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National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) Open Program
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) journalism students
New South Wales Youth Theatre
Newtown School of Performing Arts
John Curtin School of Performing Arts
Many radio TV and film voiceovers including Every Cigarette Is Doing You Damage for the Quit campagain, and the Metamucil ads.
Voiced documentaries for SBS Television
Many book readings for ABC Radio
Winner of the New York Radio Festival first prize for voicing an advertisement for the Liberal Party campaign
Past Students include:
Cody Fern (The Assassination of Gianni Versace)
Allison King (12 Strong)
Jason Isaacs (The Patriot, Harry Potter, Red Dog: True Blue)
Angourie Rice (The Beguiled, Jasper Jones, The Nice Guys, Ladies in Black)
Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why)
Mahesh Jadu (Marco Polo)
Costa Ronin (The Americans)
Adelaide Kane (Reign)
Amanda Woodhams (The Dressmaker)
Freya Tingley (Jersey Boys)
Aisha Fabienne Ross (The Danish Girl)
Shannon Berry (Offspring)
Reged Ahmad (journalist/anchor at BBC World News TV)
Kane Manera (The Guiding Light): award for the top real-estate salesman in Manhattan 2018
James on how he works
I mainly work with actors and would-be actors - but I have also taught journalists, broadcasters, business people who have to give presentations, schoolteachers who lack confidence and cannot be heard - as well as people with strong foreign accents, and ordinary people who want better voices for work, or to make them feel more confident. I can also help to correct some speech defects.
Why voice? I've often heard this said by young people who want to act - again and again. Kids whose ambition is largely directed towards the theatre know exactly why they need to learn about the voice: they need to be heard at the back of a theatre without any amplification - and that theatre may hold 2000 people. However, so many aspiring actors today are solely concentrating on television and films, where projecting the voice is simply not an issue. After all, you are going to have a microphone attached to our body while you act. So why voice? Why should I learn about it?
The film actor needs his or her voice as much as the stage actor. They need to be understood. Poor diction is still poor when it is miked: they need to be able to shout, to groan, to whisper, and to be understood in a fight scene, a love scene, a childbirth scene - and a death scene. They won't always be playing themselves or using their own accents. (They would be bored if they did!) So learning about accents is important, and learning an accent is always easier when you build on the basis of a good neutral voice.
Then there is the whole question of vocal beauty. I tell my students to put on a DVD of their favourite actor and close their eyes. Listen to Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio or Brad Pitt, and hear how attractive their voices are, how much they contribute to their performance and appeal.
So what do I teach, how do I teach?
First of all, you must know how to stand - straight and tall. Stand right, you will speak right, and chances are you will act right.
Then breathing. You must learn how to breathe deep into the stomach so that your voice can be strong, resonant and relaxed. Then we open the back of the thoat, so that you have volume without shouting. You must practise resonance exercises. This will give you a voice that powerful and has range, that is interesting, that is not flat. You must not only breathe from the stomach, you must speak from there as well.
The jaw should be loose and open so that you can be heard.
Then we go through every sound in the English language, to make your speaking strong, flexible and confident.
All through the technical training I will give you monologues to work on so that you will be albe to put the exercises to practical use. Technique is only good when we apply it to a goal.
From there we can go onto other things, like accents, TV and radio voice overs, book reading and Shakespeare and cartoon voices.
Remember that there is a whole field of employment for voice actors. There are actors in Australia who make large amounts of money from advertising voice overs, book reading for radio and audio books, documentary reading for films and television, as well as dubbing foreign films or voicing cartoons and animated films.
All my classes are recorded so you can work on your voice at home.
I charge $60 per hour or $520 for ten lessons.
With a good voice, you cannot lose. It will help you in life, in work, in romance, in parenthood. For an actor it is absolutely essential.