Hello one and all!
I’m back with my revitalised project and a new wave of excitement and determination!
My honours project is now titled:
‘The audible, the accent and the Aussie’: an inquiry into the relevant use of accents in modern Australian theatrical performance.
My project is an experimental look into answering the question: “Do accents matter in modern theatrical performance?”
It’s a topical issue that has pros and cons in every direction and argument. No-one has, and probably never will, be able to provide a clear-cut answer because there are many variables to consider.
I’m not looking to provide definitive answers to all the questions, especially in a mere 8 months worth of study. I am however, looking to discover and interesting conversation about this discussion that can hopefully lead into further study and experimentation in the future!
In May 2016, nearing the end of my first semester of University for this year, I’ll produce a scene, extracted from a Shakespearean play. It’ll be a scene that involves three actors. For this project, I’ll only be focusing on the response of Australian audiences to my project, but this is a project that could easily be expanded into other countries at a later point in time.
My scene will have three actors performing a scene from a famous Shakespearean play, however, each actor will speak in a different accent. One actor will speak in Received Pronunciation (RP), one actor will speak in the phonology that is Original Pronunciation (OP) (see: previous post: Research: Original Pronunciation and IPA), and the third actor will speak in their natural Australian accent (for this experiment we’ll refer to it as Natural Pronunciation (NP) (because it is whatever voice comes naturally to them)). The scene will be performed and after the performance, the audience will be asked to respond as to which accent appeared to sound the most natural and relatable to the text that was spoken.
Shakespearean works aren’t native to Australia, they’re British. However, Shakespearean works are recognised and performed worldwide on a daily basis. So it is for this reason that I chose to use a Shakespearean work for my experiment. It creates a base text that can then be used for further experimentation with other countries at a later date.
The outcome of this performance won’t be known until the scene has been presented and the audience has absorbed the work. I’m guessing that the local Australian audience will feel that the actor speaking in their own natural accent, will sound the most natural with the text. This may not be the case however, as the actor’s skill with performance, will also play a part in the believability of the performance.
There are a lot of factors in this project. Many of them can be a bit out of my control. But the experimentation and findings of this project should be quite interesting and will hopefully produce an interesting argument and body of work in the process.
At the end of the second semester, I’ll stage either a full play, or multiple scenes from a play, featuring the accent that the mid-year audience preferred as portraying the text naturalistically. This time however, the scenes that are produced will be from an international play that is of different origins to the accent that is being spoken. This juxtaposition may be jarring to the audience, or it may seem to work. This outcome will also be an interesting finding that won’t be discovered until the performance is carried out.
By the end of this year, and of this project, hopefully I will have gained some insight into whether Australian audience prefer to hear their own accent on stage, or whether they prefer to hear something from another region.
I understand that this project is limited by: the number of accents being performed, the location that the performances take place, the skills of the actors in the performance, and the audiences that attend my performances. However, for my 8-9 month-long Honours Project, the parameters have to be set small. If the project undertaken is too large, big holes can appear in the project. So it is better to keep the thing small and succinct. Then following the project’s completion, extend the project to the rest of Australia; following that – to Australasia, and following that – to the Southern Hemisphere and so on and so forth.
If my Australian audience prefers to hear the dialogue in their natural accent, that could be the beginning of an argument to eliminate accents from modern performance, and vice versa.
Anyway, that’s all the time I have for now. I’ve got to go to work.
But hopefully you can start to see where my ideas are stemming from, that something is starting to take shape, and that there is a lot of interesting discoveries to be made – now into the future.
Hope you are all having a wonderful day!
Now that my idea is starting to become cemented, I’ll be able to upload more images and sound files and videos and text and support materials and all sorts of things 🙂
I look forward to being able to share more of my progress with you all!
For now, this is TattleTaleTony, signing off! 😀
P.S. Here are some new motivational posters I found. Hope they can keep you all moving forward as well! Enjoy! 😀