Many drama and theatre teachers ask me “Do my students need to have an accent for their performances (in-class or exams)? My answer is usually no, but if they are going to employ a regional accent of some sort, it must be good or the accent is not worth employing. In short: do an accent properly or not at all.
I am no accent expert, but in my 20+ years of teaching drama, I am always pleasantly surprised of my students ability to mimic an accent for the purposes of a group devised ensemble performance, school production or solo performance. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and if the motivation is there, students of all ages can fairly easily grasp many popular accents with some serious practice.
My senior students regularly employ accents for their performance work. In recent years I’ve had Russian, eastern European, southern American, various British accents and even Jamaican to name a few. Today’s generation will tell you YouTube is the best resource as no matter what accent you are after, someone has posted a video explaining how to say words and phrases for it.
Alternatively, I usually prescribe my favourite academic resource Accents: A Manual For Actors by Robert Blumenfeld. The best part about this book is not the text, but the two CDs that come in the slip of the back cover. Each CD contains dozens of recordings for regional accents from all corners of the globe, with Blumenfeld speaking sentences and phrases for each accent. There’s usually just enough on the CD of each accent for students to understand the basics, but for a more detailed approach the book itself covers how to master each accent, referring to the CD content for practice. From here, YouTube can accompany the student in their quest to master the required accent for their performance.
But be warned, this book is not everyone’s cup of tea. Everyone has an accent to begin with and Blumenfeld is American. While the CD recordings cover many accents, purists may argue Blumenfeld has not mastered them all.
Purchasing Details: Accents: A Manual For Actors by Robert Blumenfeld