Although we have focused on audition preparation the past couple of Wednesdays, the purpose of this session was back to focusing on our voice. The aim of this session was to do some sight reading and look at how we would read it aloud to audiences. We were given ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ to look at and the first thing we noticed about the piece was that there were rhyming couplets. The danger with reading a piece aloud that has rhyming couplets is performing it in a ‘poetry voice’, where you fall into the same rhythm throughout. Therefore, our aim was to break it up and break this rhythm.
In order to break the rhythm, I learned that we have to work the piece to the meaning, once we know the meaning, it will be a lot easier to break it up and emphasise the more important words. We looked at the first section of the poem and I was working with Josh:
I started to put pauses in some of the sentences, particularly after “‘Twas the night before Christmas” and put emphasis on words such as ‘snug’ and ‘dance’. The most important thing I learned during this task was to always practice by reading it aloud, don’t annotate it as you need to hear it before deciding if it works. This proved to be helpful as I kept practicing this section aloud and knew how I was going to read it to everyone at the end. I tried to not always look at the sheet of paper and tried to use as much eye contact with everyone to keep them concentrated, which worked well. We then looked at another section further on in the poem where Father Christmas is being described where we really started looking at how we can change our voices.
After everyone had a go at reading the first section out to everyone, I was able to take different techniques out of everyone and keep them in mind, including: silences to keep audiences waiting and get them to anticipate the next section, excitement, volume changes (whispering), using our breath, character voices and gestures (especially with words that you would be unlikely to hear).
People have different opinions when it comes to reading well known pieces with rhyming couplets, some prefer the traditional rhythm that comes with the couplets. Others, however, would rather change it up, this is how I prefer it, especially after this session because it can be interpreted and read in different ways which keeps it exciting.
Overall, I learned of different techniques when it comes to reading traditional and well known poems to other people and these techniques can be used for other poems when looking for the meaning. I found that when I broke it down and looked at which words to emphasise, I was really able to focus on the meaning of the piece and understand it.