Speech is Silver, Screaming is Golden

Jenna as Betty in Sure Thing, FELT IF 2012, photo by Håkan Mitts, Thespians Anonymous 2012

During this fall, I’ve gotten up from a chair for, let’s say altogether about 40 times, to scream the following: “And that you’ve been involved with her, off and on, in what you’ll call a very ‘intricate’ relationship, for about SEVEN YEARS, none of which interests me mister!”

In David Ives’ short play Sure Thing, my character Betty goes from shy to loving to completely rageous – meaning holding fists up, running around, leaning over a table and screaming – or looking like I’m screaming at least.

“And again!”, my (wonderful) director calls from behind the curtain. Step one: sit down. Step two: take a deeeeeep breath. Step three: get up and shout.

Now this endless repetition wouldn’t really work if I would be really screaming my vocal chords off – which leads us to the idea of technique. Something that most likely is already familiar to most of the people who spend their time on stage – some people do it right without even paying notice.

But to begin with, I’m really a quiet person. I rarely shout and usually only when I’m angry. Since joining the Thespians this fall and starting my new shouting routine I’ve been on a territory less familiar to me.

Firstly when I started to shout, I actually went through a ton of old arguments in my mind – the ones with shouting involved. Secondly, there was the physical part. The first times I released myself into shouting, I turned red, started shaking and spat like a fountain. I think my poor co-actor, the singing and acting multitalent Lauri, has been lucky not to have his eardrums broken, or to be drowned in saliva.

The thing to learn was to use one’s voice properly, without exhausting it or breaking it to pieces. The internet is filled with tips to maintain your voice on stage, usually involving the following list of words: diaphragm, tea with honey, humming, word formation, vocal chords, poise and proper breathing. (I also found a page called How to scream like your favourite hard-core bands, with the included tip: “Screaming in your car while driving takes away your attention from the road and may cause crashes.”).  Gladly I’ve had the pleasure to work with some good-voiced people as well, who’ve made the not really screaming while screaming part of our play a lot easier for me.

Voice is one to tremble, disappear or grow by the situation we’re in. Just guessing here, but I think that a good actor makes it do by the situation their character is in.

I’ve been slowly coming to the conclusion that silence is power but so is also screaming with your mouth open, using your diaphragm and drinking loads of water in between the shouts.

Jenna Parmala is a new member of Thespians Anonymous who recently learned that writing your thesis while screaming may cause dizziness and other side effects.

Thespians Anonymous proudly present seven short plays – including Sure Thing – at FELT IF, held 20-25 November at Dance Theatre Hurjaruuth. At FELT IF 2012, the fourth Festival of English Language Theatre in Finland, a total of nine short plays are staged by three companies: The Finn-Brit Players, Thespians Anonymous and Blood, Love & Rhetoric. For more information about the performances and plays, visit the FELT IF website.

Our thanks to the photographer, Håkan Mitts!

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