Erika Bailey ’90, P’26 has always loved reading Shakespeare and classic novels. In her conservatory theater training, she says, “the voice classes about language structures and images, how to make language come alive and how to learn unfamiliar accents—those were all things I loved.” 

Bailey works with professional actors as the head of voice and speech at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard, with undergraduates as a lecturer at the university, and with individuals as a public speaking coach. She says she grew up a “theater kid” in Cambridge, Mass., and found her niche as a junior at Concord Academy, when she performed the title role in Antigone. “I felt thrilled to be able to stand on the stage and tell that story,” Bailey says. “That was this pivot point in my Concord career. It’s when I found my space.” 

The following year, during Romeo and Juliet, director Kevin Jennings, then a history teacher at CA, introduced her to Stanislavski’s objectives in acting. “I have such a clear memory of him explaining this pivotal concept in theater technique,” she says. 

Her English courses also made an impression. “Perdita Connolly’s Shakespeare’s Sisters class on women’s literature changed my worldview,” Bailey says. She remembers reading Macbeth in another class—in particular, a line spoken by Macduff after his family is slaughtered: “What, all my pretty chickens and their dam/At one fell swoop?”—and feeling “gutted by how it was written.” 

This deep engagement with language shaped Bailey’s theater career. She gained acting experience at Williams College, then landed some parts in New York before earning an MFA at Brandeis. Bailey later completed a master’s in voice studies at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. The following year, while interning as a voice teacher at Juilliard, she says she experienced a “magical transition from being an actor knocking on doors” to being in demand for her vocal work. She then coached at regional theaters across the country and on Broadway before moving back to the Boston area to teach voice in the A.R.T. graduate program. 

Concord Academy is the only high school where Bailey has lent her expertise to student productions. She was a dialect coach for Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde in January 2022 and Sense and Sensibility in November 2023. For both, she helped students contextualize history through embodied experience—learning how modulating accents could help characters “marry up” and how varying pitch can convey excitement or scorn. 

“I hope that playing with accents got them thinking about how people in those eras could make their voices part of their arsenal in pursuit of higher social standing,” she says. 

Bailey has relished returning to CA as a professional and a parent, getting to know her twins’ friends on stage. “These moments in life that circle back feel so gratifying,” she says.

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