David Smukler


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This documentary project chronicles the important work of Canadian theatre artist and master voice practitioner David Smukler. It is intended as a moving archive of the voice and David’s remarkable ability to see into the soul of the artist. The film follows him into the studio where humanity is revealed through the process of voice work, a process to which the audience is rarely privy. Studio scenes are woven together with intimate interviews with David, artists and colleagues from across the country and framed within a natural environment. External shots of trees, water and sky contrast the subjective internal world or the artist with a more objective, natural environment. The natural world fuels David’s practice and reflects the organic process of the work emphasizing David’s connection to earth, breath, heartbeat and light. Too often we allow the contribution of our senior artists in Canada to go undocumented. The directors Laurel Paetz and LJ Nelles, both trained as voice teachers with David and offer this film as a legacy to his enormous and lasting contribution to the artistic community in Canada.

Primary photography is complete thanks to a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2012 and the generous donation of time by the many artists we interviewed for this project, however we have had to halt production when our money ran out. We are looking to raise the remaining funds to continue the editing phase of the project and are anxious to complete it so that it can be shown at David’s retirement celebration later this year.


EST would be most grateful for your support for this important project. EST is a not for profit organization with a charitable tax number and celebrates its 55th year of serving the arts community in Canada in 2015. You may click on the Canada Helps logo or click here to show your support. At the point of your gift you will receive a charitable receipt and be listed as a supporter of this project. To donate to Breath is Alive, choose the third item in the drop down menu.

About David Smukler

David Smukler Mr. Smukler is one of the most respected voice teachers in North America. He is on the faculty of York U.’s Dept. of Theatre where he supervises the Voice Teacher Diploma in the MFA Acting Program, is the Director of the National Voice Intensive held each May in Vancouver and teaches professional classes at EST. After training at Carnegie Institute of Technology and Columbia U., he had a Rockefeller Grant to study voice production according to the principles of Iris Warren under Kristin Linklater. As a voice coach in Canada, England, the Netherlands, and the US, he has worked in theatre from classical theatre, opera and musical theatre, film, television, radio, to contemporary and experimental theatre and music with such companies as: the Stratford Festival (nine seasons), Alberta Theatre Projects, CanStage, The Royal Alex, The National Arts Centre (Canada); the Tyrone Guthrie and the Open Theatre (United States), the Royal Court and the English Opera Group (England); as well as the Apple, Centrum and Globe theatre companies (The Netherlands). He has taught at major drama schools in the US, England, The Netherlands and Canada.

Mr. Smukler has coached on over a hundred and twenty-five film and television productions.