Careers: Acting, Performing, Directing/Dubbing Voice in Plays.

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QUESTION: Dear Kenneth

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: Hello Prashant.   As a matter of fact there is quite a bit of dubbing of singing and some speaking voices in professional theatre and the singers/actors either sing along or lip-sync the lines.  I have also see productions in which an actor had lost his voice and had to do the best he could under the circumstances. To dub would take a great deal of time and require very good equipment. I would neither dub nor cancel the play.  The actor with the voice problem should visit a throat specialist and explain his problem  Often a steroid injection will solve the problem.  Replacing the artist is a good choice if the artist cannot get proper medical help. But make sure the replacement knows the role. I would use an assistant director or a stage mangaer as a substitute or, as I have done, do the role myself. So, the original artist should seek medical help and in case that does not work out the director or one of his assistants should do the role.

Best wishes for a successful productiong, Doc

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

QUESTION: Dear Kenneth

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.

i.e.

a. Replacing the Artist with another Artist, provided medical attention was not sufficient for healing the sore throat problem.

You also gave one more option.

d. Portraying the role by Play Director if possible.

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 role 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

Answer
Prashant: The ailing actor, being a famous performer who is the reason many audience members bought tickets, makes the situation somewhat more difficult. I do not see that the off stage dubbing of the lines for a pantomiming actor on stage would be satisfactory. The closest situation I have encountered was that the actor who was ill was replaced with an actor of equal quality. In one such situation that I encountered the substitute actor carried the script.  This would be more difficult with Romeo than Juliet due to his having to sword fight while doing the lines.  I once saw a popular professional play on Broadway in which the lead female had lost her voice and was barely audible during the performance.  And it happened to me as an actor playing Oscar in The Odd Couple, I lost my voice and went on with whatever voice I could muster.  I think it is a matter of professionalism.  Either you find a substitute of equal quality or the original actor goes on with whatever voice he or she can muster. Best wishes, Doc

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Kenneth D. Plonkey

Expertise

Questions about acting and directing. Questions about getting started in a careeer. Questions about training and schooling for actors.

Experience

I am a retired film actor. I am a retired university theatre program director and professor. I am the author of "The Tao of Acting, Mentoring for the Aspiring Actor" to be published this summer.

Organizations
SAG

Education/Credentials
BA, MA, PhD in Theatre Post graduate study with certificate in Media Acting

Awards and Honors
John Golden Traveling Fellowship

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