Acting With The Voice

REVIEW by Willard Manus

The art of recording books is analyzed in Robert Blumenfeld's ACTING WITH THE VOICE, successor to the same author's best-selling Accents: A Manual For Actors, which is now in its eighth printing by Amadeus press/Limelight Editions.

Blumenfeld has been narrating audio books for 20 years and has recorded nearly 300 fiction and non-fiction titles for the American Foundation for the Blind. He is also a noted stage actor, dialect coach and has taught at both the Stella Adler and the National Shakespeare Conservatories.

"Recording books is a skill, a craft and an art," Blumenfeld writes. "And recording books professionally is work that can only be done by actors. Who but an actor, or an author who can also act, can breathe life into a text? Don't we spend our working lives creating characters, clothing them fully, and portraying them in all their psychological complexity? The same instincts, the same skills, the same mastery, are prerequisites for playing characters vocally, for acting with the voice. You bring your art, your training, your education, your mind, and your heart to your individual interpreation of a text. The chapters on general reading technique and on reading fiction, plays and poetry and nonfiction are devoted to technical skills, or how to interpret texts, and read themn aloud. And when you record a book you get to play a lot of characters. You don't even have to look the part. You will have the pleasure of playing roles for which you may be the wrong physical type, and in which as a consequence you would never be cast in a film or stage adaptation. This enjoyable experience expands your abilities and your range enormously."

ACTING WITH THE VOICE is packed with such practical advice as Getting Started in the Book Recording Business, The Voice, Diction and Punctuation, Microphone and General Recording Technique and Reading Techniques. Blumenfeld also describes how he approached--and performed--works by such writers as Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, Samuel Clemens and Thomas Hardy, to name but a few.