Judylee Vivier
Professor, Head of Graduate Acting Concentration

Judylee Vivier (Brooklyn College)
313 Whitehead Hall
718-951-5000 x2763

Full Bio


MFA, Acting, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts
MA, Speech and Drama, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa
BA (Honors), Speech and Drama, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa

Professor Judylee Vivier is a full professor of theatre and the Director of the MFA Acting Program in the Department of Theater at Brooklyn College, where she was honored with the Claire Tow Award for Distinguished Teacher and more recently the Tow Professorship Award 2016-2017. She is an active and long-term member in the Association of Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and the Voice and Speech Trainers’ Association (VASTA).

Born in South Africa, she worked extensively as a professional theatre artist: a theater educator, director, and an actress and member of the acting company for Johannesburg’s Performing Arts Council and the Durban Theatre Workshop Company. She worked closely as an actress and researcher with Athol Fugard, the subject of her MA dissertation. Their collaboration culminated in the film, Fugard’s People (directed by Helena Nogueira), which toured the independent film circuit.

Vivier came to the U.S. as a Fulbright Scholar to study for an MFA in Acting at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Upon graduation, she spent a year at the Seattle Repertory Theatre during the tenures of Dan Sullivan and Doug Hughes; her roles included Poppy in Noises Off, directed by Ron Lagomasino. Upon her return to NY, she worked for Emanuel Azenberg at Iron Mountain Productions for two years before continuing her interest in educating/training of actors at Rutgers University, New York University, AMDA, Michael Howard Studios, and Brooklyn College–CUNY.

At Brooklyn College, she has participated in the Theater Department’s productions as Amanda in The Glass Menagerie, Delia in Ayckborne’s Bedroom Farce, directed by Thomas A. Bullard, and Arkardina in The Seagull, directed by Mary B. Robinson. Most recently, in 2015, she played the role of Bella in Charles Mee’s Big Love, directed by Mary Beth Easley. She also played the role of Gladys in Athol Fugard’s A Lesson from Aloes, directed by Thomas A. Bullard, at the 78th Street Theatre Lab. She developed and performed her own original solo performance piece, Oranges Like the Sun, with the support of several PSC-CUNY grants, at the 78th Street Theatre Lab in 2004 and 2005.

A specialist in both acting and voice production for the actor, Vivier has a keen interest in releasing and developing the power of each individual’s physical instrument. Professor Vivier spent two years at Hunter College studying for an MS in speech-language pathology and combines vocal training for the actor with rehabilitative work for professional performers afflicted with a pathology that limits their power and vocal expression. She teaches acting through her approach to voice work and encourages the actor find their natural voices by confronting the self, owning the full self, and bringing that truth to their work. She guides actors towards a physical and intellectual release of habitual holding patterns imposed on the individual for whatever reason by fear, which diminishes the power of authentic expression of the self and identity.

Vivier is an active member in the Association of Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and the Voice and Speech Trainers’ Association (VASTA), attending and participating in conferences annually. She served as a member of the Board during the years 2004-2007 and then again from 2012-2015. In 2007, Professor Vivier was honored with the Claire Tow Award for Distinguished Teacher. Vivier enjoys a relationship with the Royal Shakespeare Company that began in 2010 with an invitation to do a workshop for scholarship candidates in residence at the RSC. In the summer of 2011, Judylee worked with the RSC in New York during their six-week residency at the Lincoln Center Festival; she provided vocal support, pre-show vocal warm-ups, and vocal health maintenance to the company of actors. In Fall 2011, she was invited to participate in the RSC conference on Classical Training in the Theatre, held in Stratford-Upon-Avon. In Spring 2013, she provided vocal support/pre-show company vocal warm-ups to the RSC actors once again for the all-black production of Julius Caesar at BAM.

Over recent years, Vivier has accepted several invitations to teach Voice and Acting in the U.K. at the Central School of Speech and Drama London (2010), at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff (2012, 2013), and The Lyric Theatre, Belfast (2013). These experiences continue to inspire her to examine the context and influence of culture and identity on actor training. To this end, she has received numerous PSC-CUNY grants, including the Tow Faculty Research Travel Fellowships twice to support her research in the area of the voice and the expression of the self. She has published several articles, and in 2009, her chapter “The Breath: Heart and Soul of the Self,” was published in the anthology Breath in Action: The Art of Breath in Vocal and Holistic Practice (239), edited by Jane Boston and Rena Cook. In 2015, Routledge published in print a co-authored article with Brooklyn College alumna Kristi Dana, “The Value of Mentorship—Personal Journeys Inspired by the Teaching Philosophy of Chuck Jones” for The Voice and Speech Review, and online through Taylor and Francis.

After being actively involved in administrative experience during her tenure as director of the MFA Acting program and senior faculty at Brooklyn College, Vivier’s interests include leadership; in particular, leadership that is sustained and nurtured by emotional intelligence, which supports the premise of Influence Without Authority and continues to further her research in this approach. Vivier is currently on sabbatical, dedicating her time to the reinvigoration and expansion of her own process and practice as an actor, and also to deepen and enlighten her expertise as a teacher and mentor of the craft and business.

Vivier is a proud recipient of the Tow Professorship Award, 2016-2017.