The Voice, the Whole Voice, and Nothing But the Voice

These days I seem to hear just about everybody in film or TV dramas performing at least 80% of the time “off voice”, speaking in a semi-whisper, or creaking or croaking. I can’t bear it. It’s the fashion, I’m an old fogey, my hearing is Good For My Age, which means not as good as the average 25 year old, so this means most of the time the dialogue is just at the edge of my comprehension. No point turning up the volume. Because the so-called “background” music will just get louder too.. My guess is that the directors think it denotes intensity. They don’t do it in the comedies. Or at least not as much. For me, it denotes …

My Jaw Loves Me – so Why Not Love It Back?

Last week, I suggested that there are 5 things you need to know before you can learn to relax your jaw. 1 – Your jaw is your best friend; 2 – Your jaw will protect you to the death; 3 – Your jaw is a workaholic; 4 – Your jaw will not voluntarily take a holiday; 5 – Your jaw will love you even more when you manage to convince it that you can manage without it from time to time. Your jaw is your best friend. It has been looking after you with great care all your life.  It has taken responsibility for protecting you from the outside world, and it is very, very good at it. Watch any newborn baby expressing itself. …

Accent on Voice

Accents are often the first thing on the minds of young actors, and there’s no doubt being able to speak with different accents is a useful skill.  This article  came to me from my dear friend and colleague, Amy Stoller, one of New York’s top accent coaches. The author shares his experience of discovering that his Pakistani accent had modified itself quite unbeknownst to him, as he lived for years in the States, and how he realises now how much cultural, social and even political baggage  – if not downright prejudice – is attached to the way people pronounce their words. My own experience confirms this, albeit in a pretty mild way, compared to the challenges faced by people from different …

Voice IS Movement

A week or so ago I ran into a young woman who had taken part in some short classes I once ran for a group of performance studies students. There were five hour long classes, not compulsory. Some students came to all five, some would arrive late, others would leave early to finish assignments or attend rehearsals. As far as I am aware, this was their only opportunity for voice training. The young woman apologised that she hadn’t followed up on the voice work because she had spent the past six years “working on my body instead”. I was so shocked in that moment that I had absolutely nothing to say. Thoughts like “I’ve failed!” “I must be a dreadfully …

Clarity of Thought and how to get it

I once wrote a poem about trying to write a poem. It goes like this: It’s never enough The words inside my head Scrambling for freedom It’s never enough The space between the words Inviting interference. It’s not enough To know, to have, to feel. There must be Space Outside my head A clear perceptive silence Room to manoeuvre. Then I decided to include this poem in a play about an actor who was also a poet. It became a shared moment between the actor and her grandson, a way for him to demonstratte to her that he had read her work. But as soon as we (I played the actor) began rehearsing the scene, I realised that it was …