Could You Use Lockdown To Work On New Accents?

As a performer, it’s always useful to be able to produce different accents to give you a shot at a wider variety of roles and opportunities, both as an actor and providing voice over in Manchester or wherever you’re based.

Now that the UK is in lockdown, you might be wondering how you can best spend your time, with The Stage recently pointing out that it presents a golden opportunity to focus on honing different accents, or practicing entirely new ones.

When it comes to accents, it’s incredibly difficult to master them without being able to hear them to give you a form of reference. However, the publication revealed that there’s an online and free resource that you can use to help you – the International Dialects of English Archive.

It’s a free catalogue that features recorded voice samples not only from England but from around the world. There are also phonetic transcripts of some of these samples, which, as the news provider explained, means “you can use the ‘rules’ of an accent phonetically in any speech you are learning”.

The website also provides a list of popular theatre plays where you can find examples of difficult to pronounce words in a given accent. If you have some spare time at the moment, this could be the ideal way to hone a tricky new accent.

There is also a paid-for app that you can download to help you master a new accent too. The Real Accent App provides step by step breakdowns of each accent in its library, as well as the option to record and compare. Each accent costs £12.99 to download.

Meanwhile, one actor recently spoke about how he feels that producers and directors are becoming more accepting of regional accents, particularly in TV dramas.

Martin Compston, who starred in Line of Duty as a Londoner, but is in fact Scottish, said that it has been “liberating” to be able to use his own accent in his latest project, a drama produced for the BBC called The Nest.

“We’re at a point now where people are being a lot more open-minded to what we would term as ‘regional dramas’,” he stated.

Speaking about his experiences filming The Nest, he said: “It was very liberating to be on a set and not be worried about someone saying, ‘Could you just clip the T on that?’ or ‘Can you change that?’ or ‘What does that mean?’ It’s very freeing as an actor because you can just get on with it.”

iNews also pointed to his previous comments about Line of Duty, where he told the BBC that he thought the producers would have allowed his character to be Scottish if he’d asked. However, he added “but the part was written for a Londoner and it is my job to just make that happen”.

Being able to speak in various accents can open up the range of parts you’re able to audition for, and it can also give you a greater range of opportunities for other voice work, including for video games, cartoons, animated content and work in the advertising and marketing sectors.