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


QUESTION: Dear Peter

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: First of all, I'm sorry for the delay: I've been on Gozo, the tiny island off Malta.

Actual dubbing relies on the fact that in film and TV the image is quite separate from the sound. While it's possible to add sound to an actor who can't speak, the audience wouldn't be fooled. If it were a small theatre, the lips wouldn't match the words, and if it were large, the voice wouldn't move as the actor moved.

Twenty-four hours is often enough time to bring back some voice. Salt-water gargles, not talking, any number of potions, most of which work a bit. Actually, I think they work because the actor thinks they work, and relaxes his throat.
Which of your choices is best depends on the situation:
(a) having someone move as the character and read the part depends on the audience being held by the script more than the actor's performance.
(b) trying to hide the actor providing the voice is unlikely to work for long. In a trial scene, a court officer could voice the judge, perhaps.
(c) cancelling the play gets you out of the problem, but audience and actors are let down and Mister Sore-Throat feels to blame. Rescheduling is a better choice, if it's possible.

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

QUESTION: Dear Peter

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, provided medical attention was not sufficient for healing the sore throat problem.

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

Really, dubbing a voice to a voiceless actor can't effectively done.
In the case of R & J, an elegant solution might be to have two actors reading from scripts on lecterns on either side of the stage, while both R & J enact their scenes in mime, not attempting to mouth the words. Having the two actors silent should allow the audience to accept the (slightly weird!) convention that we are hearing the thoughts of the lovers.
You have given me some interesting new areas to work in!  

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Peter Messaline


This is the place for Canadian answers! My company runs "The Advisors", a Toronto-based career-power network for performers, producers and entertainment artists of all sorts. I am a performer, and I have not had a joe-job in the last thirty-odd years, so I must be doing something right. I can talk about career moves, self-promotion, self-production, and the business sense that turns your art into a living.


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