Voice 3: The Command of Dialects
Once the actors’ voice has been freed from personal habits and speech patterns, it is now fully available to take on the broad range and dynamic possibilities of other voices. One reason, aside from their dedication to training that British actors are taking American roles, is their incredible command of dialects. Our work in Voice 3 is dedicated not just to dialect technique, but wedding a vocal pattern to a deep, rich connection to text. Common pitfalls in adopting an accent are a sacrificing of personal connection (acting the accent), and also a lack of specificity and consistency which can make a dialect sloppy and amateurish. Dialects are an important aspect to transformational character work, which is the highest form of acting. How do you combine craft and technique while also adopting a voice and speech pattern which is not your own? How do you do this without losing your ability to listen, respond and achieve, and without sacrificing what the playwright or screenwriter has created?
Consistency and Authenticity
Most actors, when confronted with the demand of a dialect, just wing it. They watch a few movies and cobble something together that sounds fake, inconsistent, and not true to the integrity of the dialect. It’s one of the biggest giveaways that we are watching an amateur, someone who has not mastered their craft. If you listen to any serious, successful actor discuss their process, the voice of the character is often the starting point for their interpretation. If an actor can learn a solid way to approach any dialect, it will provide consistency and authenticity. The best actors can fully disappear into a role, where the actor is no longer recognizable, it is only the vividness and richness of the character that an audience sees. A mastery of the vocal instrument makes this possible.
A Template for Developing Accents
Voice 3 is an introductory dialect class which will cover some of the most frequently requested accents: Standard British, American Southern, Parisian French, and West African French. Additionally, you will work on an independent dialect of your choice, tailored to your interests and possible casting opportunities. You will be given the precise tools to develop an accent with nuance, artistry, and clarity. Not only will you gain familiarity with a number of dialects, but you will leave with a template for studying and approaching voices other than your own. You want to be an actor who can take into account the rhythm of speech, particular environmental factors, and important insights into the origin of the accent.
“This class pushed me and pushed me to try new applications, specifically image work, that took my understanding of Shakespeare to a whole new level. I would take this class again. And again after that. Be warned: You’ll get out of it what you put into it.”
“I’ve never taken a voice class like this one before. By the end of the semester we were all able to live through highly emotional pieces, stay grounded and free in our bodies and still speak with the clarity and connection required for such heightened text.”
“The Studio offers so many amazing classes and all teachers bring immense passion and care for their students. I took Voice III with Amanda Quaid, we worked on dialects. Especially for me as a non-native speaker, this topic freaks me out.”