The Anthropology of Acting: How accent is inextricably linked to culture, and how it manifests in language and movement.
Everything is connected. It is impossible to think of accent as independent of the culture (movement, gender politics) in which it exists. One thing changes, and everything else changes. An accent is inextricably tied to one's cultural background, history, which all, of course, feeds into an individual's personality.
The Links Between Culture, Language and Movement
I was preparing for an audition today, where I was requested to do two versions: one in a "neutral" accent (which turned out to be more American in the end), and the other in a mild Japanese accent. During the process, the first difference I noticed was in the instinctive choice of ad lib words. It came to me naturally to use the very western/American phrase, "you know", but less so when it came to the Japanese accent (well, at first anyway). Had I been asked to do an stronger Japanese accent, this link between accent and culture would have been more pronounced, and would have manifested itself in my physicality/ movement, which would also begin to take on the staccato rhythm of the Japanese accent, and more specifically a light staccato one used by most women in Japan, again reflecting the gender culture and politics of Japan. This staccato rhythm also finds its expression in the traditional musical instruments of Japan as well as the Japanese language. Again, accent is inextricably tied to the multivariate aspects of a culture.
However, just like a sculptor who carves his material to find the essence of truth of his subject, actors have to fine-tune their discoveries about their characters to find their essence or "truth".
While playing with the degrees of accent, movement and language, I realised my first assumption that a Japanese girl would not say "you know" was just that - an assumption, based on a stereotypical thought process. And yes, while this may not be many Japanese native's first go-to phrase, it is not out of the question for them to use it. So instead of cementing myself in first impressions and limited preconceived ideas, I broke my boxes and worked backwards - I experimented keeping the slang phrase "you know" while speaking in the mild Japanese accent. What emerged was a discovery about my own character - the director did say she is a diver who is adventurous, spirited, young and open to new experiences. These personality and cultural traits make it highly probably that she is a well-travelled person who marches to the beat of her own drummer. It is likely that on top of embracing what she loves about her Okinawan culture, she sees herself as more than just a traditional Okinawan girl - a citizen of the world. So it is likely she would have picked up what has now become a global culture and lingo in her speech. All of a sudden, she became believable - a real breathing adventurous 21st century woman who just happens to be from Okinawa, beautiful and distinct in her own way. With that, she also embodied a very particular flavour as a human being, which is usually lacking when we play to types (stereotypes or archetypes). This unique and individual flavour could only be described as a "Nami-ness" about her that cannot be replicated even with others who fall into the same demographics. She was no longer just a type or just a combination of types. This is the beauty of what an actor brings to a role, this distinctive rasa of a person that makes her living and breathing. Did the Word not say "ye are gods", "made in God's image"? And did not God give life with His breath? So do we create living characters by breathing life into words on a page.
First time reading much appreciate it
Billion during pull product.
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This journal documents my process as an actor, reflecting upon the various techniques, methods, training and discoveries I make as I continue to hone my craft.