ASU theater professor recognized as leader in field
Espinosa is a professor of voice and acting in the ASU School of Music, Dance and Theatre and affiliate faculty with the School of Transborder Studies and The Sidney Poitier New American Film School. Her work focuses on voice, speech and dialects in theater and film.
“When I tell people I'm a voice teacher, most of the time they tell me how much they hate their voice,” Espinosa said. “I try to help people love themselves and to have a kinder, gentler relationship with their voice.”
Founded by Catherine Fitzmaurice, the Fitzmaurice Institute advocates for an inclusive, body-centered approach to voice work. According to its website, the Fitzmaurice Institute “(supports) people in finding and using their unique voices — in healthy, clear and creative ways — while also developing greater freedom and presence.”
As the first artistic director following the founder, Espinosa said she stands by the values of the institute, and that she is dedicated to furthering the goals and mission of the organization.
“Catherine Fitzmaurice has been such an inspiration to me,” said Espinosa, “and I am really humbled to be given this opportunity.”
Espinosa was drawn to voice work when she lost her voice as a young actress. Fitzmaurice's research not only helped Espinosa recover her physical voice, but also empowered her to speak up as an advocate, she said.
Espinosa’s research and performance focuses on social justice in actor training and global perspectives. She has been working with the Fitzmaurice Institute as a practitioner of the method for 24 years, and as a core trainer for the institute since its inception.
In 2020, Espinosa produced the globally-attended Fitzmaurice Virtual Summit. Since becoming artistic director, she has developed a series of in-person and online trainings, as well as monthly free introductory workshops, and expanded the advisory group and regional directors of six continents. In 2023, she plans to produce the international Freedom and Focus Conference, which celebrates the Fitzmaurice Voicework, in Los Angeles.
“The work is expansive and continuing to grow,” she said. “I love what I do.”
Espinosa continues to receive national and international recognition as a leader in her field. Last fall, she was inducted into the National Theatre Conference for her advocacy and leadership in theater. The organization has been advocating and supporting the American theater since 1925. Membership is capped at no more than 150, and each year, only a limited number of members are inducted. These inductees are recognized for their roles as leaders in commercial, nonprofit and university fields.
“To be recognized as a distinguished member of the American theater by the National Theatre Conference is a great honor,” Espinosa said. “In the spirit of interchange, I hope to add a cultural and global perspective to the historically Eurocentric and Anglo-dominated field.”
“We are thrilled that Professor Espinosa has been recognized as a leader in her field through her role in the Fitzmaurice Institute and her induction into the National Theatre Conference,” said Heather Landes, director of the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “This recognition raises awareness of Professor Espinosa’s important activism, advocacy and research focused on diversifying the field, lifting up underrepresented voices and building more relevant resources for Latinx actor preparation.”
As an ASU professor, Espinosa brings her expertise and broad perspective to her classes every semester. Her Introduction to Voice class has about 20 students, all seated on the floor on meditation pillows — never at chairs and tables. She said the Fitzmaurice practice helps students understand tension and release through their understanding of gravity, which creates a deeper connection to self and others.
“My goal in the classroom is to invite curiosity, breath-body awareness and presence,” Espinosa said. “I want my students to develop a healthy practice where they can listen to their whole body and be empowered.”