Off-Cut Twenty Eight

Notes on an interview with JOHN STANTON conducted by Margaret Throsby on ABC FM Monday 21st May 2001. JOHN was appearing as PROSPERO in the Melbourne Theatre Company production of "the Tempest" at this time.

This production of "The Tempest" was directed by Simon Phillips and in this centenary year of Australia's federation he had found a way of taking the resonances of colonial guilt that are evident in the original text and using them to create a purpose for the story which relates quite specifically to Australia. The aim of the production appears to ultimately make a "reconciliation statement". John Stanton was very enthusiastic about the concept of bringing fresh views to Shakespeare as long as it doesn't destroy the relationships and the plays original intentions.

What was particularly interesting was that JOHN indicated he was not an actor who had experienced formal training through institutions like NIDA. And yet it was evident that in some ways he had taken a very specific technical approach to developing his skills. At one stage in his career he had vocal problems which manifested themselves in not being able to lift his voice with any power into "top resonance". He could not do this without "bouncing off the vocal chords", he said. Many years ago when he was working in a production of "Richard III" he believed that he kept "fobbing" the climax of the play. So he would go home every night and "sing and sing" to endeavour to overcome the problem. JOHN explained how his natural speaking voice used chest resonance but that he could use nasal resonance and had taught himself to develop his head register. Large sounds need to be brought up into the nasal passages and head to resonate. Danger exists in trying to make large sounds from the chest and the vocal chords.

JOHN demonstrated singing a falsetto note (which plainly was resonating in his head) and advocated this as a really useful warm up exercise. "You actually don't have to make big noises to warm up," he said. "That's a nice one to do."

JOHN STANTON is an actor renowned for his voice-overs (it was his voice making the announcements at the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics). At Margaret's invitation he also briefly discussed his perspective on what makes his voice so sought after for documentary and advertising. In commercials they like the quality of his voice which cuts through other distractions and demands to be heard. This is a physical attribute he has inherited. But in documentary he thought it was as much the fact that he brought a none-judgemental presence to the commentary and that he didn't see his job was "to over emphasize the images".

Once again an informative exploration from Margaret Throsby - ABC Classic FM (105.9Mhz) 10.05am to 11.00am each weekday.

May 2001


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