Hope is the Thing with Feathers

Drita P. Dumont performs Hope is the Thing with Feathers, a poem by Emily Dickinson.

Drita also performs in Spanish, El Dolor, a poem by Amalia Bautista.

Drita Protopapa Cropped 25 April 2017Drita P. Dumont is a multilingual Voice Over Actor with the ability to record in English, Portuguese and Spanish. She has 20 years of experience in Commercials, eLearning, Narration (Medical/Scientific/Educational), On Hold Messaging/IVR and Training Videos. Her clients include Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Florida Blue (she is the English voice for their phone messaging), Gallo Wines, Lockheed Martin, PGA Tour Latinoamerica and Western Union.

After studying Latin American culture and languages as an undergraduate at Rice University in Houston, Texas Drita went on to get a Masters in Brazilian Studies from Brown University and shortly after a second masters degree in Public Health with a focus on International and Family Health. While working in the community health field in Houston, Drita rediscovered her love of on camera acting and quickly became active with a local talent agency doing industrial and commercial work in English and Spanish. This renewed interest and creative activity is what led her to start her voice over career, 20 years ago, and helped land her 1st gig as the Portuguese speaking narrator for NASAs International Space Station video! 

When she is not recording, Drita enjoys spending time with family and friends – cooking Brazilian BBQ, sitting by the fire pit at night, taking long walks, cooking or simply watching movies on Netflix!

From Drita: “The beginning of 2017 was wrought with loss and sadness – on a personal level but also on a broader, national level. The weight of the sadness and sense of loss seemed to permeate everything. When in the darkness, we look for light. Literature and poems, in particular, provide a source of light and hope for so many. It was no different for me – “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson, seemed to be exactly what I needed at that moment in time. Actually, it is timeless. As I worked on the poem before and during our workshop, I become more and more connected to the words and meaning and it provided a sort of “instant” therapy to help rid me of the overwhelming sense of sadness I was experiencing at the time. Recording this poem as well as the one I recorded in Spanish, “El Dolor” by Amalia Bautista, helped me process my own pain and deep feelings of sadness and come out of the experience with more hope and a sense that “all will be well” in due time. The process of acting out the poem as a voice recording is what truly provided this path to a better place … just reading it alone could not have had the same intense impact.”

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Extending the Airport Runway

Jenn Rajala performs Extending the Airport Runway, a poem by Mary Oliver.

JennRajalaJenn Rajala has studied voice-over with Wren Ross for 8 years, and has applied that skill-set as a reader for the blind at Audio Journal Worcester.  Her primary interests in the field of voice include audiobook & documentary narration, and she has studied as a vocalist under SueEllen Kuzma.

From Jenn: “Mary Oliver is a favorite poet of mine, and her ability to communicate complex ideas with the simplest of language is a true gift.  Yet I also found that to be one of the challenges while making this recording.  I felt very tempted to try to do something to convey the meaning of the poem, but found instead that if I could trust and stay present to the language on the page, that message would come across far more clearly.”

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Pinkle Purr

Andrea O’Connell performs Pinkle Purr, a poem by A.A. Milne.

AndreaOconnellSix head shot views 002Andrea O’Connell worked in educational publishing for many years and has been a life-long singer.  The two paths merged in a publication for singers that she created and wrote for six years.  She sees voice acting as the next logical step in a life dedicated to authentic communication.  Andrea enjoys exercising her vocal colors in genres as varied as instructional narration, character dialog and humorous commercials.

From Andrea: “If one is looking for eternal truths, children’s poetry might not be the first place that comes to mind.  Yet, simple expressions are often the most effective so, why not?  In “Pinkle Purr” A.A. Milne takes only a few words to set a domestic scene everyone can recognize and relate to.  A tiny kitten arrives and its entire existence is its mother.  Everything it knows about the world comes from her and it learns by emulating her.  As the kitten grows, it ventures farther and farther from Mother’s safe, small world.  Wren helped me to experience the warmth and rightness of the journey as the now-confident cat assumes its supremacy in the natural order of things and demonstrates the evolving, yet enduring nature of love.” 

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If We Only Have Love

Matthew Greif performs If We Only Have Love, a poem by Jacques Brel.

MichaelGreifPhotoFrom Matthew: “As a former National Park ranger in Boston, I have had many opportunities to speak in public.  I have also had some prior experience in children’s theater and puppetry — but almost none in studio recording. So Wren’s workshop was an eye and ear-opening experience.  I chose to read (but not sing) the lyrics of one of my favorite songs by Jacques Brel, If We Only Have Love, poetically translated into English by Eric Blau.  The song’s message of hope and compassion seem especially needed during these difficult and divisive times. And in her own fun and playful way, Wren challenged me to abandon old habits and experiment with new techniques and unexpected ways to interpret the lyrics and connect with an audience. The process was exciting, surprising and very helpful. Clearly, Wren is a remarkably gifted teacher!”

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Dawn

Nancy Hilliard performs Dawn, a poem by William Carlos Williams.

NancyHilliardHairdown2aNancy Hilliard, educator actor, has participated in community theater in the Boston and Worcester areas, striving to give dignity and voice to all her characters. In her work as a tutor with children and adults, the goal is always to enable confident communication. Emotional, behavioral, and intellectual disability-difference can create low expectations among listeners, especially when verbal ability is diminished. Using art, sign language, drama and listening, we explore learning strengths and share our thoughts in story, game, and conversation.

From Nancy: “William Carlos Williams is a favorite poet, simplicity and ambiguity in his observation of the scenes around him. A recent witness of an awesome sunrise, so hazy at the seacoast that I could watch the huge golden globe rise above the horizon, inspired a search for sunrise poetry. Williams’ Dawn described the beauty and collaboration, but stunned with doubts that the Sun was aware of the voices surrounding and supporting ‘his’ ability and achievement. Are those of us ‘abled’ aware and respectful of those struggling to communicate with us?”

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Alone

Susan Giusto performs Alone, a poem by Edgar Allan Poe.

SMGiusto-AdventurerPhotoSusan Giusto started experimenting with voice acting at an early age performing and writing poems and radio plays. She has also produced sound effects and music scores for live theater. Recently Susan lends her voice to a myriad of projects from training videos and commercial spots to audio books and recently several character voices for animated short student films. She continues to keep her craft sharp by taking classes and workshops with Wren.  Susan can be contacted by thevoicegypsy@gmail.com and at https://voice123.com/profiles/susangiusto/.

From Susan: “I recently had a chance to visit Edgar Allen Poe’s home in New York City and was struck by the surrounding in which he was writing at that time. This was the house in which his beloved wife lost her battle with tuberculosis. The poem ‘Alone’ quietly acknowledges the struggles of loneliness and the twisted ways that one is really never alone with ones thoughts. Many times when I read Edgar Allen Poe I melt into my soul and feel how his life allowed him to capture such glorious visions in his words. Bringing his words to life was my gift to honor such a wonderful writer.”

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To the Western World

Tim Corbett performs To the Western World, a poem by Louis Simpson.

tim-corbettTim Corbett has been involved in performing, acting and voice-over work for several years.  Since 2013, he has been portraying historical characters at Boston’s Old State House for visitors from all over the world.  In these roles, he opens a window into life in the 1760’s, when Boston was a restive colonial capital of the British Empire, and the town’s inhabitants were subjects of young King George III.  He has performed in local community theatre, appearing as Howie Newsome in Theatre to Go’s production of Our Town in Melrose, MA.  Also, Tim recently performed the role of Chief Inspector in the Facing Exclusion program presented at the Paramount Theatre in Boston, MA.

Before coming to the performing arts, Tim worked with large global clients as a professional in the Information Industry.

From Tim: “I was already aware of Louis Simpson’s work when I came across To the Western World.  I was stunned by his ability to capture, in only three compact stanzas, the history-changing achievements, personal moments, and grinding hardship of the explorers and settlers who first came to America.  In performing this work, my goal was to offer the listener a chance to share that sensation.”

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The Journey

Kathy Zerlin performs The Journey, a poem by Mary Oliver.

KathyZerlinPhotoKathy Zerlin is a Boston area vocalist and an aspiring voiceover artist. Her New Year’s resolution is to delve deeper into her artistic pursuits, relinquishing the excuse that “life got in the way.”

From Kathy: “Poetry unleashes something. It is so open to interpretation, so the only fact that matters is what it arouses in you and how you identify with a poem. That makes it a very personal medium. In the recording booth, you feel the importance of each word and you want to honor those words by conveying the truth of the poem. You don’t want to be “off” or hiding your emotion so as not to feel vulnerable. That’s where Wren comes in! She helps personalize the poem by uncovering something inside of you. It was a cathartic experience!”

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The Road Not Taken

Valerie Smith performs The Road Not Taken, a poem by Robert Frost.

ValerieStevensValerie is new to voiceover and thoroughly enjoying the journey so far. “Observing people has always fascinated me. Getting to know characters and backstories helps me to do my best to honor the characters and the intention of the writers.”

In addition to her acupuncture practice of 20 years she has taught Chinese medicine for 18 years.

From Valerie: “Robert Frost has always been a favorite of mine, particularly this poem. Sometimes the less trodden road, although more challenging, ends up being the most gratifying.”

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The Power of the Spoken Word

Valerie Smith performs The Power of the Spoken Word, a speech delivered by Helen Keller to the National Institute of Arts and Letters at New York, New York.

ValerieStevensValerie is new to voiceover and thoroughly enjoying the journey so far. “Observing people has always fascinated me. Getting to know characters and backstories helps me to do my best to honor the characters and the intention of the writers.”

In addition to her acupuncture practice of 20 years she has taught Chinese medicine for 18 years.

From Valerie: “What Helen Keller wrote in 1947, still powerfully resonates in 2017. Her speech gave me chills the moment I read it. Her message that words have meaning and must be spoken with integrity is something we seldom seem to see, but still strive for in today’s world.”

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A Stone Upon the Cairn

Susan Giusto performs A Stone Upon the Cairn, a poem she wrote.

SMGiusto-AdventurerPhotoSusan Giusto started experimenting with voice acting at an early age performing and writing poems and radio plays. She has also produced sound effects and music scores for live theater. Recently Susan lends her voice to a myriad of projects from training videos and commercial spots to audio books and recently several character voices for animated short student films. She continues to keep her craft sharp by taking classes and workshops with Wren.  Susan can be contacted by thevoicegypsy@gmail.com and at https://voice123.com/profiles/susangiusto/.

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The Art of Acting Shakespeare

Shakespeare Recording“Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with this special o’erstep not
the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is
from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere, the
mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.” – Hamlet’s advice to the players

Shakespeare is “Miracle Grow” for actors.  The richness of the language, character and stories bring your work to another level.  Saying those amazing words, and doing those utterly human actions can make you high.

But here’s the rub: Tis better to love Shakespeare, and not revere Shakespeare. There’s a tendency to “act” “Shakespearean” where one puts on an affected English accent and over gesticulates dramatically. Ugh. This old fashioned and fake depiction turns us off.  Shakespeare warns us about this very thing in his advice to the players (quote above).

If we enter the world that Shakespeare creates and let ourselves investigate the complex characters and actions as earnest “Behavior Detectives,” we may find that the journey is enormously compelling and invites us to make the language our own.  And oh, that language!! With its rhythm, syntax, sound repetitions, metaphors and symbolism, the words you speak in Shakespeare’s poetry and prose elevates you. It also offers profound and amazing clues – revealing fascinating details about your character and the scene as you search. Acting Shakespeare is a celebration of curiosity.

The basic tenet that creates engaging acting is necessary in Acting Shakespeare: Embody your character and inhabit their world.  Let moment to moment discovery be your compass.  Rather than reciting some artificial idea of what you think the scene/monologue is “supposed” to be, Shakespeare bids you to be fully present so that you may find your most organic responses. The reward is that your performance will be authentic and truly dynamic.

We had such fun working on these monologues! It was so gratifying for me to see the glint in the actors’ eyes and hear the giggles of glee as they explored the texts.  Every week we came in with a ton of questions and improvised scenes to fill out the back story of the characters: How did Macbeth and Lady Macbeth meet? What was Lear’s relationship to his daughters when they were little girls?  Did Kent have a loss in his early life that shaped him into a loyal and steadfast man?  What was the relationship between Portia and her mother?  The investigations were intriguing and often surprising.  I believe this research gave the actors history, so that the characters became real believable people.

And one other thing:  The themes we encountered in Shakespeare’s plays of 400 years ago were eerily just as relevant today: The importance of truth vs “alternative facts,” the deadly drug of ambition, and the dangers of a narcissistic and insecure person’s pursuit of power, were among the themes that surfaced in our exploration of Shakespeare’s plays.

So, with no further ado, let’s draw back the curtain and present the Art of Acting Shakespeare monologues!

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Othello

Andy Hupprich performs Iago’s monologue from Othello, a play by William Shakespeare.

plymouth photographer | heidi hartingAndy Hupprich is a Boston area voice talent who, after a 26 year career in the newspaper business, and time spent as an EJ on an internet radio station in the late 90’s, has finally come to the realization that he has much more fun in front of a mic as opposed to behind the wheel of a truck.

From Andy: “Shakespeare’s Othello is such a timeless and relevant piece of work.  It’s amazing how something that was written so long ago can seem like it was created for this day and age.  Wren’s invaluable insight, fun exercises, and investigational questions made it fun and easy to develop a backstory for Iago and make him relatable and understandable.  Once I understood who Iago was and what his motivations were, learning the lines was just a formality – knowing who the character really was allowed me to fully explore him and add a dimension and depth to the piece that otherwise would not have been there.”

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