Years ago all you heard on the cinema screen, television and theatre was a strange clipped posh voice which didn’t really resemble anyone on the streets. Actors would go to drama school with their regional accent and have it stripped away and leave with a clipped RP (received pronunciation). Nowadays accents are celebrated and visit a drama school and you will hear a rich mix of accents.
Casting directors will need to cast characters with accents and in all likelihood they will actually nowadays be able to find an actor who is trained, has experience and is native in that accent – but not always. Sometimes you will be called upon to audition in an accent and you might not have a long time to prepare.
When I’m doing an accent, you shouldn’t notice it for a while, if I’m doing it right.
With any drama school training you will have learnt all about the anatomy of the voice, you will know how sound is made and in which part of the body the resonating is happening. All of this knowledge could help you to reproduce an accent using a technical approach.
For example some accents should be placed at the front of the mouth or far back, maybe the jaw doesn’t move with certain accents or others have wide open jaws.
Tips for Learning an Accent
Dialects in some way mirror the surrounding landscape. Therefore, Geordie is up and down, Norfolk’s flat. It’s a lovely image that some people may find useful.
A tour of the British Isles in accents
A dialect coach, Andrew Jack, gives a tour of the accents of the British Isles.