Stars of Vaudeville #898: L. Wolfe Gilbert
11 hours ago
This is the former location of the blog of the Andrew Wood Acting Studio in Los Angeles.. The blog is now located at http://www.andrewwoodla.com/blog. This old location has been left in place as an archive.
She trained in Voice Studies at the Central School of Speech and Drama and is a published voice and acting coach. She has worked regularly with Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Ralph Fiennes, Joseph Fiennes, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Natalie Portman, to name only a few. She was previously in residence with the Royal Shakespeare Company (9 years) and also works with the Royal Court Theatre, Donmar Warehouse and Almeida Theatre, London. She has also worked extensively with the Moscow Art Theatre, Complicite, Cheek by Jowl, Comédie-Française, etc. She directed a production of King Lear in Los Angeles in 2008. Patsy Rodenburg teaches in the United States at the Michael Howard Studios in New York City.
But what really excites Scott is the parts of the brain Shaw was using for the poetry "In addition to all the parts of the brain associated with motor skills, like moving the tongue or lips, she used a part of the brain associated with analysing or doing a complex transformation of a visual image. If I told you to imagine the figure 8, turn it through 90 degrees, and then think of it as a pair of glasses – that's the extra part Fiona was using when she was performing the text."
This part of the brain has the funtime name infra parietal sulkus. "Interestingly, it's not the part used by non-professionals when they try to produce a voice," Scott says. "Actors do it in a very different way from you or me. When I started doing this research I came from a phonetics background where you break speech down, analyse it and build it up again. But professionals don't. They're doing something much more visceral and bodily."
Indeed, Shaw had an intuition of what she did before Scott performed her experiment. "I think actors' brains are like musicians' in that they've been trained to learn enormous sections of language not by rote but by imaginative association," she told me before going into the scanner. "You're often in a visual architectural space in your head. In order to remember it, I need a visual image in my head."
Are all actors like that? "Probably, yes. And people who aren't actors certainly aren't like that because they say things like: 'How do you learn your lines?' Well, you don't learn your lines, you live in the imaginative moment and the line is inevitable in that situation."