John Rustan, PhD
Do you have a stage or screen role, or an upcoming audition, where the character is from another country, or a specific region of the US? If so, you need to be able to speak with a different accent or dialect. The best way to do that is to get lessons from a Dialect Coach.
Private Individual Dialect Coaching*
A lesson in the chosen dialect is given. You get:
Production Dialect Coaching: Production Dialect Coaching involves working with the cast of a production on one or more dialects. Most of my production dialect coaching has been done in-person over the years. Covid-19 has put a stop to that for now. However, artistic directors, actors, directors, filmmakers and voice actors, are finding new ways to keep working at their craft while, at the same time, keeping themselves and their audiences safe.
The same must be true for Dialect Coaching.
Due to the pandemic, I have worked with all clients exclusively using video conferencing on Zoom, and it works very well. Regardless of the pandemic, there are solid reasons to take advantage of production dialect coaching via live video conference. Whether you are planning an online performance, or need dialect coaching when theaters open up again, you can save hassles by holding your cast's dialect session online.
A NOTE ABOUT VIDEO RECORDING SESSIONS: I do not video record any lessons, Zoom or in-person. This is out of respect for the privacy of my clients, and because I cannot control what happens to my client's images, my image, or my work if video recorded and distributed to others. Everyone has a right to control their image and personal information. I do encourage each individual, in either a Zoom or in-person session, to audio record segments that they think will be helpful to them going forward.
Class Workshops for High Schools and Colleges
A Word About Dialect Authenticity
Authenticity is certainly a goal for an actor learning a dialect. And yet, the first job of an actor is to be seen and heard. If an audience cannot understand what you are saying, it doesn't matter how authentic your dialect is.
A while back, a writer on the internet was bemoaning the fact that he has never heard perfectly authentic Scottish dialect in movies. The fact is, some authentic Scottish dialects can be very difficult for non-Scottish people to understand. So we strive for a dialect that is authentic sounding, yet adjusted, when necessary, so as to be understandable to the audience.
This concept is hilariously illustrated in a video of an SNL sketch with James McAvoy and Kate McKinnon as "Scottish Air Traffic Controllers".
Dear Actors: A Dialect Caution
I've never forgotten a very wise statement I heard at a conference many years ago made by voice teacher, Bonnie Raphael. She said "An audience will forgive a less- than-perfect dialect in a wonderful performance, but it doesn't work the other way." The lesson: Don't let your performance be all about dialect. Of course you learn it the best you can, but it is only one part of your performance. A good example of this issue can be found in Seth Meyer's movie trailer spoof Boston Accent.
If someone you know likes dialects and wants some instruction, you can purchase a gift certificate for one or more lessons.
You may purchase lessons over the phone using secure credit card payment through SQUARE.
You receive a receipt, and a gift certificate detailing the lesson made out in the name of the person receiving the gift lesson(s).
The receiver of the gift then calls to specify the dialect and set up an appointment.
* For individual coaching in-studio, those under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.