Tomorrow the proposal for my Honours project is due, so over the last week I have been consolidating what I had written into a increasingly compact and succinct proposal format.
My initial Honours Proposal can be viewed here:
Antonio 2016 honours proposal
Here is my project summary that is included in that proposal at this point in my editing process:
‘The accent and the Aussie’: an inquiry into the relevant use of accents in modern Australian theatrical performance.
“Everyone has an accent. It’s not possible to speak without one.”
(David Crystal, 2016)
Whether an actor likes it or not, they will always have an accent. Some actors are capable of covering their own accent with a different one; and there are various techniques and methods that can teach them to do so. But in what contexts, should we purposely imply accents into performance? What approaches sound the most authentic to an audience?
I’ve been fascinated by accents and voice manipulation since my teenage years and the theatrical contexts in which there are implemented is also an interesting point of study to me. My project will toy with the notion of relevant accent use, by working with a small team of actors, producing short bodies of theatrical work that focus on the audience’s reaction to them. These experimental works will hopefully uncover some interesting findings pertaining to the Australian stance on naturalistic accent usage in theatrical performance.
For my experimental works, one of the texts that I’ll toy with is a text by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s works are famous world-wide, and although his vast array of works aren’t directly native to Australia in a modern context; many modern cultures around the world (including ours) are descendants from English/European colonies from times passed. Thereby Shakespeare’s works are a unifiable text to investigate in Australia, as well as in the remainder of the modern world – at a later stage in my investigations.
I’ve also listed in my proposal some of the key practitioners that will be influences for my project. Most of them are previously mentioned in previous blog posts, but here is my succinct list:
Paul Meier – British Accents/Dialects Coach – writer of Accents and Dialects for Stage and Screen (which features 24 accents and 12 CDs of voice recordings, that teach the accents in a deep, thorough, easy-to-learn approach)
Robert Blumenfeld – American Accents/Dialects Coach – writer of Accents: A manual for Actors (which features approx. 52 accents that can be learnt in the book and associated sound recordings)
David Crystal – English linguist/OP expert
Ben Crystal – English Actor, Director, OP expert
Jennifer White – Australian Accents/Dialects Coach
Some of the other practitioners that will still be influences in my project, but just didn’t make it into the text of my Honours Proposal, are:
Agata Gluszek – social psychologist who studies human accents and their implications
Claudette Roche – American accents/dialects coach voted in the Top 5 Hollywood voice coaches
Joel Goldes – American accents/dialects coach who works a lot with film/TV coaching, as well as with theatre coaching.
Jacqueline Martin – Swedish Voice and Drama Teacher
Nan Withers-Wilson – American vocal director who engages with both regional theatre and Off-Broadway theatre.
Carmen Lysiak – Australian Accents/Dialects Coach
Victoria Mielewska – Australian Voice and Dialects Coach
Some of the many books that will be textual references for my project include (but are not limited to):
Paul Meier – Accents and Dialects for Stage and Screen
Robert Blumenfeld – Accents: A Manual for Actors
Nan Withers-Wilson – Vocal Direction for the Theatre
Jacqueline Martin – Voice in Modern Theatre
Patsy Rodenburg – The Actor Speaks
Kristin Linklater – Freeing the Natural Voice
David & Ben Crystal – Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary
– You Say Potato: A book about Accents
– Shakespeare’s Words: A glossary & language companion
– The Shakespeare Miscellany
David Crystal – The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation
– ‘Think on my words’: Exploring Shakespeare’s Language
Ben Crystal – Shakespeare on Toast
Here are some quotes from actors and comedians about accents, that I found on the internet;
“The tricky thing becomes: Do you know yourself well enough to then portray that on screen? And for me, I find that really hard. I’d rather hide behind accents and funny walks.”
~ Joel Edgerton – Australian Actor
“Accents can be a great tool to tell a story – but if you do it wrong, it pulls you right out of the movie.”
~Jeremy Renner – American Actor
“When I first started out, being from the South and going to New York or Chicago, people kept telling me to get voice lessons and ‘lose that stupid accent you got.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, where I come from, you have the stupid accent.’”
~ Jeff Foxworthy – American Comedian
“I often find during a day of shooting I will speak in an American accent all day long when I’m doing dialogue. At the end of the day, it often takes an effort when I’m talking to my fiancee to bring my English back just because you’re so used to speaking that way.”
~ Henry Cavil – British Actor
“I think Shakespeare is like a dialect. If I heard a broad Scots accent, I’d probably struggle at first but then I’d start to look for words I recognise and I’d get the gist. I think Shakespeare is like that.”
~ Ralph Fiennes – British Actor
“I love accents; I would love to find more characters with a variety of vocal intonations. It creates a character. It’s like you’re singing a song. Some people find their character through walking or movement – for me, voice is one of the ways I find parts of the character.”
~Stana Katic – Canadian Actress
“Trouble is, some accents lend themselves to comedy.”
~ Martin Freeman – British Actor
“Something I realized when I moved to America: people get these general American accents, but when they get angry or upset or excited, their original accents come out. It’s something I noticed with my manager, because he’s from New York, and the first time he got angry, he suddenly had this accent.”
~ Margot Robbie – Australian Actress
“My whole deal when I do accents or dialects is I gotta fool the locals. If I fool the locals then I’ve done my job.”
~ Brion James – American Actor
“People have asked me why are Australians and Brits so good at American accents, and it’s quite simple. We grew up listening to the American sound on our TV. That’s why American actors have a hard time with foreign accents.”
~ Dominic Purcell – Australian Actor
“I love accents – I wish I could find an accent for every one of my characters. It makes it so much easier when I don’t have to hear my own voice.”
~ Amy Adams – American Actor
These quotes all give little inspirations into subjects I could talk about and address in future project research.
Hopefully these elements can start to give insight into where I am coming from – in terms of my project. Certainly reading books and articles have broadened my knowledge and I look forward to investigating this interesting topic in further depth in the near future.