Travis James: From Teacher to Director
At the time that he opened New York Speech Consulting in downtown Manhattan (SoHo), New York City, Travis was considering a variety of projects in his new start-up loft space. He was teaching New York based actors and performers, as well as collectively teaching communication skills to non-theatre professionals, including U.N. diplomats and executives on Wall Street. While using his degree from New York University, Tisch School in his coachings, where he studied acting techniques, he went on to pursue a Master’s degree at The Actor’s Studio, New School for Social Research, MFA. During this renaissance of exploration with other theatre professionals; actors, directors and writers in the International arts scene, Travis began developing his unique approach for non-actors. It was in this shift of using the cognitive awareness in his study of Industrial Organizational Psychology blended with cognitive training for the actor that became his newfound approach. Travis began his research based teaching in New York and Los Angeles where he became known as the “Accent Eliminator”. Today in his 23rd year of making this truly revolutionary approach to voice and speech a teaching community to the public. As a teacher, director and entrepreneur, Travis has honed this research based collaborative teaching method utilizing a variety of approaches that has reached the arts in education to corporate board rooms, bringing worlds of people together.
Discovering the Conversaid Classroom
So after his nearly 20 year journey, and after birthing the company LiveFaculty LLC and publishing multiple versions of the Conversaid Classroom materials, “Travis showed just how far his voice training could go into the mechanics of speech and pedagogy, especially when passion and hard work are involved,”, but I was convinced that there was more than one theatrical use of acting techniques to enhance early speech and communication development.” Travis recalls, “My realization was to include theatrical training in speech and early language development. I got excited about this possibility and Conversaid gave me the opportunity to make that dream a reality.”
A Collaboration Begins
While attending a seminar with Frank Corsaro in 1995, Travis met one of Corsaro’s MFA teachers at The New School in New York City. Her innovative methods of research based acting methods using music and movement for the development in the stage craft for performers. Now a professor at Pace University and director of research at ARTA, recalls, “About a year into my association with Travis, my whole training had been focused on how important it was in teaching speech to instruct how a student must speak, rather than saying, this is how developmentally we as children learn to speak and start there. I realized how important it was for me to be my students primary speech influencer, and I was eager to put my training into practice.” Travis was hired to consult on directing experiments and soon began the collaboration that culminated in the creation of the Conversaid materials and training techniques, first offered to the public in the fall of 2012.
From Entrepreneur to Director
2012 – the birth of a movement. ARTA merged LiveFaculty LLC and the Conversaid Classroom and program was born. Travis the teacher-turned director now added entrepreneur to his job description as he focused his efforts on scaling the business of his start-up. “I discovered that creating the material has a lot of the same concepts with putting a business plan together, that I’d been an entrepreneur all along.”
In the ten years that have followed those first classes, Conversaid has grown to a nationally-taught in, nationally-acclaimed program that has reached thousands of clients in over 6 continents and tens of foreign countries. Schools and corporations everywhere have utilized Conversaid activities into their development training programs. Travis continues to train potential ARTA teachers, speech professional, voice teachers, performers, and interested people in seminars held in all corners of the USA. and from the website Speak-Well.org.
Travis James conceived and developed the innovative Conversaid program for the Accent Reduction Training Association for Speech and Movement, which he founded in 1998. He has collaborated and directed numerous Off-Broadway productions and is a regular contributor of speech and acting articles on the Conversaid blog. He has created speech curriculums and conducted teacher training for numerous language centers over the past 25 years. A graduate of New York University, he studied for his Master’s degree at New School, Actor’s Studio Program in NYC. He’s happily married, and the father of three beautiful girls.