Monday, September 20, 2010

My Life with a Dialect Coach

Dialect coaches speak a different language. It's all about phonetics, plosives, fricatives and that sly schwa sound. And they expect that you know what they mean!

I first met Obscura's dialect coach, Jason Miller, in a coffee shop. The Obscura script states Ms. Craw is 'foreign' so it was up to us to figure the rest out. We narrowed the character down to eastern European-mostly because the language and syntax made it seem the right choice. Serbian? German? Polish? Russian? It didn't matter; Jason was prepared to show me how proper use of pitch, rhythm, consonant and vowel placement (that ubiquitous schwa, again) can make any accent fluent and authentic.

Jason turned the coffee shop into a performance piece; he stood there breathing and intoning, gesturing and projecting while folks refilled their cups and ordered doughnuts all around him. It was thrilling - all 2 and 1/2 hours, for me certainly and I think for the coffee drinkers too. Working with a dialect coach is a bit like seeing a therapist: they make you honest; they give you homework, and you always leave feeling better.

Come see Obscura and decide for yourself where Ms. Craw comes from. Thanks, Jason.

Lona Livingston
Ensemble Member

Obscura runs Sep 23-Oct 23.
Tickets are available through our website!

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