Hey Guys! This is a Teen Actor’s Lab art. post. about voice in acting.
The number one technical issue most actors I work with have, has to do with their voice. If you never work on your voice, you are preventing yourself from acting greatness. It’s that simple. I have met very, very few actors who don’t have lots of work to do in this area. Now, I totally get it, it’s not easy. And it is going to take some time and effort. I actually had no idea I had vocal problems until I was in my twenties and working on the extraordinary play Fool for Love by Sam Shepard and the director told me I was straining. Then, to my horror, I started to lose my voice after every rehearsal. I am so grateful I was challenging myself with demanding enough material that brought this issue into light so I could begin to tackle it.
There are many kinds of vocal problems and most actors have several of them. Here are a few of the biggies:
Annunciation. Ayaiyai! Guys, you have to get your mouth around those words. It makes me so sad to watch some of my super talented students throw huge opportunities away simply because their dialogue gets lost. The writers of plays and tv shows and movies want to hear their words! There are rumors of the great and prolific playwright Neil Simon sitting at the back of the theatre simply listening to actors’ auditions. He definitely understood that off-rhythms and poor articulation can destroy a play.
Another vocal hiccup? Being off your air. What does that mean? Well, either you haven’t taken a good breath before you speak or in many cases, you have actually exhaled before your line. This happens a lot with actors who have a habit of sighing right before their line, maybe to show their character’s frustration, but then they start their line with no air. You can’t act without air!
There’s another big thing that effects your voice: Your body. This is why in voice class so much of the work you do will be physical. Things like tension and poor alignment can have enormous effects on your voice so it’s vital you begin to do this work! Bad habits get much harder to break the older you get. Lucky you, you’re getting a head start! I highly recommend taking voice classes as well as Alexander Technique which can be wonderfully effective in helping actors free their voice.
There are many different vocal issues and bad habits, so start working on your voices now. Prevent these buggers from ever getting in your way. Doing just a little bit every day will set you light years ahead of your peers.
What can you do to get cracking right now? Here’s five fantastic resources to get you started:
1. Get this CD I adore with really fantastic vocal exercises by Adele Cabot, a certified Linklater instructor.
2. Read Patsy Rodenburg’s books like this one.
3. Read Kristin Linklater’s books like this one.
5. Do this series of vocal warm ups every day and watch the results. It’s super quick, free and awesome.