Asian Accents Panel

[ This post marks my return to blogging for the Fall of 2012! My hope is that I will be able to post on a bi-weekly basis. We’ll see how that goes. To people new to the blog, welcome! ]

Asian Accents poster image

This year at the VASTA Conference in Washington, D.C., I chaired a panel on Asian Accents and invited a great group of people to present with me: Erik Singer, Marina Tyndal, Steven Eng and Jane Guyer Fujita. We each took an Asian language and presented a very brief introduction to the accent associated with each one.

Steven Eng: Mandarin
Marina Tyndall: Cantonese
Eric Armstrong: Japanese
Jane Guyer Fujita: Korean
Erik Singer: Vietnamese

I think the best way to look great is to surround yourself with greatness, and so, by association, I think I looked pretty fantastic! I was so pleased with the presentations. Due to our limited time, we could only do a “driveby shooting” of the accent—quick in, quick out— but I think that participants in the audience learned some useful things on the day.

But more important that that, the group created a very important resource for actors who need access to Asian Accent materials: a website with audio (and in many cases, video), handouts and helpful guidance in order to learn these accents.

I hope that this will get out to the community of Asian actors, as I think that these can be very helpful tools. Of course, accent coaches also need these resources, but ultimately, we want to support actors in their work.

Finally, Steven Eng, who is not only an accent coach but also a fairly accomplished Asian actor, agreed to be interviewed on video so that he got an opportunity to talk about the pressures on Asian actors who are often expected to be able to do any accent at any time, and almost always with no support or resources.

Eric Armstrong is the voiceguy. Eric is a dialect, voice, speech and text coach based in Toronto, Canada, where he normally teaches full-time at York University’s Dept. of Theatre. Eric has been teaching voice for the actor full-time since 1994, and has taught in Canada and the US, at the University of Windsor, Brandeis University, Roosevelt University, Canada's National Voice Intensive and York University. He has worked for nationally and internationally recognized companies such as Crow’s Theatre, Volcano, SoulPepper, & Canadian Stage in Toronto, and The Court Theatre and Steppenwolf in Chicago. Eric holds a BFA from Concordia University (Montreal) in Theatre Performance, and an MFA from York University (Toronto) in Acting. His mentors were David Smukler (York, Canada’s National Voice Intensive) and Andrew Wade (Royal Shakespeare Company). He has also studied at the Drama Studio, London, and Il Stage Internazzionale di Commedia dell’Arte in Reggio Emilia, Italy. He’s a long time member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association, where he has served on the board, as a conference planner, photo editor for the Voice and Speech Review, Founding Director of Technology and Internet Services, and has written numerous peer-reviewed articles, essays and reviews for the VASTA Newsletter, the VASTA Voice, and The Voice and Speech Review.

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