Monday, 22 September 2014

Speaking with Respect for the Writer

I've been thinking a lot about words. Not just the ones I speak into the microphone, but you know, the ones actually written on paper (or more often that not on the screen these days.) My summer was bonkers-ly busy with narration, holidays and time spent with my three kids. In addition, the results of a long labour of theatre-love came to fruition, when I performed in production of Paper Dolls that  I co-devised and co-wrote at Camden Fringe Festival this year and gained FIVE STAR reviews!

Scriptwriting, together with my ongoing blog, made me stop and think about all those Voice scripts that land in my inbox for me to put a voice too. Often I am so focused on getting the words right in terms of production (finding the nuances, rhythm, clarity, pitch, pace, intonation and characterisation), that I forget to pay homage to the person who wrote the words in the first place.

Every script is someone's creation. Every script, from an epic novel to a Radio Commercial to  even those less-exciting telephone system Voicemail recordings,  has come into being through a writer. And every writer has considered for whom they are writing, and perhaps most importantly why.

So if the writer has thought about who they want to appeal to, it follows that as the Voice of the piece has to also. How often do you reel off a script without thinking about for the message is intended? Well, it's time to put a stop to that! What is the purpose behind the script you are reading? Suss that out first and foremost and your work will improve dramatically. The purpose and intention of the script is so fundamental to every recording, and indeed every audition demo, that you can't afford to overlook it.

Likewise, the writer will have used specific words, phrasing and even grammar for a reason. And if they wrote it, don't be tempted to suggest you know better (even if you do!). The client is always (well, mostly) right. If you are working in a studio or via ISDN with a client present, it is imperative that you do not offend or comment on the quality of the writing. It is somebody else's baby. If you absolutely must comment on the sense of a sentence, make sure you do so respectfully and sensitively, or you may find that you aren't asked back for a repeat performance. This can be tricky, especially when it is obvious that whoever wrote the piece may not have English as a first language, but with tact you can usually work out if it is appropriate or not to offer feedback.

No matter what the script, it is our job to flesh out what is on the page, exactly as it is.  So bite your tongue, until you need to speak the text!