Thursday, 9 December 2010

Accents for Actors. It's Russian Roulette!

The rehearsal and filming dates are looming for a short film that I am acting in. It's all happening next week. It's a short comedy sketch and my part is a Russian character for which I am required to speak in an accent that can pass as Russian! It's quite a challenge and would normally depend on whether my performing accent wants to work on any given day or let me down!

Sometimes I can launch into a Dublin or general American accent without much of a problem. It all just comes out and flows naturally and, I've been told, very convincingly. "You sound like a native speaker. Are you sure you're not Irish/ American/ Bosnian/ Nigerian etc ... !?" I've been asked when speaking in such tongues. "No, I assure you I am a Londoner!" I reply. But on other occasions I can't do the accent for love nor money nor a three course meal in a Jamie Oliver restaurant. Not even if my acting life, or life in general, depended on it.

So this is a part that I initially approached with some trepidation. A Russian accent is one that I've never attempted. Ever. This would be a first. Part of my preparation was to seek out audio samples or video clips with dialogue in a Russian accent. I found a few bits on YouTube but it wasn't enough. And it didn't help that much. Did some research online into Russian phonetics which helped a bit. In the end I decided to seek the help of my dialect coach so with script in hand went to see her.

Marina
was great. We went through the script and she recorded all my dialogue on my phone for me! I've been able to play this back, listen to it and practice it hundreds of times. I think I've got my lines to sound more or less Russian! It's now a case of whether it'll all come out ok next week or whether I end up sounding Indian.

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