Working with an accent or dialect adds a tough layer of complexity to a performance. How does an actor balance changing the way they speak while still maintaining their performance? Sounds are important, but so is getting comfortable enough with those sounds that your natural instincts still shine through.
Here are some fun examples of sound changes:
In the North of England – places like Manchester, Liverpool, and Yorkshire – words with the vowel heard in Canadian’s “strut” (like “hut, hum, dug, run,” etc) sound like how a Canadian would say “foot.”
Just 200 miles away in London, some of the dialects of that city replace the consonant /th/ (like in thought, thorough, thing, etc) with an /f/ sound.
No production is exactly the same when it comes to accent or dialect work. Whether you’re looking for casting assistance, actor preparation work, on-set coaching, in rehearsal notes, group sessions, or just dialect consulting ahead of a production, note that the more time actors have to work on an accent or dialect, the better they will be. For a better idea of what you need, contact me directly.
Got a self-tape due in 2 days and need an accent? Casting is pretty good about giving an extra day if there are accents involved, but not always. Depending on your skill level, we may start with the basic sound changes using exercises, or we may jump right into the audition material and identify the sounds that need work. You’ll leave with audio samples, exercises for home practise, and a better audition!
Some shows invent accents and dialects. This is Cara Gee playing Drummer in The Expanse. The dialect was put together by Eric Armstrong, and I was the dialect coach in Season 4! It’s a blend of accents from around the planet, using sounds from Nick Farmer’s Belter language he invented, using hints from the books.
The International Dialects of English Archive has compiled over 1200 different audio samples from people around the world. Most samples include the subjects reading the same speech, so you can compare their accents.