How I created my first person interpretation

I'm not saying this is what YOU must do in order to create your first person interpretation... it's simply what I have done to get where I am.

I haven't always been the Doctor you know... when I started down this road I was the Schoolmaster. I couldn't hunt, fish, carpenter, blacksmith, shoot, soldier, farm, sew or birth babies... which made me worse than useless on the frontier. Schoolmaster seemed like a natural fit at the time.

I was giving a tour at Mansker's Station to two nice women from Scotland. They were very into me being in first person, and were playing along nicely... when they asked the question that really set me on this course...

"Where are you from?" They asked in their thick Scottish accents.

"Well," I replied in my normal southern accent, "I'm from England."

"You don't sound like you're from England." they smiled.

And they were absolutely correct, I DIDN'T sound like I was from England at all.

On my way home that afternoon, I began to toy with an English accent, which, thanks to my mother and her acting ability, wasn't too terribly difficult. She had coached me in high school when I was in a play in which I had to use and accent for my character. I was dreadful as an actor, having to remember lines that didn't mean anything to me... well that's a story for another time... where was I? Oh yes-

On top of that, I like to watch alot of BBC programs, so I've heard it plenty. So I began speaking aloud in the car while I drove, in my English accent. I talked to other motorists, I talked to myself, I repeated lines from my favorite BBC programs, I repeated parts of the Mansker's tour I usually gave... all in the accent. I did this for about three weeks. Lots of alone time on the morning and afternoon drives and no cell phone!

Then I started getting brave, and began using it on the phone to tele-marketers, and while ordering things at the drive-thru window... you know, on complete strangers... just for the practice.

Then came the day that I felt brave enough to actually use it on the public during tours. What a strange and glorious feeling! I discovered things about using the accent, like that I could say virtually ANYTHING to the public and they found it fascinating...

My early 'Schoolmaster' interpretation turned into 18th century baby-sitting, so my attentions turned toward the fellow who was at that time the fort Doctor. He was portraying Doctor Thomas Walker. I would act as his surgeon's mate when he did his faux surgeries, and I was instantly inthralled with it.

As is oft wont to happen, our Dr. Walker was insulted and treated shabbily and left the 18th century for more the pleasant environs of WWII, and sold his medical gear to the site. No one really knew much about the instruments besides me, so I was approached about becoming the new fort Doctor.

After a little additional research and reading, I took it on with great gusto!

I read alot of period books, and watched alot of historical TV shows and movies from which I have managed to pick up a manner of speech that the public takes as correct for someone of the period. My motto for 18th century speech is, "Why say it in four or five words when you can stretch it out into two or three sentences?"

Give some thought as to where your character came from. Ask yourself, what is my country and town of origin? What do people from there sound like? How long have I been in the colonies and how would that effect my accent?

And most of all, once you arrive at an accent, study it on audio and video, copy it, practice it, and then practice it some more! Your goal ought to be to make it sound as authentic as you can make it...

Now, go practice, and I'll post more later! be continued

1 comment:

Ninon said...

Sounds wonderful! I really enjoyed reading this.