Reading Aloud workshop

Introduction

In the olden days, literature was nearly always oral: Minstrels, Preachers and Storytellers would entertain the masses. Even in Victorian times it wasn't uncommon for friends and families to have evenings where they'd read to each other at the fireside.

Technology (first the Gramophone, then Television) has been blamed for loss of the spoken word, though of course, the spoken word hasn't entirely disappeared. A visit to any Public Library will show you the popularity of Audio Books, and poets in particular have found readings an important (even necessary) spur to their careers.

New Technology (pod-casts and the WWW) is now fueling a recital-revival. Joggers download stories, and motorists drive to CDs of Harry Potter. So whether you want to start a recording career (like Ian Holm and Stephen Fry have done in the UK), win a Poetry Slam or whether you just want more people to like your work when you read it out, you can benefit from improving your performance skills. I think reading out a piece also helps you understand it better, and may even improve your writing too.

Technology's moving ahead so fast that audio is becoming a viable alternative to paper. You can produce a CD for a few pennies, or put audio files online. There's even a chance that printed versions of poems will no longer be considered the "master" version of a poem.

You and your voice

How would you describe your voice? Have you ever heard your voice? How do you think others would describe it?

Criticism of your voice can feel like criticism of your whole being. What is a "Good Voice"? Here are 3 opinions from people who should know

The more you can relax and be yourself, the better. Volume and projection won't be issues - you'll be talking to microphones or small audiences. If in doubt, just speak naturally!

The Skills

Listening is hard. You can't listen at your own pace, go back to parts you don't understand, or benefit from the visual layout. So as a performer be careful what you choose to read, and think hard about what you might tell the audience.

On the plus side, a performer can help the audience by using various tricks

Preparing

Performing Poetry

Performing Prose

On the day

Things to avoid

Afterwards

Books and Courses

Audio Examples

Venues and Performers

Updated July 2006
[Quotes] [Articles] [LitRefs]
Tim Love