Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Do accurate accents matter in theatre?

Zoe Strimpel took British actors to task for bad American accents in the Times of London last week. I empathise with her on the Guardian's arts blog today, but also point out that sometimes the wrong accent is the right choice for a play:
Last year, the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton revived a long-forgotten play by JB Priestley called The Glass Cage, which is set in Toronto in 1906. In his review, Michael Billington wrote that cast member Robin Bowerman "displays the most flawless Canadian accent I have heard from an English actor".

Many of the play's characters, however, had they actually lived in Toronto in 1906, would have been first- or second-generation immigrants and had residual Scottish or Irish accents. In the Northampton production, however, they spoke in an approximation of a modern central Canadian accent. "Sometimes for the sake of clarity, you have to make choices that aren't necessarily the most authentic choices," the director Laurie Sansom told me at the time. "You have to try to create a world that makes sense to the audience."
Read the rest here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That remark about the audience ia a bit condescending. Can they not wrap their minds around the truth?

If a play is essentially realistic, then realism should be the goal. The truth is vastly more interesting.