The Actors' Voice - Expressing Truthfully. Power Connection Acting Exercises for Vocal Flexibility
This e-class, copyright, by N J Howell
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This is the acting exercise section of acting lesson number 3, of the Power Connection Online Acting Class. If you have reached this page directly, from a search engine search of link, you will need to visit the acting lessons on improvisation first. Here, we are going to play with vocal choices and explore the significance of the actor's voice in a performance.
There is a quality to the voice when it is speaking truth; there is another quality when the voice is lying or pretending. Unless the character you are portraying is supposed to be lying or pretending, you'd better know how to summon reality into your words on stage or in front of the camera. Otherwise, you will quickly lose the audience. Let's do some vocal exercises now! I'll ask you to do the same exercise three different ways, each building on the other.
ACTING EXERCISE 1: VOCAL TRAINING OBSERVATION
In the same way you paid attention to any restriction of movement in the physical acting exercises in lesson two, you will now notice any difficulty in expressing verbally. Begin as before, by choosing a time when you will be undisturbed and putting yourself in a relaxed state.
Warm up by using your voice, making sounds but no words, using the tempos suggested below. by the way, this type of vocal workout is good for scenes involving incoherent speech that doesn't sound like an actor trying to talk gibberish. The sort of vocal flexibility this type of exercise may help an actor develop is what enabled Steve Carrell, as Evan Baxter in the film Bruce Almighty, to create one of the most funny scenes I've ever seen in my entire life.
You know the scene, in Bruce Almighty .... where Steve is live on the air, announcing the news, so proud of just being named co-anchor. Just as Baxter is basking in his own glory, Bruce Almighty takes over Evan Baxter's vocal cords and makes Evan start saying all this garbled gibberish. Steve Carell did a brillant job with this, and created what I consider a classic comic masterpiece scene. Hilarious. While Steve may have made it look easy in Bruce Almighty, I assure you that verbal flexibility and improv of that sort is not easy at all for most people.
Warm up Tempos:
* Fast to slow tempo
* Slow to fast tempo
* High to low notes
* Low to high notes
* Loud to soft sound
* Soft to loud sound
* Repeat sound in short bursts
* Repeat sound, held as long as breath permits
* Spontaneous sound - whatever comes out.
Because we are such a verbal, mentally oriented society, this exercise may be surprisingly challenging for some of you. If you find you simply can't just make any old sound that comes out, which is what we're aiming for here, then pick a word like "puh" or "luh" or "gru" and do the exercise above.
ACTING EXERCISE 2: VOCAL WORKOUT FOR EMOTION
Returning to the list of words in the physical exercise of the same name, detaching from any need to form verbal patterns in the mind, and allow your voice to tell you how that emotion or state sounds. Start by making sound only, to represent each word. It could be a moan, a scream, an almost silent sigh, etc. Then, actually say each word, feeling it on your tongue and lips, allowing the concept represented in the letters to be interpreted vocally.
Anger, loneliness, fear, joy, excitement, tenderness, pain, sorrow, disbelief, confusion, stress, importance, ignorance, love, etc.
If you wanta take this a step further, pick a sentence that is the total opposite of what you are feeling and express it. A great deal of comedy comes from saying one thing and meaning another. A lot of great drama is the same. If you are in love with someone and they tell you they are marrying someone else (a common theme), if you really love them, you may try to act happy for them. You may say good things. And ..... your body and voice will betray the truth.
ACTING EXERCISE 3: COMBINING PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL
Go through the list again, combining a spontaneous physical reaction to whatever comes out verbally. Do not attach to anything previously expressed in these exercises because, the more you do this work, the more original and powerful will be the expressions. That is the beauty of your make-up! You have an inexhaustible well of originality that will continually refresh and replenish your work, provided you avoid accepting the last interpretation as the best.
Some benefit from writing down observations and notes after doing vocal workouts such as this one. If you journal, it's a great way to document your progression with the actor's voice. To evaluate what you've learned from lesson three, journal about which emotional states were difficult for you and which ones were easy to get in touch with emotionally? Ask yourself why some were easier than others.
Did you notice that your body did anything when you were doing the exercises? Did your arms or hands move or express in a certain way that would indicate an emotional response from the body? If so, do the exercise again attempting to strengthen whatever reaction the voice was giving way to in the body response.
Continue with the class.......Acting Lesson Four - The Actor's Emotions