Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dialects for Actors.

Today was the culmination of all our hard work in Dialects for Actors, in which we presented our scenes and monologues to a small audience at the Curtain Theatre.

The Curtain Theater

I should have been a nervous wreck, since I had never had to perform memorised lines on stage before, ever. I was far more nervous the first time I had to give a presentation at a professional meeting, to the extent that I leaned over and said to the person next to me, whom I did not even know, “I can’t do this”, and then got up and coolly gave my talk. That was years ago and since then I’ve given more public lectures than I can count, to hundreds of people at a time. Not memorised ones, but at least I’m not a stranger to public speaking. For Dialects, we had done a dress rehearsal on Tuesday and we knew in detail what we were supposed to do. I had seen a few costume glitches that I had time to correct and had thought of some new angles for my performance in Scottish dialect as Miss Jean Brodie that I felt would enhance it, and fortunately my professor approved this. I had been over my lines so many times that I couldn’t get them wrong, so that left only room for “productive butterflies”, the kind of nervousness that helps the performance rather than hindering it. My Cockney monologue as Nancy from Oliver Twist (see below for the text) was the first performance on the program and it went off without a hitch.

Nancy – Oliver Twist

Unfortunately I couldn’t watch my fellow students but I could hear them from backstage and they were all brilliant. I kept thinking how glorious it must be to be starting a career in acting at a young age. When people ask me why I went into voice-over I always say, “because I love acting but don’t like to be seen”. This experience, even though it was not a full-fledged production, made me start to think that maybe I don’t actually mind it that much after all.

Miss Jean Brodie

Of course the main thing is that I am now a Certified Dialect Specialist and voiceover dialects expert. Okay, that’s a complete fib. But I have the resources, or know where to find them, for most of the dialect work that is likely to come my way, and that is a very satisfactory thing indeed.

Note: Many people search Google for "nancy monologue oliver twist" and find this blog post. I'm not sure what you're looking for, but in case you need a script I'm posting the text of the monologue I used, which I got straight from Oliver Twist; you can read it here. I edited the text to shorten it in the interest of time, and that modified version is here. If it's a listen you're after, you can find that here (if I were to do it over, I'd make sure all the th's were more "f-ish").



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