ten years after I first met Kevin, it becomes ever more clear that his impact continues to resonate for me. I will come back to the word resonant, as I’m sure that anyone who kows Kevin will agree that it is very fitting for him.
Back in 2007 I took part in a Roy Hart vocal workshop with Kevin Crawford, at the University of Salford in the North West of England. I was in my final year of a BA Performing Arts degree at the time, and my university voice teacher Colette Murray had invited Kevin to teach at Salford for the weekend. Colette had been to the Roy Hart centre in Maléragues a couple of times and spoke very highly of the Roy Hart way of working, and of course, of Kevin himself. Though I’d never heard of Roy Hart or of Kevin Crawford, I was curious to know more and decided to sign up; and I suppose that you could say that that was when I began a new chapter and found myself on a path that I had never planned for or expected.
Kevin’s way of working was completely new and fascinating to me; I’d never met anyone quite like him! My university graduation was fast approaching and though I had enjoyed my studies, I felt like I needed some more, in depth vocal and physical training if I were to succeed in the industry. I’d been considering trying to get into one of ‘the’ drama schools, but the somewhat competitive and elitist feel of it all didn’t really attract me. Thinking that Kevin might be able to give some advice, I asked him if he could recommend any postgraduate/masters programmes. I was expecting to be pointed in the direction of one of the leading schools in London, but instead I was presented me with a brochure for the Accademia dell’Arte – an enchanting Tuscan hillside villa, currently dedicated to artistic exploration. The accademia was in the process of setting up a new MFA degree in physical theatre, where Kevin would work as programme director, vocal tutor and student mentor. After a weekend of working with Kevin, the prospect of spending two years training in this way seemed like a dream; a dream that was to become a reality.
After my ‘interesting’ audition piece – which Kevin likes to remind me of, much to my embarrassment – I was accepted onto the course and given a chance for which I am most grateful. Along with the rest of the faculty (including Peppy Biddy who I hear is also retiring this year), Kevin taught me how to listen, how to breathe and how to resonate. These aren’t things that I learnt over night, of course, or even over the course of two and a bit years studying at the ADA, but things that I am continuing explore and apply in my career. Kevin helped me to grow roots and to find my wings within my practice. He taught me about language, sound, rhythm, breath and space; about presence, movement, musicality, poetry and resonance; and about the possibilities within and connection between the voice and the body. The vocal body. And did I mention resonance?
Before I met Kevin I’m not sure I understood what real listening looked like. I certainly had no idea what it really meant it be present and resonant in time and in space. Listening is something that we humans are very good at pretending to do, but a lot of the time our mind is elsewhere: wondering what to have for dinner; worrying about a deadline; or already on to the next point that we want to make. Kevin, on the other hand, is someone who truly listens. Not just with his ears, but with his entire self; and he doesn’t just listen, but also responds and reacts. Kevin is a special kind of teacher who, rather than giving you the answers, will help you to trust your own instincts and explore the questions and possibilities that arise along the way. During the course of cohort one’s studies, Kevin was constantly listening to the students, taking on and responding to our feedback. As well as helping us to grow as artists, the open dialogue that he created would allow the MFA grow and to evolve as well. Knowing that you were really listened to made the Accademia dell’Arte ‘s MFA community feel very special to be a part of.
As Kevin now hands the MFA over to the current ADA faculty, I wish him all the very best and excitedly await to see where he will find himself next. Kevin played a significant part in my Italian adventure… if it weren’t for meeting him I’m not sure that I’d be in the privileged position that I am now, doing a job that I really love. With the accademia ever evolving and some of the key players and founding members moving on, it feels like the closing of a chapter, not just for Kevin but also myself and the MFA inaugural cohort. I am most grateful for my time working with Kevin and hope that we will have the possibility to work together again in some way or another. I’d wish him luck as he begins his new adventure (and maybe takes a well earned holiday), but I know that Kevin doesn’t really need luck. So instead I’ll just say thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Mille volte grazie per tutto quello che mi hai insegnato, and for the ongoing resonance that you have had in my career, in the ADA community and in the artistic world beyond.
– Louise Mellor (Freelance Actor, Physical Theatre Performer and Storyteller; MFA Cohort I, 2009-2011)
What was your first impression of Kevin?
My initial encounter with Kevin was pretty normal, a warm and welcoming hello in the office at Via Cavour. It wasn’t until our first class together that Kevin’s strange, generous, and delightful ways became apparent.
How has he impacted you personally and artistically over the course of the program?
I truly have nothing more than gratitude for every moment spent with Kevin. The support I received from him, both in and out of the studio, was a gift. Everyday conversations, honest advice in mentoring, collaborative chats about how we could best serve the entire cohort, kind suggestions to slow down and take care of myself during stressful moments, and even driving me to the hospital after I was hit by a car and staying by my side for hours. He cares about us as human beings and as artists. Artistically, he creates space. He allowed me to research my own vocal abilities and limitations, pushed me in moments when I was afraid, found unique entry points to open what was closed, energized me with sincerity and laughter, and since I come from a dance background, Kevin ultimately gave me a tool I didn’t believe I had… my voice.
What impact has he had on your cohort as a whole?
In the studio Kevin’s instruction is concise and organized with a clear trajectory, yet his instincts are unique and he is able to deviate from his plan when necessary. He searches for the right tools for each of us and tries different doors until we open. I believe he pushed us to new and strange places, gave us the skills to develop on our own, and overall united us as a group. Sometimes I wish he would have kicked our asses a little more, but that’s just me.
What would you like to say to Kevin as he begins the next chapter?
Dearest P.K., you will be missed and you are valued beyond words, grunts, peeps, and hums. I wish you such joy in this next chapter and know it will be creative, fruitful, and unique, just as you are. Thank you for your care, your diligence, your belief, and your play. We are all indebted to you and your gentle generosity.
–Nicole Nigro (MFA Cohort V, 2016-2018)
Thoughts from Alumni
At a very impressionable time, Kevin helped me realize my voice as a tool and instrument was MINE to do with as I pleased, regardless of what other mentors thought I should be doing or restrictions I had placed on myself. He made me realize, and therefore abolish, my own biased against my voice and capabilities; for that I’ll be forever grateful! –Awesta Zariff (Spring 2012, CAL 2017)
I love Kevin for his exuberance, his passion that finds a chord in gentleness. He guides students to rich and mysterious waters, and knows how to let them fly with delight. –Nike Redding (MFA Cohort IV, 2015-2017)
Kevin- a passionate, selfless, educator and mentor, who consistently reaches beyond himself for the good of his students. –Emily Peiffer (Spring 2016)
In just a few workshops, Kevin lead me to find my voice, my YOLP, my courage –Louisa Koeppel (Summer 2008)
My favorite thing about Kevin’s voice class was his ability to know exactly how to get your body out of its own way and help your true voice emerge. He may have shown us the “Spirit of the Wind,” but he was undeniably the Spirit of the ADA. –Kristen Wendt (Fall 2013, Student Life Coordinator 2015-2017)
Kevin, over a decade after having worked with you, I can still hear the prompts of “Rooh-oh-oh” and “I’m a violin” clearly in my memory and remember the freedom that came from playing with a certain set of Caliban text that will be forever etched in my memory. When I started writing this, I was instantly back in the Villa, seeing that twinkle in your eye as you led us through a series of joyful experimentations, embracing the opportunity to follow the work where it took us on any given day, leading us on a grand adventure that expanded our minds, bodies, voices, and capacity for connection—a journey I now try to emulate for my students, that they might feel a fraction of the release you gave me in five short weeks that changed me as an artist and person. Thank you. –Noelle GM Gibbs (Fall 2006)
Kevin helped me to find and embrace my voice. There are few things as empowering as that. Thank you Kevin!!” –Brittany Roa (MFA Cohort IV, 2015-2017)
Having the opportunity to work beside Kevin has been a privilege. I’ve been consistently blown away by his bottomless well of patience, thoughtfulness, and generosity of spirit. I wish only the best for Kevin in his next chapter. –Chris Truini (Fall 2015, Technical Coordinator 2016-2018)
Above all the sounds, gestures and breathing exercises Kevin Crawford taught the greatest wisdom I took away with me was commitment! Commit to being present, commit to taking care of your body as your precious instrument, commit to your fellow artists and yourself. –Jenna Dempsey (Fall 2009)
Kevin taught me to trust my voice, not just with regard to singing and text but also my inner voice. I will continue to carry Kevin’s teachings and friendship with me in this post-grad school adventure! –Justine Hince (MFA Cohort IV, 2015-2017)
In the short time that I’ve gotten to work with him, I’ve found Kevin’s energy to be endlessly positive, giving, and serene. In and out of class he is attentive and eager to share himself. Thank you for your kindness. –Becca Canziani (Fall 2015, Student Life Coordinator 2017-2019)
Kevin’s passion and depth of knowledge was like fire igniting my passion to move my voice and body in ways one would only call from the gods! He inspired a life in which to create art and live it. Thank you Kevin for a year of that fire that continues to burn! –Flora Bare, (One Year Program 2005-2006)
Kevin makes spirit-cries of flicking hands, flutter eyes, spilling hip-wide bowls, and artisanal strung throat folds Kevin makes song of us, robust, eager, unbust cusps. We quack, he listens. –Heidee Alsdorf (MFA Cohort V, 2016-2018)