The Dropped “R”

by Donald the Dialect Coach

When working on your dialect training, it’s important to remember that the “R” sound is a HUGE part of every dialect.

Depending on the dialect, the “R” sound is either dropped, used heavily, or rolled.

A few dialects that drop the R sound are: British, Cockney, New York, Australian, Southern, South African

Remember we only drop the “R” when it isn’t important in the word.

For Example, let’s use the word “Race.” If we dropped the “R” in “Race” it would become “Ace.” That won’t work at all! If you drop the “R” sound in that word it COMPLETELY changes the word and it’s meaning. The “R” sound is to important to drop in the word “Race.”

A good rule to follow is IF A WORD BEGINS WITH AN R, DON’T DROP THAT R.

Now, let’s look at the word “Heart”

If drop the “R”, it becomes “Hahht.” If you drop the “R” correctly, the word “Heart” will still make sense. Always use common sense and say the word out loud to make sure that it still sounds right.

Lastly, let’s look at the word “Other”

We can easily drop the “R” and still have the word make sense.

A good rule to follow is IF THE WORD ENDS WITH AN R, DROP IT.

Knowing when to drop the “R” will speed along your dialect training tremendously. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. The easier it becomes, the more awesome YOU will become.

Student Films Make an Excellent Credit and a Great Real

By Diane Christiansen

Acting is a competitive sport.  The supply of actors is much greater than the demand of roles.  Nowhere is this more true than in major motion pictures.  The production powers that be do everything they can to protect the huge monetary investments they make in a film, which often means casting “name talent” to help carry the film into box office success.  So how do you become a “name” that the industry knows?  This may come as a shock, but student films are a great place to start and go a long way toward getting your name out there.  Think about it.  Today’s student filmmakers are the big ticket directors and producers of tomorrow.  Getting in on the ground level and establishing a name for yourself at local film schools can be a launch pad for future projects long after the once student filmmakers have graduated.

In addition, several film schools in Los Angeles have a great reputation for cranking out talented young filmmakers, including University of Southern California, American Film Institute, UCLA, CALARTS and Loyola Marymount University, to name a few.  Having film credits from these top-tier schools on your acting resume is an impressive feat that can help you stand out to casting directors.  You may even run into alumni of the schools on your resume in the audition room.  Upon glancing over your resume, they will almost surely make mention of your mutual affiliation with their alma mater.  You can then take the opportunity to establish rapport and familiarity just by virtue of having a common institutional connection.

Finally, student films can provide great footage for your demo reel, especially if you can happen upon a senior or graduate level film.  Advanced students are typically more experienced at making quality films.  Plus, they are even more likely to produce their most quality work when the film is part of a final thesis project that will represent the full culmination of their studies.  So if you are cast in a thesis film, consider it a big accomplishment.  Not only have you added another credit to your resume, but you can bet that your student filmmaker will be working overtime to ensure that both of you look your best.  The thesis film is the student filmmaker’s baby, and nobody wants an ugly baby.  So you can be sure that they will work their hardest to create a quality film in all aspects from directing, to cinematography, to editing, and everything in-between, which all adds up to golden reel footage for you!

SPECIAL SKILLS – A Commercial Audition-Getter

When new actors first start auditioning for Commercials and they don’t have many credits, their special skills can be a major asset in getting auditions.  Many commercial and often theatrical roles are looking to cast actors with specific skills.

Skills and hobbies can be almost anything in which you excel, do well or have some experience doing and should be listed on your resume. AND how you list them is very important.  Your level of proficiency should be included when appropriate.  It can make your skill mores impressive to the casting directors and make you more desirable for their auditions. Some of the adjectives you might use to describe your expertise are: basic, experienced, intermediate, excellent, professional, etc. -whatever is descriptive and appropriate for you.

Here is a one-paragraph, format example of how to make the listing of your skills more effective:


Volleyball (state champion), singing (mezzo soprano, two- octave range), Japanese (fluent), Spanish and Italian accents, soccer (B-rated), Running (competitive), experienced cat breeder, excellent wood carpenter, intermediate saxophone player, miniature doll house expert, computer programmer, collector of Madonna posters, trained in archery, juggling, basic martial arts, crew rowing, Survivor contestant, balloon sculpting, valid drivers license and passport.

The order of how you state these attributes also significant. Start with your most proficient ones and then list those for which there might be a greater demand. Follow those with the ones you have less experience doing or are more obscure.

You could get lots more auditions when you have lots of skills, hobbies, talents and life experiences. 

Joe Tremaine

Audition and Move On!

Auditions are the mainstay of the way performers get jobs.

I know many people dislike auditions, but they are “the way business is done.” You have to show what you can do – “Show me what ya got kid!”


A performer should be ready to audition at a moments notice!

You should be in classes, in training, working out, etc., as often as you possibly can – preferably several times a week. One must “keep one’s instrument tuned” at all times.

As a dancer you should always have everything ready for an audition – jazz shoes, heels for the ladies, sneakers for hip hop, tap shoes, pointe shoes, etc. Also, a change of clothes/outfits should be kept in your car.

*Preparation is the key to success!

At the Audition:


Focus on the person(s) conducting the audition. Make eye contact with those in charge.

Do not be distracted by others auditioning!

Is your body language showing that you are the Choreographers / Directors dream cast member? Are you showing that you are easy to work with and competent?

After the Audition:

Possibly the most important thing I can tell you about auditioning is… MOVE ON!
Move on after the audition knowing that you did the best you could do at that point in time.

I had a roommate in New York once who was the “champ” at beating himself up after an audition from which he was cut. He would go into a depression and keep asking over and over “What did I do wrong? I thought I did great!” ….What a negative waste of energy. My response to him was “Shut up! Move on! Focus your energies on THE NEXT AUDITION!

Trying to analyze an audition can drive you crazy! You never know what the Choreographer, Producer or Director is thinking. Just know that they did not choose you at that time for whatever reason and then move forward.

Certainly if you realize at a certain point that you are lacking in any area of your training, then you must work on that area! Take classes and work on that weakness!

Be prepared so that when you walk into the audition you are confident and ready to “show ‘em what ya got!”

“Over prepare and then go with the flow!”

Donald the Dialect Coach

How to Learn a Dialect (Without Losing Your Mind)

The one thing that you never want to be is burned out!

Dialects are complex things.

A word of warning.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re first learning a dialect. Trying to identify each sound change, making adjustments, and keeping it believable can be really tough without a knowledgeable coach.

How do you do it?


Learning a dialect is a BIG undertaking.

If a dialect were an animal, it would be an elephant. A really friendly and nice elephant that you’d want to hang out with.

Like Dumbo.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

What I’m saying is this:

Do NOT try to do every sound change in a dialect right off the bat. That’s only going to buy you a headache

Start small.

First, focus on the resonance (what part of your mouth the sound lives in). That’s 90% of any dialect. Become very comfortable with changing from your natural resonance to the resonance of the dialect at will.

Next, decide which two sound changes are most important. In other words, which two sound changes give the dialect its distinct sound? Study those sound changes. Become a master of just those two. Don’t worry about anything else with regards to the dialect.

When you have mastered the resonance and the two sound changes, you’ll notice something magical happening. The other sound changes will begin to naturally creep into your speech creating a full, round, and believable dialect.

Donald The Dialect Coach

Diane Christiansen Kids & Teens

3 Guideposts to Breaking Down a Script

By: Diane Christiansen

Here are a few simple strategies to get a quick jump start on not only memorizing, but also understanding your script.

  1. Listen for the voice of your character. Read your lines aloud several times, over and over again while reading the other character lines silently. This way the only lines you hear are those of your character. After a while, you should begin to hear your character’s voice. You will begin to get a feel for the tone, cadence, and personality of your character. Try to find new ways to say the lines, using different inflections, levels of volume, and rates of speech. Continue to play and experiment until you land on a voice that resonates with the essence of who your character is.
  2. Note what is said about your character by the other characters. Take a closer look at what the other characters in the script say about your character. How do they refer to you? Do they refer to you at all? What types of adjectives or phrases are used to describe you? What is the tone of the conversation when your name comes up? All of the various ways in which your character is mentioned or not mentioned in the dialogue of the script may give you some useful hints about the type of person you are portraying.
  3. Find the most important words in each line of the script. Dissect each of your scenes line by line, marking the most important words in each line of dialogue. For your lines, this will help you to better choose moments of emphasis where you may decide to pause on or punch particular words. In addition, identifying key words in your scene partner’s lines will help you find more poignant moments to react to, thereby providing stronger motivation for your character to speak in response. This is a great exercise to improve your listening skills as an actor because it keeps you engaged in both what you are saying, as well as what is being said to you throughout the scene.
Diane Christiansen Kids & Teens

How to “Pop” at Auditions

By Diane Christiansen

Auditioning is hard. It is arguably the most difficult aspect of acting. The actor’s imagination must be at it’s sharpest during the audition. You must be able to walk into a bare room and completely transform the environment and energy of the space, leaving an indelible impression on your observers. In other words, you need to “Pop” at every audition. Here are a few pointers to help you get poppin’.

  1. Treat each audition like it’s the first rehearsal. You know that excited feeling you get during your first rehearsal for a production? The security of knowing that you’ve already landed the role allows you to just relax, have fun, and be creative. You might find yourself taking chances and playing with new choices until you land on one that feels right. This is the same worry-free abandon that you need to bring to the audition. Think of it less as an interview and more as a collaboration between you and whoever is in the room. Go into the audition knowing that you have already done the necessary preparation of your character and be ready to play with your fellow collaborators. Not only will your positive energy be infectious, but you will also give a better performance as a result of swapping the audition tension for first rehearsal enthusiasm.
  2. Find opportunities for nuance. Think fine point details rather than sweeping brush strokes. Finding moments to make your own unique mark on your character will speak volumes in your performance. Don’t overlook the obvious choices readily evident in the script, but also look deeper into the subtext behind the written words. You may discover alternate interpretations of the lines that only you will find based on your own personal experiences and perspective. As a result, you can make the material your own by bringing an interpretation that only you can to the audition. Whether your interpretation is consistent with what the director wants is less important (at least on the first read) than making a committed and nuanced choice that will leave an impression different from anyone else.
  3. Take control of your audition. From the moment you walk into the room, let it be known that this is not your first rodeo. Be a professional. Be confident (or at least fake it!). Greet each person in the room as you enter and say thank you to everyone as you leave. Feel free to set parameters to get you in the proper mind space for your reading. Let your observers know if you need to take moment before you begin and if you will sit or stand (if the option is yours). Make eye contact with each person at some point while you are in the room, so that every individual there knows that you have seen them and so you know that they have each seen you too. Remember, over the course of a full day of auditions, it can become increasingly difficult for casting to distinguish one person from the next. Auditions may start to run together as fatigue sets in and attention wanes. You have the opportunity to fight against the monotony that casting may experience by making a specific connection and giving them something interesting about you to remember. Of course, your performance should be memorable all on it’s own; however, given two equally great performances from different actors, your personality, poise, and professionalism may break the tie. Talent is certainly a prerequisite for the best roles, but people also have to like you and want to work with you. So steer the course of your audition to ensure that you are being represented in your best light.