Classically Speaking: Dialects for Actors : Neutral American, Classical American, Standard British (RP)
Classically Speaking offers an approach for American actors who wish to explore sound beyond their habitual speech, fine-tune their ability to hear and identify subtle variations in sounds and dialects, and to develop the flexibility and skills necessary to adjust their speech to the particular demands of a wider range of characters and material.
Neutral American Speech (NAS) is the most practical dialect an actor can study. Sometimes referred to as General American, it is spoken without regionalisms that identify an actor's specific point of origin or 'home' sounds. When effectively incorporated, the actor - and therefore the character - is not revealed as explicitly Southern, Mid-Western, or from Boston, New York, Chicago, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Texas, etc. He/she is therefore 'neutral'.
The Neutral American section gives special focus to the Rhythm Highlighters, which address general rhythmic issues for well-spoken American English, before delving into the specific spoken sounds of English in detail.
Classical American dialect offers an intermediate option between well-pronounced Neutral American and Standard British. It builds upon Neutral American, blending additional rhythmic and sound elements, which result in more formal or heightened speech without sounding British to an American ear.
Standard British (RP), the dialect traditionally spoken by the English upper and upper-middle classes, is appropriate for characters in period plays, those of the 19th century authored by Shaw and Wilde, or Restoration playwrights Congreve and Farquhar, among others.
It is also beneficial for American actors to know Standard British as a foundation on which to buildtheir study of foreign accents. Many people worldwide who have learned English as a second language have been taught by speakers of Standard British, and this is reflected in their spoken English sounds.
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