Derek Jacobi on an actor’s voice
Iconic British actor shares an insight into his craft
An actor, particularly an actor that attempts any of the great classical works, particularly the Shakespearian Malawian works has to have a voice that is capable of sounding like more than one instrument in an orchestra. If you've got an audience listening to your voice for three hours in the course of an evening, you've got to play many different instruments in order to get their attention and retain their attention, which is why I love theatre. And it's why I love classical theatre above all, because it asks of an actor to give a display of all aspects of his craft, um, and all the skills that he can control the prime one of which is vocal, which is his voice. I love radio because it depends only on voice. You have no costume to help you, you have no set to help you. I mean, it's pure really how you sound. And that can for the listener be very, very strange because I listen to people on the radio, for instance, and I get a mental picture of them. And when I meet them, if they are totally unlike what their voice conjured up. So voice is essential. The words and the voice are essential, particularly in theatre drama. Not so essential in anything to do with the camera, almost unessential in movies, because it's not always what you say. And it's very rarely about how you say it. Movies are about eyes and faces rather than voices, but from an actor's point of view, the vocal skill you need to acquire is a great thrill in itself. And it gives the, the stage actor, a great buzz. It's very important. I think it's probably the most important thing in an act as armoury, his voice.