Earnest Preparation – The Art of Dialect

In preparation for our fall production of The Importance of Being Earnest, Valor alum Vin Ernst returned to run a dialect workshop for our cast. Vin graduated in the first class of Valor’s Conservatory (2016), is currently studying Musical Theatre at Metropolitan State University of Denver and has worked as an intern for the lead dialect coach for Colorado’s annual Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. Vin brought that expertise to our cast in a one-day workshop to teach them how to properly speak in the British upper-class ‘Received Pronunciation’ dialect, known as RP.

During the workshop, the cast did complicated articulation and projection exercises to learn the place of sound substitutions that are present in the RP dialect. The most memorable part of the day was the gurning competition. Gurning is the act of completely distorting your facial expression and creating the most absurd look possible. There are actual competitions that occur throughout the world! Gurning is also used as a technique to help actors learn better control of their faces and teach them how to create sounds in different places of their mouths in order to prepare them to speak in a new dialect.

Our actors definitely enjoyed this silly process! (Watch the clip if you dare.) By the end of the day, the students developed more confidence in their dialects as characters in the British elite society of the late 19th century.

Although there will be no gurning competitions during this show, The Importance of Being Earnest includes fantastic British dialects, spit-takes, food fights, stage slaps, a good old-fashioned brawl, and many more crazy antics. Get your tickets now for October 4 & 5 and 11 & 12!

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