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 …

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 …

I have just had the weirdest experience, where two worlds appear to have collided, and changed places in the universe. The two worlds are those of theatre practice and theory of theatre.  They are mythical worlds, because only those individuals who try to maintain that they are, indeed, pure or separate or totally independent of each other actually believe that they exist. I was one of them once, as a practitioner, before I embarked upon my own academic research project and began to understand something of the value of theoretical scholarship. But it is fair to say that there are still many academic theorists who have little understanding of the nature of actual, on the shop floor, theatre practice, and …

Doing it anyway, in the face of fear

Just watched a very disturbing Ted Talk, in which the speaker proposes that if we all lose our fear of failure we can change the world – and that’s all you have to do. She’s speaking from the position of working with one of the world’s best funded Defence research institutions, where the failure concerned doesn’t seem to have any personal consequences other than the odd night of disturbed sleep. As for the rest of us, especially performers, fear of failure generally involves more than that. First and foremost there is the fear of looking like an idiot in front of an audience. There’s the financial cost, the time and energy lost as well as the disappointment that can be …

The Ending is just the Beginning

My thanks to The Living End for the headline above. I adore their latest cd, it keeps me bopping in the car (when I’m not listening to podcasts from the BBC World Service). So, The Voice Class 2012 Term 1 has concluded.  This was quite a stunningly eclectic class, with students from very different walks of life, and different directions for their vocal needs.  Live theatre, voice overs, seminar presentation and choral singing – our common ground the unique and wonderful voice of each individual. Preparation are now in hand for Term 2, which begins on April 16th.  As I explained to the students last night, we will return to basic principles, the foundational work for developing and caring for …