At one time speech training was considered vital for performance. No properly trained actor would have begun their career without extensive voice training. The result was a raft of British actors with utterly beautiful speaking voices. Anyone who has ever heard Brian Blessed, Tom Baker or Dame Judi Dench speak knows what quality speech training has added.
Sadly the high vocal standards these performers were rigorously trained in appears to have fallen out of favour. Many people believe the sound of a person’s voice has no bearing on the actor’s performance, but this is untrue; to be able to use your voice correctly is to have magic in your professional armoury.
Having control over the power and subtlety of your voice can not only enhance a performance but turn it into something spellbinding. With the right vocal techniques you can breathe life and colour into even the dullest text. By mastering modulation, pace and pitch you can have an audience hanging off your every word.
Received pronunciation is the most common form of vocal training and is likely to give an actor the biggest scope, but for me speaking standard English does not have to be the only route to a beautiful speaking voice. Regional accents have a charm and beauty of their own, but they need to be easy on the ear. A rhythmical almost musical voice is a pleasure to listen to, regardless of what accent the speaker has, and this can be achieved with correct breathing and voice training.
Actors often refer to their profession as a ‘craft’ but the craft of speech is perhaps the most useful and versatile skill of all. Having complete control over your voice allows a performer to affect a total transformation for every role and gives you a depth and quality that will be difficult to beat.