View Full Version : Improv and Voice Acting
03-21-2009, 02:41 AM
How are things with you? I hope all is well and your One Man shows are selling out like crazy.
I heard you mention the importance of Improv in Voice Acting in the Tracy Pattin Roundtable at Voicebank.net and I can fully see how this can help. For the past few months I've been working with an acting coach who studied with Stella Adler and he has been talking me through the use of Prepared Improvisations with regards to scene study which has really opened my eyes with regards to how to approach interpreting copy. Also, a couple of weeks back I attended another Improv class which was basically a bunch of games based on what you would see on the TV show "Who's Line is it Anyways?". Although I did have a fairly good time doing the skits, I just did not feel they would offer me much in the long run. So, I was wondering what type of Improv you enjoy performing and what you feel would benefit a Voice Actor the most? I would really like to hear, or rather read, your take on this.
Thanks in advance.
03-21-2009, 09:16 AM
Actually, I feel all types of improv would benefit a voice actor. Most improv classes teach various improv games and exercises. What improv does is teach a performer to get out of their head. The cannot deny. They have to commit to choices immediately without wavering or doubting.
I find one of the biggest mistakes a brilliant voice actor often makes is, they try to please the buyer rather than them self. They go into an audition trying to give what they think the buyer wants. They don't commit to their choices for fear of being wrong. They over think. They are in their head.
With solid improv training, a voice actor will commit to their choices, but also be available to on the spot direction. The improv games you took part in will only enhance your improv skills. A few classes may not be enough for the advantages and skills to reflect in your VO work. But keep it up!!! I tell my students, whether your thing is VO, Shakespeare, or soap operas, improv is the best training you will ever do!
FYI-if you live in or near LA, my buddy Ed Greenberg has a great improv class for VO actors! As does Kalmenson and Kalmenson. Of course, there is always Improv Olympics, Groundlings, Acme, etc. All great!!!!!!!
One piece of advice when it comes to improv classes. If you attend a class that just doesn't feel comfortable, check out another. Even in the same school! I'm not referring to your comfort level with the skills of improv. Improv is, and should be scary! It should be a challenge. I'm referring to your teacher, your fellow students, etc. Not every teacher is right for everyone. Many times the dynamics of the class isn't great. You'll find uber competitive fellow students, politics within the company, unnecessary backstage drama, etc. Give it a chance, but follow your gut!!! Again, don't confuse this with the challenge of improv. But if one class isn't right for you, there are oodles of others.
03-21-2009, 11:48 AM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Yeah, what struck me with the one Improv group with the games was that it was more of a competition to see who can be the funniest rather than really feeling the scene and working off of the others. It was a cool experience and I may go back now and again, but it just wasn't my bag at the time. The one thing that seems to be plenty of around here in Sacramento are Improv classes and groups. I will certainly take up your suggestion and see what the others have to offer. The acting coach I work with I see once a week which has been a big help to me with opening my eyes to new ways to explore a part. I wish I had done it sooner.
You know, after listening to the other Tracy Pattin podcasts, the whole " they try to please the buyer rather than them self" with regards to VO talent seems to pop up over and over again. It seems like once the talent had figured this out and found how to get out of their own way, the whole business of interpreting copy became like a breeze and they started to book more gigs. I like what you mentioned in the Roundtable how you discovered this at something like 9 in the morning one day and that afterward you wanted more copy to read. This is certainly something that I am working on which is the whole reason I started to work with an acting coach and sought out improv classes and workout groups. Besides, and it has been mentioned time again, “what is Voice Overs but Voice Acting” with an emphasis on the Acting aspect. I certainly approach my reads much differently now, in that I don't try to perform the copy, I try to live and feel what is happening in that short period of time. Like what Joyce said, “Think less, and feel more.” Man, that was probably the best piece of advice I have heard with regards to putting yourself into the read.
Dude, I could spend all day picking your brain, but I think that would be unfair to you. I wish I were in SolCal again and I would check out what they have to offer down there. Maybe I can shoot down there for a weekend class one day when things get better economically. Until then, I'll just exhaust all of the resource that NorCal has to offer.
Thanks again for being so cool and sharing your knowledge. It is certainly greatly appreciated by me.
03-21-2009, 11:56 AM
My pleasure, Jon!
FYI-I don't do any weekend classes here in LA, just my 8 week workshops. But I do teach the occasional weekend workshop up north at either Voicetrax in Sausalito or VOne in San Francisco. I taught at VOne last weekend. I've never taught in Sacramento, but if you are interested and know a group who'd like a weekend animation workshop, contact my workshop producer Marian at email@example.com
03-21-2009, 01:54 PM
Coolio Bob. I've spoke with the folks at Voicetrax before and they basically required me to talk another workshop through them before I could get into yours. I was not aware that you taught at VOne as well so I'll certainly have to look into that.
But, if I can't get to where you are teaching, maybe I could work on getting you to Sacto. It's tough to get folks of your caliber here , as Julie knows personally, so it may take some creativity to do so. The studio I was working with for VO workshops and our once a month VO Buddy Nite gave in to the down turn in the economy and closed its doors, but there are a few other really nice studios lcoally that I may be able to work with. Sounds like a great project.
I'll work with Marian to see what we can pull together.
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