A year ago, I dipped a toe into improv performance. Then dove in. More on the backstory another time. My thoughts today are on voice.
The diverse group of players I practice and perform with often use a variety of accents to help define their characters. Regional, continental, whatever comes to mind.
I feel more than a little inept at accents, but have begun playing with different voice registers. In practice some weeks ago, I dragged out a deep voice, as deep as I could make it. The reaction of my scene partner was startled shock. I used it on stage recently, which elicited chuckles from the audience, and some playful behavior on the part of my scene partner.
Last night at practice, I decided to use as shrill a voice as I could muster. It brought the house down. (My throat still hurts today.)
These experiences caused me to think about “voice.” We often speak of finding our voice, and encouraging students to find their voice. Which is valid and true.
Now I’m thinking we all have many voices. Even everyday interactions support this conjecture. The way we speak to a baby is very different from how we address our colleagues. Not only in the tone we use, but also the vocabulary and formality of language structures.
All of our voices have different things to say, and provide us with opportunities to explore different facets of who we are. What remains constant is the throughline, our authentic self.