Friday, May 22, 2009

Voice Acting--the stuff of life!

Today is the stuff life is made of. I volunteer weekly (when health permits, anyway) at the local state school for Deaf kids, helping out during after school electives. This term I was thrilled to get to work with the elementary drama group. I love acting, I love that age of kids, and I love signing…how much better does it get? (one more better, but I’ll get to that!)

Sometimes it was a little challenging because most of the kids only had a line or two in the skit, meaning at any given time during rehearsal there were about 12 bored little kids waiting for their turn, LOL. But that gave us volunteers something to do (help keep them out of trouble).

Young kids can be a challenge to understand in any language, and many deaf kids get no access to language until they arrive at school--putting them behind. Of course, it’s my second language, so that adds to the challenge. I started volunteering there (off and on) three years ago. It’s exciting to see my progress in receptive skills since then. Now I can understand pretty much everything going on, even overheard conversations (oh my, the little six-year-olds’ are sooo adorable, even when they are mad, haha. ASL is such an expressive language and they take full advantage of it! “If you do that, I’ll cry and cry! I’ll cry a roomfull of tears and drown in them!”).

The grand performance was tonight. On Tuesday near the end of practice we suddenly discovered that, contrary to what we assumed, there would be no voice interpreter for the play. Some of the audience doesn’t know sign, and the students really wanted their hearing guests to be able to understand the play they’d worked so hard on. Guess who got called on? You guessed it--me! Of course, I can’t technically interpret yet, but because we’re working with a script and get to practice with the actors it’s considered “voice acting” instead of interpreting.

I’ve loved reading out loud or doing dramatic readings with all the voices for as long as I can remember, and voice acting for real live people instead of fictional written characters is even better! I’ve had the opportunity to voice act for plays at the school before, and loved it. Though that time I actually got to prep and practice a bunch ahead of time, ha. This time we had a total of one afternoon of rehearsal. I asked a classmate to help me, so we could do the back-and-forth dialog. Of course, I’d seen the play (in bit and pieces) as they’d been learning it, but my classmate hadn’t seen any of it and wasn’t familiar with the kids.

The afternoon rehearsal today was pretty important. Yeah. Well. Both of us ended up stuck in freeway traffic. For almost an hour and a half. Meaning: we completely missed the rehearsal. Boo for forgetting it was Memorial weekend and realizing that meant everyone and their fifteenth cousin would be on the freeway.

Allrighty then. Thank God for a laidback group of people. We were able to at least talk over the script with the assistant director and introduce my classmate to the students and their roles. Then, right before the performance started, the kids went through the play one last time out on the back patio. Phew. We voiced it and worked out a few kinks and were ready to go!

It went marvelously. Of course there were mistakes, mostly things like voicing a line for the king with a high-pitched voice and the queen with a low voice--oops--but overall it went quite well. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as being rewarded with a ripple of laughter from the audience for a line well-acted and well-voiced. The kids did a great job of ad libbing and knowing that "the show must go on" when prop problems showed up, even when the princess (from Princess and the Pea) tumbled right off the tall bed with the air mattresses and covers crashing down on top of her! It rather added to the comic effect of the play.

After our elementary kids’ skit, the high school students did a play (without a voice interpreter). Wow. They did an incredible job with acting and props. It was beautiful.

[OK, survey--and I honestly want to know. I sat down to write a brief post about my day, and it turned into a page-long novel. Do you guys like reading my accounts with lots of details like this, or would you rather have a brief account with just the main info and a few funny anecdotes?]


Laury said...

You are so funny, Amy. I like reading about your experiences. That way I can live them through you.

How fun it sounded. You were a PERFECT choice for the job! Thanks for sharing.

Hua said...

Hi Amy,

Great post. Those performances sounded like they were a lot of fun.

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