When an actor decides to use their voice to present a script or play, there are a number of aspects he or she needs to keep in mind, such as intonation, articulation, timbre, and volume among others.
Once voice aspects are overlooked, the conversation transforms into a monotone. When monotone creeps in, it swallows the readers making them uninterested in the message or a reader. Of course, no actor wants a dormant or bored audience.
What then should a presenter keep in mind when acting or reading?
Serumuga Kalundi, a celebrated Ugandan journalist, filmmaker and cultural activist observed that a reader needs to deliver a message accurately. According to Kalundi, who was speaking at a reading workshop for ‘The most wretched of the earth’, an actor should own the text they are reading and take it as their experiences, incorporating correct emotions.
Research is critical when it comes to delivering a rich message. “Get to know the background of what you are talking about,” he said adding that “it will enrich the way in which you deliver the message.”
The question on the minds of most actors is whether an actor should deliver the audience’s meaning or the writer’s. He clarified that an actor has to remain “faithful to the writer’s meaning.”
He laid emphasis on the actor’s need to have good diction, maintain a good cadence, and identify how words in a sentence or phrase are relating with each other.
“A good reader should be able to read ahead of what they speak,” Kalundi explained. This, according to him, enables a reader to connect words and phrases for a better delivery. Moreover, it means the listeners do not have to notice or get distracted by little things such as a pause when turning to the next page.
Common mistakes many presenters/readers make
Overall, lack or inadequate preparation which Kalundi terms as being “unfamiliar with the script” contributes to poor delivery. Additionally, readers should avoid reading word by word, but instead; identify how the words relate and the meaning they hold.
“Reading is a performance!” he said. “Read to be heard clearly. Use volume, pace and rhythm well.”
To avoid the mistakes, Kalundi advised the participants to prepare by “commanding and taking control of their voices even before starting off.”
He noted that breathing techniques while reading keeps the reader’s mind clear, helps one to keep a good pace and project the voice properly.
To your listeners, your voice is part of what the story is all about. It is who you are and what you believe and consequently, what they will believe. Read as if you were narrating your experience(s).