Just a day or two ago I was asked by a student if there was an exercise or two he could do to really quickly prep himself to take on an accent or dialect (he already knows) just before an audition (or take). I figured I write a quick blog post to that effect on the off chance that he's not the only one with that question.
Exercise 1: Posture Phrase
This may sound at first like it has nothing to do with an accent at all, but let me assure you that it's VERY important. Now I'm not talking about posture in the sense that you need to "Stand up Straight!" or anything like that (though you may find that a dialect changes that too!). I'm talking about ORAL POSTURE.
In the same way that your body has a posture that affects how it walks, talks, and sounds, your vocal tract (mouth, larynx, tongue, lips, etc.) has a posture that affects how the sounds (read: accent) comes out. In fact, Oral Posture is maybe the single biggest factor of getting a dialect right in a lot of cases. So here's what you do...
- Find the Differences between your own native/natural Oral Posture and your Target Dialect's
- Find a catch phrase either from your lines, or something you've heard, or ANYTHING that you can say in that target dialect that typifies that oral posture
- Use that phrase to immediately shift into the new Oral Posture and
- Lather, Rince, Repeat!
This is one of the quickest ways I know to adopt a foreign Oral Posture. Ask your Dialect Coach for help identifying the Oral Posture differences and in finding or creating your helper phrase!
You'll be glad you did this exercise, especially right before an audition that you're running late for, or after a long break on set!
Anyway... Those are my thoughts!