Prose Vocals

In Prose Reading, the use of vocals can be one of the most important aspects to performance.  Through the use of voice character is developed and interpreted.  The audience's main method to follow the story is by listening; unlike Humorous Interpretation where physicality better complements vocals.  Prose is about voice, no question.  So what can you do to use your vocal chords fully?

    Reading Voice.  The event is called Prose Reading.  This event is like a throwback to the olden' days when people would sit around in a circle and tell stories because radio and television had yet to begin to diminish our minds.  Back then, storytelling was an art.  Mostly people would follow an oral tradition a tell a story from memory.  However, if someone could read they would read aloud to a group.  Listeners would obviously want to hear someone with a nice voice that is easy to follow.  That is your objective in Prose: find a voice.  The narrator, unless the piece states/implies otherwise, should have a good voice an audience wants to listen to.  One of the best compliments a Prose Reader can receive is to be told they have a "nice reading voice."  Caress the words.  Feel them.  Lovingly embrace them and share them with the audience.  Not that this will ensure you win the round, but it certainly helps to have a great reading voice.

     Clarity through diction and projection.  There is nothing worse than listening to a Prose and having no clue what it is they are saying.  It is aggravating and mildly depressing when it looks like you are missing an excellent performance.  To avoid upsetting your audience practice improving your vocal range and articulation.  Simply stated, hit all your consonants and vowels while speaking loudly enough with support to be heard.  

     Variation.  Though you want to have a fantastic reading voice for Prose, you also do not want to induce slumber upon your audience.  What can you do?  Avoid monotone!  This can be accomplished through varying your use of tone, pitch, pace/rhythm, and dynamics.  Tone is the character of the sound.  Recall your mother saying "don't take that tone with me" when you were being sarcastic?  That's you using a sarcastic tone.  It's the mood of the sound.  Pitch is the key you are speaking--such as high or low pitched.  Musically, high pitched would be the Soprano and low pitched would be the base.  Pace and rhythm are the patterns you speak with.  Are you talking fast or slow (pace)?  Are you talking steady or with many pauses, then steady, followed with a gradual speeding up then slowing down (rhythm--maybe best related to musically as the time you keep, like 4/4 or 3/4)?  And dynamics are changes in volume.  Such as starting soft and then crescendo until you are loud.  Or you do the opposite with a decrescendo.  Dynamics are the extremes and the gradual growth in-between.  Your voice offers multiple ways to add variation, so have fun!

    Interpretation.  Every Prose story has characters that need development.  They need a voice, and it is your job to find it.  Look towards the script and begin to decipher the character from the text.  What are their wants, desires, interests, quirks, socio-economic level, feeling towards others, etc.  Flesh them out as much as possible.  After you find them a voice will come.  Then analyze the lines and find the motivation and subtext behind all sentences.  Apply the use of variation in accordance to the interpretation of character.  In fact, any Prose vocals need to be done with the interpretation of the text as guidance.  Your vocals must match the interpretation provided within the text.

Prose vocals hardly differ from those of other events in the process of creation.  However, the drastic change lies in the nature of the event.  Prose is built on voice.  There is use of body to tell the story, but the main tool is voice.  Therefore, extra focus must be done on creating a fantastic piece to listen to.  It is not enough to have a few vocally powerful spots and the rest be mediocre.  EVERYTHING must be brilliant.  Prose gives you a book.  It is your job to create magic from the words within using your voice.