Subject: A level project
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Subject: A level project
Saturday, 31 May 2014
I live in the English Midlands, and for the last two weeks have been whizzing up north and down south at a right rate: two London visits and three to Manchester in the space of nine days. Fun, though. One rehearsal, two readthros, an audition and one get-together with other actors and our agents, and a morning workshop in a Lichfield school. The next three weeks look to be just as busy. It's a basic law of acting that you spend weeks with no work and then the entire year's work falls in the same date slot so you're hoping they won't clash but they frequently do. Keeps you on your toes.
Saturday, 3 May 2014
Then a need to link to my CV for a funding application I was making on behalf Shoebox Theatre took me to my personal webpage where I was shocked to discover it was last updated months and months ago. I've put that right now.
I'm off on a break soon, after a pretty exhausting few weeks of work travel and filming. Looking forward to a rest and spending more time with my blog, before beginning on a new project.
Friday, 25 April 2014
Actors & Accents
So where to begin? As an avid follower of drama on Radio 4 (the Home Service as it was then known) I knew the perfect place. The BBC, of course. How many millions of listeners across the world have perfected their English over its airways? I have met one or two of them over the years: one a young Chinese woman, exiled to the countryside as a child with academic parents who were required to do farm labouring as part of their political re-education during the cultural revolution, taught herself the language from scratch using her father's clandestine recordings; and I marvelled at the human spirit's response to adversity, as well as the excellence of her English.
A year previous to my first theatre job and this injunction to change the way I spoke, I had been turned down by the Rose Bruford College of Dramatic Art. I was subsequently offered a place at The Central School of Speech and Drama, but didn't take it up because I found myself actually working in theatre, which suited me better. The interview panel at Rose Bruford had advised me to see a therapist to work on what they called a speech defect - my 'weak' r sound. So, back home again, I sought out a speech therapist who laughed when I told her what they had said. "That's not a speech defect. That's your Northumberland accent!" She suggested one or two exercises to help overcome the 'defect'; so it was to finding a 'correct' way of delivering the letter r that was my first listening task. What would I have to change to find the crispness of a clean English r and the rolling sound of the Scottish r. I found by experimentation that changing the positions of mouth, lips, tongue and throat; and flexing and relaxing the various muscles produced different effects in the voice; and as I listened to the different voices on the wireless, I tried to match these physical movements to make the sounds I was hearing. With practice and perseverance I found I was actually able to learn new voices. It is what I do today, I'd presented with a new ascent challenge. Using internet radio I seek out a local station in the address I'm interested in, and just listen. Then I write down the characteristics in my own devised symbols - I've never been able to grasp phonetic notation; listen some more, then try to sound it out, but always returning to listening. That way the brain seems to absorb the sounds and the cadences, so that it settles into the memory and becomes part of a repertoire of voices to be recalled later.
Saturday, 5 April 2014
I'm minded after a comment made on social media about my rubbish Geordie accent as Heather Pritchard to blog about dialects and accents and intra-regional differences. You have to laugh, really, though indignation was my first reaction. Come on, this is my Geordie accent, the one I grew up with, four miles north of the Tyne! But that blog will have to wait till tomorrow. Resting up after an exhausting filming day. Just joking. Half an hour's drive, two and a half hours hanging around and twenty minutes filming. Typical of a film shoot, but somehow I find that more exhausting than doing a workshop with a group of lively teenagers - and they are much more fun! Perhaps that's the secret.
In the meanwhile, here's the second of my two outings with The Archers for those able to access the BBC iPlayer http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03zdm66
Wednesday, 2 April 2014
In the meantime, here is a link to one of the The Archers podcasts in which I play Ruth's Mum, Heather, or, as we Tynesiders would call her, Mam. This link will only work for the next 6 days and might not be available universally: Ruth needs her Mum