Studying a Text: ideas, lines, sounds

Birkenstocks

Out of the archives. This one floated into posts read by someone today. Over three years on and I’m doing another show, but this one in my ‘own’ Australian dialect of English. ‘Colleen’ has her own, distinctive way of speaking … an ideolect … which is part of the fun of vocal characterisation for the actor.

There are probably almost as many ways of learning a script as there are actors. For me, and right now starting rehearsals for a new show it’s read, read, read the script, getting the sense of the arc of the story and my character’s role in telling it. I think it’s Anthony Hopkins who learns his lines by reading a script 100 times, and that’s it. By then, he’s immersed in the words, and works them off impulse. Well to me that’s how his relaxed natural right sounding speech seems to grow from the text.

Now the role of Cabaret’s Fraulein Schneider also requires an accent … one more thing to factor into the process of lines learning. It’s less to do with the words, and more a coming to grips with the ideas contained within or behind the words. I’m not sure where I came across the idea of words being like the flotsam and jetsam that float on the tide. They are the residue of an impulse or an energy that birthed them. Now I don’t think it’s as simple as that, and certainly I love words and the power of the crafting by the writer of those words … their sound on the ear, their butting up against one another, they playfulness with rhythm in a line … but … it’s the impulse behind the words that intrigues me initially as I chase down a character’s mindset and temperament and energy. So, it’s important for me to learn the impulse contained within words sounded in a particular way. Speech style is a function of character, and it’s not something to tack on at the last minute like a final coat of paint. Continue reading Studying a Text: ideas, lines, sounds