Where are they now?! With Kristen Irwin

As part of our 5th birthday celebrations, we’ve been reflecting on everyone who’s part of the Viva Voice community of speakers and performers.

We couldn’t wait to invite past teacher Kristen Irwin to be part of our special series… Where are they now?!

This year we farewelled much-loved speech and drama teacher, Kristen Irwin. Kristen spent four years teaching at the studio and in that time, achieved her Associate Diploma in Drama and Performance from the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB).

This is the first in a series of interviews with Viva Voice family members, reflecting on five years of Viva!

1. Take us back to the beginning – how did you become part of Viva?
I was studying acting at Sydney Theatre School and Amy was my voice teacher. I found voice to be a really interesting subject and I loved how focusing on my voice and breath helped me gain confidence and add to my roles.

I came to the studio to look at some voice books and it seemed like a great place.

Then Amy needed a teacher and it was serendipitous for both of us!

2. Do you have any stand out memories from your time at Viva?
I can remember many times where I was crying-laughing from some of the improv scenes, particularly when they involved accents!

Also, when a student once showed me a Christmas card I had given him a couple of years prior that he still kept in his wallet. That was a really special moment to me that showed me how much that one hour a week can mean.

3. When you think back, what are five words you’d use to describe yourself five years ago?
I have absolutely no idea – haha, that’s five words!

4. Very clever! What are five words you’d use to describe yourself now?
Efficient. Empathetic. Positive. Reliable. Passionate.

5. What do you feel was the most valuable skill you gained from your time at Viva?
I think my time at Viva helped me gain more confidence. It launched me into the profession I have been steadily building since I started.

It taught also me how to create a safe and supportive environment for students. I am a better communicator in all facets of my life because of speech and drama and Viva Voice.

6. While you were teaching at Viva, you completed your Associate Diploma in Drama and Performance through AMEB. It’s a big exam with both practical and theory elements. What made you complete the Diploma?
I completed my ADPA because I really wanted to become a teacher and I solidify my skills in performance. Something I really appreciated in doing my studies was the opportunity to explore different styles of theatre from different historical periods. I find it so fascinating to know why a certain theatre style formed the way it did.

In my practical program I was able to include some of my own writing and create a program of pieces which held a larger message. It’s like no other exam I’ve ever done!

7. You left Viva at the end of last year to pursue further study, but we’ve been lucky to still see you when you cover a class or come along to Viva events. The big question the students are asking is… What are you doing now
I’m now studying psychology and working full time at Ascham School in Edgecliff, where I run the debating and mock trial program and teach speech and drama.

8. What do you hope to be doing in another five years’ time?
I hope to be working in the field of psychology, perhaps working with children in a clinic.

9. Do you use your speech and drama skills in your every day life?
It’s my job so I use it a lot professionally!

In my every day life, I am a better communicator with my friends and family. I think being able to word your thoughts clearly and express yourself and your intentions can do wonders for any relationship.

Also love to bust out an accent when I can!