This blog serves to give acting ideas and advice to actors of all ages, especially young ones. This blogs author is J.T. Turner, actor, director, teacher and member of AEA, SAG and AFTRA. I hope you find the posts useful, and please pass along the blog address to anyone you think might benefit from it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I lost my voice!

(From Speakeasy Stage Company's The Drowsy Chaperone, with Sarah Drake)

Recently I had a fantastic run in a musical called The Drowsy Chaperone. But as fate would have it, I suddenly found myself with hardly any voice after the first weekend of shows. I had about a day to recover, and it reminded me just how important vocal care is.

Ok first, I am not a Doctor, nor have I played one on TV. Any vocal issues should get you to a Ears-Nose and Throat doctor right away just to be safe. Sometimes a lost voice can be caused by infection, or vocal cord injury. Don't be foolish and try and bull your way through any pain.

But sometimes its just overuse and phlegm build up, or the side effect of a cold. But what to do if you lose the voice and need to be onstage pronto? Still see that doctor, but try the following formula:

1) Go on vocal rest as much as possible. no talking, especially no whispering.

2) Start your return with breathing, deep, deep breathing, right from your belly. Then gently, gently add some sound. Moaning, sighing on the exhale is a good start.

3) Steam! Use a small steam machine, take a ridiculously long hot shower, but get some moisture into your passages.

4) Water, and lots of it. Lubrication is critical to a lost voice. Room temperature is preferred, and sip as often as possible.

5) Hum. Nice gentle humming, placed in the front of your mouth around the teeth. No forcing, no trying scales, no singing Sondheim, just gentle humming to feel your resonators and get stuff gently back to work.

There are many remedys that you can buy over the counter  that people recommend to help get your voice back. Throat Coat tea is great, Thayers Slippery Elm is good, Fishermans Friend for nasal passages, as well as some sprays. But those should be used after the above process, or in conjunction with it, not just by themselves. And make sure you try them out and see how they work for you, different throats react differently. 

Oh, did I mention seeing a doctor? :)

                                            J.T. Turner
                                     The Actor's Sensei

Friday, June 3, 2011

Give me a status!

On stage, as in life, everyone has a status. Status is our position relative to other people.A place in the pecking order or hierarchy if you will. If an actor knows his status on stage at any given moment, it can go a long way to help with character development.

Now some status' are easily seen. The King is of high status talking to a peasant. Ahh, but what if the King is in hiding and desperately needs food? Now there is a shift of power, and the peasant suddenly has more status than the King. The Football star has high status, but if he is failing Geometry suddenly his geeky tutor may take on great status.

Status is fluid, and in many plays, the status of a character shifts during the show. Someone of low status at the start of the show may take power or get power and suddenly the status rises, causing the status of those around them to fall. Having that knowledge of where you rank to the other characters around you, makes a huge impact on delivery and attitude when delivering lines.

When working in a script, jot down where you are in relation to others on stage with you in a scene, and mark where you see and change in status.

J.T. Turner
The Actors Sensei
Private and group lessons for all ages in Acting and Speech