My Journey to Now

By Paul Meier

From The Voice and Speech Review, December 11, 2017

I am honored and flattered to be among the first of several senior VASTA members invited to contribute an essay by this title to the Voice and Speech Review, and I look forward very much to reading my colleagues’ stories.

Never much of a joiner of nor a believer in organizations, I have been lavishly served by VASTA and am very proud to serve it in turn. My work has been infinitely enriched by my professional relationships with my VASTA friends, so I am happy to share the story of “my journey to now.”


Unseen Influences


In the 1950s, I was just a little boy growing up in provincial, post-war Britain when I was initiated into the power of the spoken word through “the wireless.” There was no telly in house, no live theatre, and even cinema visits were few and far between. But the actors’ voices – invisibly borne on the air waves all the way from Broadcasting House in London to the Grundig radio in our living room in Bournemouth, a hundred miles west – thrilled me beyond words.

One of my earliest visual memories is of the mise-en-scène in The Grey Room, a radio thriller.[1] Of course, I conjured those images myself out of the disembodied voices, and they were, therefore, more powerful and long-lasting. “Think when we talk of horses that you see them.”

I have come to believe that when a thought is given voice, it has a special power unmatched by the written word. Good actors have the ability to endow those powerful thoughts with magic; after all, spells must be voiced for maximum efficacy, I believe; I think I absorbed that belief through the radio plays of my childhood.

When seeking other explanations (or excuses) for going into theatre myself, and into the spoken-word end of the business in particular, the fact that I spoke three English dialects natively by age 12 cannot be insignificant. There was the rich, rhotic, country sound of Hampshire, courtesy of my grandparents; the posh RP to which Mum, their daughter, aspired to for herself and kids; and the “Sahf” London sound I acquired in mere weeks following our move to “The Big Smoke” when I was 12. I learned early and well what a hair’s breadth difference in vowel or inflection could make to your social acceptance or even survival on the school playground.



Country Mouse to Town Mouse


But now I could attend the London theatres! I saw Laurence Olivier as Halvard Solness in The Master Builder and as Othello! I thrilled to the information that he trained for six months with voice coaches to deepen his voice by an entire octave for Othello; his virtuosity on his vocal instrument galvanized me.

My new London school, Wandsworth Comprehensive, an all-boys school, had a precocious theatre program that was very political though I didn’t realize it then. I instantly embraced it and was cast as a little old lady in Jaroslav Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk and the old restauranteur in Arnold Wesker’s The Kitchen–extraordinary choices for a high school! After other roles, in my final year we teamed up with the local all-girls school for Romeo and Juliet, playing our own genders for the first time in the two schools’ histories. Being very interested in girls, I was pleased, as Romeo, to be kissed by a female Juliet. The head of the drama program at the girls’ school was a graduate of the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama; she suggested I audition there. It was the only drama school I tried for.



My Training


They have since dropped the old “of Speech and Drama” in favor of “of Theatre and Performance,” but the training at Bru’s, as that illustrious institution has always been known, was heavily biased toward the spoken word during my time: voice and speech daily for three years; verse-speaking almost as often; phonetics (compulsory the first year and an elective thereafter); and radio drama as well as acting, directing, etc. I am a product of that curriculum, no doubt.

Miss Greta Stevens (bless her) turned me on to phonetics in a very big way and shepherded a small group of us all the way to the IPA Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in the Phonetics of English. I spent a wholly disproportionate part of my three years at college listening to the huge old 78 r.p.m. LPs that Daniel Jones (then in his 80s) had produced in 1956 to demonstrate his “cardinal vowels.” It’s a testament to Miss Stevens that we all passed, and, by dint of my particular obsession with the subject, that I was the highest scorer of all who took the exam that year world-wide.

When Eric Armstrong told me in the late 1990s that he thought he could design an online interactive chart of the IPA if I would voice the symbols, I remembered my labors over Jones’ cumbersome old discs and knew for sure I was now on the threshold of a new century.[2] Had you told me in 1968 that I would eventually create a demonstration of the International Phonetic Alphabet in the form of something called an “app” that you could read and listen to on a pocket-sized device called an “iPhone,” I would not have believed you, of course. But there it is on the App Store. Astonishing that such things are possible!

So much of theatre is wonderfully unquantifiable, unmeasurable, and numinous. That excites me. But I also thrilled to the promise of phonetics as bringing scientific precision to bear. Phonetics showed me that just as a gram, a second, or an inch are absolute and incontrovertible with an eternal verity about them, so cardinal vowels are the same from age to age, allowing us to describe with gratifying exactitude how such and such a person pronounced his or her words, on this or that particular occasion.

Miss Mona Swann, born 1894, was the best verse-speaker and teacher of verse-speaking at Bru’s, in my opinion. Her simple, unaffected, truthful reading of poetry, had an unostentatious power that captivated me. As well as verse-speaking, there was a strong tradition of choral-speaking at the school, and it influenced me tremendously. Miss Swann is almost entirely to blame in that, some twenty years, later I directed a (partly) chorally spoken Romeo and Juliet with seven men and seven women. In addition to his or her own principal role, each actor took a turn at the title roles (cross-gender too), but the balcony scene was chorally spoken by all 14 actors (identically costumed and masked as Romeo or Juliet). You would hear a single voice here and there, double voices and triples at other times, and all 14 actors together for the moments I wanted to be special. It was definitely an unusual approach. Audiences either loved it or loathed it.

Bru’s had an “elocutionary” approach to our training. We were to speak RP all day, every day. You would not get your diploma if you had not mastered it. “If you can’t speak RP,” so the reasoning went, “You will never get a job in the theatre!” So all 50 of us in my class–Jamaicans, Geordies, Irish, Brummies, Scousers, and Welsh alike – were exorcized of our native accents as though they were evil spirits. Bru’s had not yet caught up with “kitchen-sink” realism that calls for plenty of regional dialects; I don’t think Look Back in Anger or any of the so-called “angry young men” plays of the 50s and 60s were ever produced during my time at college, though perhaps I am maligning my alma mater. It seems to me now that, at my drama school, theatre meant well-written texts from earlier and politer times that demanded well-spoken actors. Miss Bruford herself – principal for only my first year before she retired – seemed to me to embody a denial of Britain’s loss of empire; Bru wanted us to keep that culture alive for her. But setting aside my historical-hindsight lenses for a moment and judging my training by the “form and pressure of the time,” it was altogether an amazing actor (and teacher) training school, and I am hugely grateful to it. I am thrilled to have been honored recently with a fellowship.

I went from Bru’s directly to the University of Kent at Canterbury. A degree in English Lit was a much-needed counterbalance to the skill-training of drama school. I learned critical thinking and literary analysis, sometimes the weak link in an actor’s training. Martin Scofield was one of my tutors, and I got to work with his famous dad, Sir Paul, a few years later at the BBC. Tom Wilkinson was one of my circle there, and his friendship has meant a lot to me and my career.[3]

My wife, Marilyn, and I had already been married for a couple of years by that point, just teenagers when we found each other. She is a Californian by birth, a Kentuckian by upbringing, but courtesy of her English mum (a “war bride” who fell for a handsome G.I. from Missouri), she is a Brit by instinct.



A New World


There can be no more valuable experience for actors, I believe, than to live outside their native culture long enough to look back at it and see it for what it is: one culture among many. I count myself both blessed and cursed in that regard: blessed because I can see my inherited values and behaviors objectively, and cursed in that I am forever inter-cultural – not truly belonging (in a tribal sense) to any culture. Brits now consider me as American, and Americans assume I am British.

After Canterbury, we moved back to Marilyn’s home town in Kentucky to sponge off her parents until we got on our feet. My first real job was as an English and Drama teacher at Ballard Memorial High School in tiny LaCenter, Kentucky. (With a population of only a thousand and contrary to its name, it is the center of nothing, except perhaps an indigenous kindness.) In my preposterous, youthful naiveté, I chose to direct, as the junior play that semester, Arthur Wing Pinero’s 1893 drama, The Second Mrs. Tanqueray. Amid the tobacco fields of Western Kentucky, I must have thought I was bringing British culture to the colonies! Miss Bruford would have been proud. I adored my brief time there. They indulged my youthful silliness.

Alas, I repaid their kindness very poorly, teaching only one semester there before Leslie Hunt, a Bru’s alum, then head of Voice and Speech at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, got the green light to hire an assistant. She had learned that I (a fellow alum) was in the country and had my green card, and so, on the strength of those qualifications alone (I suspect), hired me.

My four years at NCSA taught me a lot. Grappling with my mandate to teach something they called Standard American Stage Speech and to teach it to all students regardless of color or geographical origin, I began my journey to the dialect coach I later became. (I was helped by Jerry Blunt’s Stage Dialects, which I loved. It was published in 1967, so I must have been one of its first fans.) I concluded that actors needed their country’s so-called standard pronunciation simply as one dialect among many in their repertoire, not as the prescribed norm the way RP had figured in my own training. They must be able to don other cultures like costumes, and wear them with ease, confidence, and authenticity. The study of dialects, I believe, provides the ultimate opportunity to an actor to throw off the shackles of his or her own culture and inhabit another, learning how to shoulder the noble responsibility of teaching the world about our fellow travelers.



Radio-Drama Days 


Still only 26 but with a teaching post at a famous American drama school on my résumé, I needed to find out if I could actually practice what I preached and work professionally as an actor myself. So it was back to London with Marilyn and our new son, Cameron, who was later to play such an important role in the family enterprises.

I was instantly lucky. The BBC seemed to like me. My years as a member of the famous BBC Drama Repertory Company (The Drama Rep) confirmed my love of voice acting, and I was in more than a hundred radio-drama productions. (Yes, I did some stage, television, and film, but voice acting was my passion.) Working for the Beeb was a cross between weekly rep and Hollywood’s studio system. Play as cast; pick up your week’s scripts from your pigeonhole on Monday. The Rep in those days was large – 50 men and women strong, as I recall.[4]

In addition to  playing in all-Rep shows, I and my colleagues supported guest stars such as Richard Burton, Peggy Ashcroft, Flora Robson, Paul Scofield, Alec McCowen, and Derek Jacobi. What a privilege! And what a learning experience for a young actor. I will never forget Paul Scofield at our read-through of Archibald MacLeish’s The Great American Fourth of July Parade. His cold read lifted the text straight off the page, into his brain, and rebirthed it through his mouth in a way that left mine hanging open! How did he do that? I want to do that! That memory has guided me ever since in my own performance, teaching, and coaching.

I am so thankful that my mother (she read Dickens aloud to her small sons) lived long enough to hear my own first work as an actor on the BBC – Of Mice and Men, a BBC Book at Bedtime, in 1976. Book at Bedtime is still running; an actor reads a 15-minute section of a novel every night until finished. That art form, creating voices for all the characters, is what we now know as audiobooks; I’ve done about 50 of those since then.



Moonlighting at RADA


During this time, I defied the Beeb’s exclusivity clause that forbade outside employment – how could you do otherwise on a paltry fifty-six quid a week? – and moonlighted as a voice-over artist and as voice, speech, and dialect instructor at many of the London drama schools: Webber-Douglas, Drama Studio, Mountview, LAMDA, RADA, etc. I remember a very fancy innovation I introduced at RADA: teaching dialects language-lab style, with individual booths and headphones. (The students listening to my pre-recorded dialect instruction and recording their imitations of my exercises.)

Just over twenty years later, thanks to little inventions like the personal computer and the internet, I was marketing the same approach online through my own company. Without the encouragement of Hugh Cruttwell, the kind and erudite man who was RADA’s principal and who brought me onto the faculty in the late 1970s, none of that would have happened. We always kept in touch thereafter.

In later years, Hugh championed my Voicing Shakespeare. He also introduced me to many of RADA’s famous alums, whom I interviewed for my Shakespeare research. I remember Juliet Stevenson talking to me about “coining the text” (John Barton’s term), and “finding and exploiting the antitheses,” as two of the most valuable ideas she got from her time with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Kenneth Branagh talked to me about speed and agility in delivering the text. I published With Utter Clarity as a result of that interview and my few days on the set during the filming of his uncut Hamlet. There is nothing better than asking great actors how they achieve their compelling performances.



Back to the New World Again 


My “journey to now” then took a detour back to America.

I spent two years touring the country with a one-man show I called AD 65. This is an idea I stole from Alec McCowen: delivering the entire Gospel of St. Mark as the thrilling first-person narrative it actually is, at theatres, schools, prisons, military bases, and for television.

And I was appointed as the first professional artistic and executive director at the Market House Theatre, the community theatre in my wife’s home town, Paducah, Kentucky. What little I know about business administration and promotion I learned in my few years in that position. Shameless nepotism: Cameron was Tiny Tim, Snoopy, and Puck; Marilyn was Mabel Osbourne in The Spoon River Anthology.

Several artist-in-residence positions at universities followed, giving me the taste for academic life that led (very happily) to the University of Kansas as the theatre department’s voice and speech specialist. I liked it so well I stayed for 29 years, retiring as a full professor in 2017.

It was a great berth. In this respected “Research One” university, I discovered that what was called moonlighting in my BBC days was not only not against the rules but was actively encouraged. They call it “publication and research.” In fact, a professor couldn’t get tenure without a “national or international reputation,” which meant working outside the ivory tower of academe. Well, that was fine by me, though I never short-changed my students, whom I adored; I taught voice and speech, voice-over, dialects, and Shakespeare performance, and directed or coached eighty productions there. But if the university had not insisted that 40 percent of my contractual efforts be in publication and off-campus creative work, I might not have written my books and articles, worked as Associate Editor for Pedagogy and Coaching for this publication, founded Paul Meier Dialect Services and the International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA), voiced audiobooks, nor dialect-coached more than three hundred films and plays. It’s been a great ride.



A Good “Idea”


When I entered the profession, many actors seemed to learn their accents by copying this or that actor in this or that film. (I know I did.) And the actors we copied had sometimes learned their accents the same way, presumably. In the absence of the resources we enjoy today, a self-referential and incestuous method like this is understandable. But by 1998, the internet had become clever enough (and enough people were using it) that an online archive of real-life people from all over the world speaking English in their own accents and dialects became a possibility. And, for actors, that meant they could more easily hold the “mirror up to nature,” rather than rely on theatrical clichés.

As I recount in my book Accents & Dialects for Stage and Screen (2010), in 1998 I had just returned from Hawaii, where I had been summoned with only three days’ notice, to coach the wonderful Australian actor, David Wenham, as Father Damien — the Belgian priest who gave his life to the Hawaiian lepers exiled to Moloka’i in 1866.[5] Luckily, I was familiar with the Flemish accent that Damien spoke, for I certainly had no time to gather recordings of primary samples. I thought then: Wouldn’t it be marvelous if there was an online archive where you hear real people from all parts of the globe reading a standard passage in English and speaking extemporaneously in their own accents and dialects? Wouldn’t it be great to find half a dozen real people as the models for your current role? I talked it over with a computer-wiz student of mine, Shawn Muller, who told me about a brand-new audio file format called the “mp3” that we could use to build exactly what I had in mind.[6] Adding Douglas N. Honorof’s wonderful, phonetically rich elicitation passage, Comma Gets a Cure, the International Dialects of English Archive was born. (Doug based the passage on J.C. Wells’ “standard lexical sets,” another major influence on my work, facilitating my analysis of accents and dialects into “signature sounds,” as I call them. John’s gift to us all through his book, Accents of English, dominates dialect coaches’ discourse.)

Thanks to Janet Rodgers’ enthusiastic support–she was VASTA President at the time – I was able to persuade a lot of my VASTA colleagues to become associate editors; I hope they are all reading this because I treasure their contributions and what we have created together. We recorded, documented, and submitted voice and text files to build up the archive to the nearly 1,400 samples (and growing almost daily) that the archive now boasts, twenty years later, and which are accessed more than three million times a year by researchers in all fields and disciplines. There are nearly a hundred editors today. I want to single out for special thanks the four VASTA colleagues designated senior editors by virtue of the exceptional number and quality of their submissions. They are, at the time of writing, Eric Armstrong, Geraldine Cook, John Fleming, and David Nevell.

Thanks to Cameron, who has served as IDEA’s Executive Editor for several years now, the archive will survive me. Dylan Paul, a former student of mine, of whom you will be hearing a great deal more now he has added professor of voice and speech to his impressive credentials as an actor, is our webmaster and special consultant. He radically redesigned Shawn Muller’s wonderful original website.



Becoming a Metricist 


I had not been extensively trained in poetic meter nor the art of scansion; my real introduction to it was through Roger Gross. He was a visiting speaker to my university from his, the University of Arkansas, during my early days in Kansas. Listening to Roger, I instantly saw a huge gap in my knowledge. I embraced the discipline instantly, like a lover. The idea that Shakespeare took the keyboard of the iambic pentameter and conjured from it a wider range of music than anyone before or since, and moment-to-moment and character-to-character, could wring such infinite variety from the simple, ten-syllable verse-line, was a revelation that astonishes me to this day. I never tire of working to discover the playwright’s hidden instructions, embedded and encoded metrically in the text. Roger started me down that path. He died in 2017 on Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23. He was 86. Rest well, Roger, and thank you.

I worked off and on for the next 23 years on my own how-to book, Voicing Shakespeare, only publishing it in 2013 when embedding sound and video in the text of ebooks became easy enough. I believed that the nuances of meter and prosody could never be adequately conveyed in text alone, though many had succeeded more than I ever could. Sister Miriam Joseph’s ([1947] 2013) Shakespeare’s Use of the Arts of Language influenced me greatly, as did John Barton’s (2001) Playing Shakespeare (though we also had the benefit of the video tapes of the Thames Television series that came first). George Wright’s (1991) Shakespeare’s Metrical Art and J.L. Styon’s (1979) Shakespeare’s Stagecraft (where he talks of the two traditions – rhetorical and psychological – that classical actors must embrace) are additional works that have informed my thinking profoundly.

For Voicing Shakespeare, I am grateful to the seventeen actors who joined me in recording speeches for the ebook.[7]



Two Cautionary Tales


I have two Shakespeare’s meter stories. They both impart the same moral.

The first concerns John Barton. Having deified him years earlier, I finally met him in his flat, a stone’s throw from Broadcasting House in London. I was on sabbatical leave researching Shakespeare performance. The salutary thing from this encounter was that, although I had expected (as his disciple) to hear the god confirm and amplify his teachings from Playing Shakespeare, Barton seemed to disavow all his gospel’s tenets, and I went away a sadder but wiser little scholar. I learned the important lesson that, even as, for adherents, doctrine turns to dogma turns to death, it does so too for the master at whose feet they worship. The wisest adherents and the wisest teachers must both learn to hold the truth lightly, I believe. Hold it too tightly and you kill it.

Second: my Mark Rylance story. Either on that same sabbatical leave or perhaps another, Mark, then Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe on London’s South Bank, had invited me to give a verse-speaking workshop there. He and a dozen or so of the company attended. I remember talking about Friar Lawrence and (as I do in Voicing Shakespeare) pointing out the neat symmetry and rhythm of the Friar’s opening speech: “The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night.” I referred them to the Friar’s neat rhyming couplets, his almost entirely end-stopped lines, and the absolutely text-book regularity of his aphoristic verse. I told the group that, for me, this regularity is emblematic of the character’s complacent, cosmological certitude. I showed how the congruence of the character’s meter gradually disintegrates during the arc of his journey toward the play’s final tragic end. How amazing, I exclaimed, to have the clues to the character’s development so cleverly suggested metrically. And all we have to do, as actors, is decode those clues in the speaking of the verse! Well, I don’t think I had a friend in the room. They seemed to dismiss meter and scansion as academic irrelevance. I don’t really know to this day what Mark himself believes; I do know that he has worked very successfully with director Tim Carroll (Twelfth Night, Richard III), with whom I did an OP workshop at the Stratford Festival in Ontario and who follows the late Peter Hall in his insistence on metrical observance. And I also know that Mark Rylance has given us some of the most distinguished performances of his generation, but in a way that, perhaps, simply transcends meter: a caution to us all that there are a million right ways to get the job done.



Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation


Although I had heard John Barton demonstrating original pronunciation years earlier, I only completely tuned into the OP movement in 2005 when I picked up a copy of David Crystal’s (2005) Pronouncing Shakespeare at the Shakespeare Bookshop across the street from the Bard’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. It was Crystal’s account of the previous year’s experiment at the Globe. (One weekend out of their run of Romeo and Juliet was devoted to performances in OP under his instruction.)

     Pronouncing Shakespeare transported me back to the late 16th century and magically restored Shakespeare’s Warwickshire vowels to my ears. For me, this liberated “good speech” from its corsets and wholly redefined it. I knew instantly that this was something I must be part of. It was the bridge between my two great loves: Shakespeare and dialects. I was determined to meet David Crystal and eventually to direct and coach an OP production myself.

My first step was to invite him to give a day-long masterclass in OP when I returned to Stratford in 2007 to continue my work at the Shakespeare Institute. He was a huge hit, especially with me! He and I began that summer to plot our OP production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which we brought about in November 2010 at the University of Kansas.

For the actors, we produced a phonetic transcription of the play in OP. That text with David’s embedded recordings is freely available online.[8] Based on Crystal’s research, I also published The Original Pronunciation of Shakespeare’s English (2010). A very fine film was made of the production, as well as a radio-drama version that I directed with the original cast shortly after the stage run.[9] I published A Midsummer Night’s Dream: An Original Pronunciation Production in this journal. I have since coached other Shakespeare titles in OP and continue to advise and write on the topic. I am glad to see that other VASTA colleagues, like David Alan Stern and Jim Johnson, have since become experts too; I am sure there are others who have also taken up the torch. Since David Crystal published The Oxford Dictionary Of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation, the job of OP dialect coaches has become a great deal easier.

Isn’t it wonderful how synergistic our experiences are? Each area of one’s work informs every other. OP, coming comparatively late in my career, rippled through everything else that interests me about the spoken word.

I retired from my university professorship in 2017, but my private practice and my work with IDEA continues unabated. I plan to work until I drop, and I look forward to long and happy collaborations with my VASTA colleagues for as much of the future as is left to me.



My Familial Ship-Mates


I cannot close without expanding on the huge part played in my journey by my family. Marilyn and Cameron, my wife and son, have had their own journeys, of course, but mine has been no solo voyage. Having them on board has brought real joy into my life. They have shaped me, and we have charted our course together.

Not only did Marilyn — my wife of 50 years — put me through college and not only has she managed Paul Meier Dialect Services with business acumen and wisdom (refusing a title and infusing our work with the ideal of service), but she also is solely responsible for my view of theatre as essentially a holy enterprise, in the Grotowskian sense. She has been a questor after spiritual truth all her life, and I joined the quest, applying the mysteries to my theatrical paradigm.

And Cameron, an integral part of the little family business — who edits all my writing, including this essay — is a movie critic and historian of repute, whose encyclopedic knowledge and exquisite aesthetic sensibilities have shaped my own.[10]

My deepest thanks and admiration go to them both.

I leave you, appropriately, with my voice: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116–in OP, of course.

Imagine I’m speaking directly to you, the reader, about the love we share (the love of poetic language) and of the “impediments” to that love exerted by shifting societal values.



Let me not to the marriage of true minds

lɛt mɪ nɑt tə ðə maɹjəd͡ʒ ə tɹu̹ məɪndz

Admit impediments. Love is not love

ədmɪt ɪmpɛdəmənts | lɤv ɪz nɑt lɤv

Which alters when it alteration finds,

ʍɪt͡ʃ ɑɫtə˞z ʍɛn ɪt ɑɫtəɹɛːsɪən fəɪndz

Or bends with the remover to remove.

ə˞ bɛnds wɪ ðə ɹɪmɤmə˞ tə ɹɪmɤv

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark

o noː | ɪt ɪz ən ɛvə˞ fɪksɪd ma˞k

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

ðət lʊks ɑn tɛmpəsts ənd ɪz nɛvə˞ ʃɛːkn̩

It is the star to every wand’ring bark,

ɪt ɪz ðə sta˞ tu̹ ɛvɹəɪ wɑndɹɪn ba˞k

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

u̹z wɐ˞θs ɤnnoːn ɑɫðoː ɪz əɪt bɪ tɛːkn̩

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

lɤvz nɑt təɪmz fʊɫ ðo ɹoːzəɪ lɪps n̩ t͡ʃeːks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

wɪðɪn ɪz bɛndɪn sɪkɫz kɤmpəs kɤm

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

lɤv ɑltə˞z nɑt wɪð ɪz bɹef o˞ːz n̩ weːks

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

bət bɛ˞ːz ɪt əʊt eːn tə ðɪ ɛd͡ʒ ə dɤm

If this be error and upon me prov’d,

ɪf ðɪs bɪ ɛɹə˞ ən əpɑn mɪ pɹɤvd

I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

ə nɛvə˞ ɹɪt nə˞ noː man ɛvə˞ lɤvd






Barton, John. 2001. Playing Shakespeare: An Actor’s Guide. Norwell, MA: Anchor Press.

Blunt, Jerry. 1967. Stage Dialects. Woodstock, Ill: Dramatic Pub. Co.

Crystal, David. 2005. Pronouncing Shakespeare: The Globe Experiment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Crystal, David. 2016. The Oxford Dictionary Of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Joseph, Miriam. (1947) 2013. Shakespeare’s Use of the Arts of Language. Eastford, CT: Martino Fine Books.

Meier, Paul. 2010. Accents & Dialects for Stage and Screen. Lawrence, KS: Paul Meier Dialect Services.

Meier, Paul. 2013. Voicing Shakespeare. Lawrence, KS: Paul Meier Dialect Services.

Meier, Paul. 2010. The Original Pronunciation of Shakespeare’s English. Lawrence, KS: Paul Meier Dialect Services.

Meier, Paul. 2011. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: An Original Pronunciation Production.” Voice and Speech Review. Vol. 7, Iss1. 2011.

Meier, Paul. 1997. “Kenneth Branaghː With Utter Clarity. An Interview.” The Drama Review. Vol. 41, Iss. 2. 1997/

Styon, J.L. 1979. Shakespeare’s Stagecraft. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wells, J.C. 1996. Accents of English 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wright, George T. 1991. Shakespeare’s Metrical Art. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.





[1] The BBC Genome Project lists all the programs listed in The Radio Times since it began publication in 1923 shortly after the BBC began broadcasting. My search for The Grey Room began at , which led to providing a first broadcast date of December 26, 1957, and other production details.

[2] Both Eric and I host free versions of the IPA Interactive Charts on our respective websites, his at and mine at An app for iPhone or iPad is also available at All these versions include one extra chart, demonstrating diphthongs and triphthongs in both American and British English pronunciation.

[3] Tom Wilkinson (Geoff as he was then) did his training in reverse to mine. He started at university and then went on to drama school (RADA.) I coached him in Ride with the Devil, Ang Lee’s Civil War masterpiece, and later in Molokai: The Story of Father Damien. I have also coached Diana Hardcastle, Tom’s wife, in several stage plays, and film projects, notably as Rose Kennedy in The Kennedys, the TV miniseries.

[4] As you will read at, “The Rep” was founded in the first year of World War II, and “rather than risk the danger of traversing London during a time of frequent air raids, the group of actors that made up the Rep could camp out in the stronghold that was Broadcasting House’s concert hall…and be on call show after show.”

[5] The film, Molokai: The Story of Father Damien, also starred Peter O’Toole, Tom Wilkinson, Derek Jacobi, Sam Neill, and Chris Kristofferson. The film was shot entirely on location, principally in Kalaupapa, the former “leper colony” where Damien worked, and where he eventually contracted leprosy (now known as Hansen’s Disease) himself and died.

[6] The MP3 (or mp3,) developed circa 1991, was an innovation that allowed for hugely compressed audio files to be created, and swiftly transmitted because of their relatively small size. Online audio archives, like IDEA, would not have been feasible without this kind of compression.

[7] Of the 17 players who joined me in Voicing Shakespeare, many were VASTA members: Eric Armstrong (who seems to have been part of my journey at every turn), Geraldine Cook, Phil Hubbard, Flloyd Kennedy, Dudley Knight, Marina Tyndall, Susan Wilder, and Elizabeth Wiley. Thank you, friends.

[8] The script, phonetically transcribed by Paul Meier, his students, Amy Virginia Buchanan and Chris McGillivray, and under David Crystal’s editorship, and with Crystal’s recordings of the entire text embedded, may be freely downloaded from

[9] Films Media Group now distributes the video, see The radio drama version may be downloaded from CD Baby at Sales of both productions exclusively benefit the theatre department at the University of Kansas.

[10] Cameron Meier is Vice-President of Paul Meier Dialect Services, and Executive Director of IDEA. His website,, publishes his hundreds of film reviews and articles.