Acting in Plays, Singing/Dubbing Voice in Plays.


QUESTION: Dear Isaacson

1. Is it possible to Dub voice in Plays as there are live performances by artists as compared to Movies ?.

2. What will you prefer as a play director in this scenario for taking decisions ?.

Performing Artist reports Sore Throat, Cold problem which will not allow him/her to narrate properly just 1 day before the play ?.

a. Replacing the Artist with another Artist.
b. Dubbing voice for the Artist played in background by another artist. i.e. The Same Artist will act in the play, only in the background another voice will be playing which the artist has to synchronize.
c. Cancelling the Play.

Among a,b,c which is best suited for taking a decision and under what conditions and parameters ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: Thank you for one of the more unique questions I've received in quite a while. I hope that my inadvertent delay didn't inconvenience you too much.

If I understand the first question (1.) correctly: yes, dubbing voices is sometimes quite common in live theatrical performances. For the other side of a telephone conversation, for example, a theatre company will use either a recorded voice or a live actor backstage, depending on the availability of the actor and the resources available to the company. My current show does this, with an actor backstage.

As to the scenario (2.), I can actually see options a. and c. playing out under different circumstances. Under no normal circumstances would you actually, in a live performance, see option b. as a viable option. Option a. would occur if and only if you had someone who was able to learn the part *immediately* or was already an understudy for the role. Otherwise, you would most likely see option c. where either a single performance, a block of performances (say, one weekend), or the entire production was cancelled, depending on how critical it was that a specific actor perform the role.

Of course, each individual situation is unique and has to be addressed uniquely.

If you have any additional questions, please let me know.

-- Spyder

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Spyder

Thank you.

You have interpreted my question correctly.

As a example, you are the Play director of the Famous William Shakespeare's Play "Romeo and Juliet". Now the Lead performers playing the part of Romeo or Juliet had the sore throat problem, but not critically ill and just one day in advance before the play. Now you could have taken a decision of either a,b or c.

In this case, you selected Option a.


a. Replacing the Artist with another Artist.

Another Scenario

The scenario is that the Lead Role who is playing the role of Romeo or Juliet is a well known theater artist personality. i.e. Audiences are going to watch the play and have purchased tickets because of the famous artist who is acting in the play of either Romeo or Juliet.

So i would really like to know if you had much more time (not a single day, but say 3-4 days), Is it really difficult for practice and match up the one actors voice with the other's mouth ?.

i.e. Behind the curtain another artist is narrating dialogues with a microphone while the famous artist is doing lip movements and gestures.
As you correctly interpreted, the lip movements and the voice behind should synchronize.

In this case, the audience will be able to see Romeo or Juliet in play but the voice will be not the original voice of the famous artist portraying the role of Romeo or Juliet.

Have you ever encountered such a situation ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

My apologies for taking so long to respond to your question. Life, as they say, is what happens when you're making other plans.

It is almost impossible to match one person's lips with another's voice in a live performance, and absolutely impossible to do so on a consistent basis. Even if, by some miracle, you were to succeed the result would look mechanical and forced instead of natural, which is the goal of every actor. This is especially true with Shakespeare.

This is why I have NEVER seen it done in live theatre, except in a comedic way where the voice and the lips weren't supposed to match up. The only time I have ever seen it done in any way shape or form was, for example, in the Doctor Who episode "Midnight" which had a superb and amazing example of something very, very similar. Please note that that wasn't a live performance but a filmed performance, and they had the opportunity to do multiple takes to get it right.

Acting in Plays, Singing

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J. Spyder Isaacson


Especially the Seattle theatre scene. Seattle is the number two theatre city of the nation, having more theatres than any other city (including Chicago!) except New York. I know the reputations of most of the local theatres, have worked with quite a number of them, and am currently earning the majority of my livelihood through live theatre. Beyond that, I have been a working professional for the past 10 years (after a long career in an unrelated field), have done just about everything in the field, and have done every possible type of theatre. Currently, I am also pursuing a new (and unexpected!) career as an animated film producer. (PLEASE NOTE that I am NOT an expert in music!) ***DO NOT*** ASK ME QUESTIONS REGARDING AUDITION SONGS OR MONOLOGUES - the answers require way too much information to be passed along by the All Experts system.


I have been an award-winning actor, singer, playwright, director and administrator (on various levels, all categories) for the past 30 years. A large part of my expertise has been with live theatre, although I do have a minor connection to filmed theater. I have done musicals, straight dramas, straight comedies, and experimental theatre.

Theatre Puget Sound Magical Mystery Troupe Centerstage Theatre Conservatory Board of Trustees (former) Express-Theatre Northwest (former) Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater

Unrelated trade publications

B.A. in Theatre Arts, Gonzaga University M.Ed. in Education and Technology, Western Governor's University (in progress)

Awards and Honors
Mutiple awards (ask for specifics), Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival Valley Community Players, Best Supporting Actor

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C's Animation Studio Productions, LLC

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