Skinner, Edith

Active 1929
Active 1944

Biographical notes:

Edith Warman Skinner was born on September 22, 1902 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. She was the third of four daughters of Herbert Havelock Warman and Agnes Lynn (Orr) Warman. After graduating from high school, Edith moved to the United States and began working at the Beechwood School for Girls in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. In 1923, she graduated from the Leland Powers School for the Spoken Word in Boston. While there, she met Margaret Prendergast McLean, disciple of phonetician William Tilly. Consequently, she became a student of Tilly's and his assistant in 1926. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Columbia in 1930 and 1931. Beginning in 1928, Margaret Hewes (Edith's sister) produced professional summer seasons at the Wharf Theatre in Provincetown MA where Skinner coached the company. After 1930, she also instructed apprentices in a full-scale training program - one of the first models for actor-training efforts within a professional company in the US. In 1935 Hewes turned over control of the Wharf theatre to Skinner. During her tenure as producing director the training program expanded and they produced an acclaimed revival of Ah Wilderness!, starring Sinclair Lewis. In 1937, Skinner joined the faculty of the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh, PA. While at CIT, her teaching affected a generation of actors and their training, including William Ball and Ellis Raab. Throughout her years at CIT she continued her professional coaching work, first at the Pittsburgh Playhouse and later, as former student actors and directors required her skills, throughout the country. She served as a speech consultant for William Ball's American Conservatory Theatre, in 1965, during its one season in Pittsburgh, before it relocated to San Francisco. In the late 1960s Skinner was invited by John Houseman to join the faculty of the soon-to-be-established Juilliard School of Drama. She accepted this appointment and for the next few years commuted between Pittsburgh and New York maintaining a full academic schedule at both schools. She also worked as speech consultant for McCarter Theatre, Princeton, and Ellis Raab's Lincoln Center Production of Streetcar Named Desire during this time. After retiring from CIT in 1974, she moved to New York City and continued her work at Julliard. At this time she was also active with the Theatre Company of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, etc. She died on July 25, 1981.

From the description of Papers of Edith Warman Skinner, 1902-1981. (University of Pittsburgh). WorldCat record id: 31140002


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  • Acting teachers
  • Performing arts--Study and teaching
  • Theater


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  • United States (as recorded)