Paul Bunyan - Accents and lumberjacks

Posted on Fri, 2013-03-15 16:40 by Backstage

The past two weekends of rehearsal have revolved solely around the music. Alice, our musical director, has been guiding us through Britten’s score so we can get the hang of it all in order to be off copy by Easter. The process tends to go like this: speak the rhythm, listen to the notes, sing it, add dynamics and then check with Caleb, our accent coach, that we sound like lumberjacks and not like very well-spoken Brits. Easier said than done…

There are a handful of other accents throughout this show, other than the default American. Paul Bunyan calls for lumberjacks from all over the globe to join him, resulting in a workforce comprising of German, French, British and Swedish loggers. I play one of the Swedes, which is an accent I can safely say I have no experience with whatsoever. My fellow Swedes and I spent our rehearsal practising our Swedish accents, with varying degrees of success. We had to find a line between “suitably exaggerated” and “The Swedish Chef from the Muppets”. I had a go at writing my lines phonetically in my score to help:

“My biRthpleis vas in Sveden eet’s a very lahng vey off. My eh-pitite vas heaRty but I coodn’t get eenoff.”

I apologise in advance to any real Swedes who may be coming to see the show.

By the end of Sunday’s rehearsal, we sang through every chorus section in the opera. It sounded great and I was rather proud of us all. We’re one step closer to an excellent show.

Dafydd Weeks (Singer in the Lumberjack Chorus)

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