Immersion Diversion

It doesn’t happen often that I have an opportunity to audition in an accent or language other than straight-up-neutral-American. However, I was pleasantly surprised to have an almost-last-minute invitation to an audition requesting an accent I actually know and perform well.  (Unlike those auditions at which I am instructed to put-on an accent I do not know, cannot perform, and which remains unlisted on my résumé for good reason.)

The audition being almost-last-minute, immediately I got underway with preparations. It was evident which character I should prepare, so coordinating the various physical accoutrements was simple. However, it being awhile since I’d used the accent in question, I knew I needed to hit the books, as it were, hard. I began by reciting everything in sight. Bills. The label on my wood furniture polish. Magazine blurbs. Any commercial text I heard. And the instructions of the pasta recipe I made for dinner. One of the most important aspects of acting with an accent (besides producing it correctly) is making it appear effortless.  There are numerous skills we each use daily that require little or no effort because we employ them often. Speaking in a accent or language other than one’s own is not natural or usual and, like learning a foreign language, immersion within the culture and people is best. Since a speedy international flight was a bit beyond my budget and timeframe, I made do, bringing the immersive experience to my apartment through foreign media, foreign films and non-American music (and lots of talking to myself.)

With immersion my focus, I arrived at the audition completely engaged and I enjoyed every moment. “Wow”, one individual remarked, “Your accent’s really good.” I thanked him and explained that I genuinely love accents and that–once fully engrossed–the intonations, inflections and associated idiomatic mannerisms become as first nature to me, requiring little effort. In the audition, I was fortunate to be able to flex my improvisation skills, too, and I hope they left a good impression. As with all auditions, the question is begged: What was the outcome? And, as with nearly all auditions, I do not know. I’ve gone, I’ve done it and I’ve left.  I must no longer be concerned with the potential result.  (But, secretly, I’d love to work on the project and I don’t think all the casting has been finalized.)

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