Accents and Analysis

 
In a nutshell, my accent coaching could be termed ACCENT INTEGRATION. Because ACTING + ACCENT = AN INTEGRATED PERFORMANCE.

How do my clients achieve this?  By teaching them a few, easy-to-grasp techniques that I’ve developed, I help the actor reach a consistently accurate performance, wherein the new accent is deeply embedded within the actor’s real voice (so it does not come across as a caricature of an accent with a fake voice).

I also ask the actor to speak in the new accent throughout the session, so that they receive maximum exposure to the training – whether chatting off the top of their heads, or working through text, we are working away to get it right. In the end, the accent remains flawless throughout the audition or performance, even when a case of the jitters or strong emotions threaten to detach the accent from the acting.

Here’s how I got started coaching:

In 2003, I began coaching in London, sort of by accident.  My non-American friends and colleagues wanted to improve their American accents for auditions and performances, and I wanted to help them do it! I had lived in many different States growing up, and my non-American students appreciated me demonstrating the accents.

A working actress and opera singer since 1993 meant that I could assist from my point of view as a performer, as opposed to an academic. I found that, having performed in foreign languages and dialects, I wasn’t teaching an intellectual “science of making new sounds”, but from my own experience.

And after many years living in London, I knew first-hand the challenges non-Americans faced when approaching American accents – especially the General American Accent.  While the General American Accent seems to be the most challenging to non-Americans, it remains the most useful to pull out for last-minute auditions and cold readings.  So I am well-acquainted with the notorious sounds and phrasings that are most tricky for non-Americans, and I am able to produce great results quickly.

Accent coaching blossomed into sharing the Text Analysis I had learned at “The Practical Aesthetics Workshop” with The Atlantic Theatre Company, which sits at the core of my technique.  I came to feel that, when coaching an accent, it didn’t feel right to ruthlessly divide the accent from the acting: I wanted actors to create an integrated performance.  Yet the British, Australian and European actors I was working with hadn’t heard of the Text Analysis System.  And without really knowing it, some stealth acting coaching began to run alongside the accent coaching.  No one seemed to mind.  They felt confidently prepared in all areas when they walked out of the session.

For my own acting, I spent two years exploring Meisner Technique, and so I began to incorporate a heart-filled, emotional point of view into the heady Text Analysis mix…and voilà!  I had a comprehensive Text Analysis System to share, which produces in-depth character study and scene mastery that is totally playable, not intellectualised.  What’s great is that it applies to anything you are working on – period pieces or modern genres; musicals or straight acting; theatre, tv and film; commercials – you name it, you’re covered.  Now that’s a technique you can always rely on.

As I started sharing this new discovery, word got out that I taught actors acting in their native accents, too. So I tailor my coaching to whatever the actor needs that day – Text Analysis for audition and role preparation, as well as American Accent Coaching for those who need it.

Since relocating back to America in 2011, I have been asked to work with non-Brits, adults and children alike, on British, French, German, Spanish and Italian Accents. And I was thrilled to be cast in Oscar Wilde’s AN IDEAL HUSBAND, playing Lady Chiltern – an Aristocratic English role I would {probably} never have been asked to play back in England. So, it feels as if I’ve come full circle: I continue honing my own craft, to help others hone theirs.

I look forward to seeing you soon!

Gaby Santinelli Accent Coach

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