FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 30, 2011
Contact: Anika Mitchell Perkins
Theater students work with dialect coach as they prepare for upcoming production
COLUMBUS, Miss. - Sixteen accents and dialects were covered in a workshop offered by Dustin Charles, a dialect coach, who recently worked with about a dozen Mississippi University for Women students.
Charles’ goal was to prepare some of them for roles in the upcoming production of Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap.” He taught dialects and accents ranging from Standard British to Japanese to Deep South.
One-on-one instruction was also offered to students outside the workshop. One of those participants was Mary Wildsmith, a sophomore theater major from Damascus, Md.
She said, “The workshop didn't just provide technical instructions on developing dialects for the stage. He was also able to pass on experienced-based audition tips and advice for using dialects to strengthen acting choices that our students wouldn't have had the opportunity to hear otherwise.”
Charles said, "Student actors are very often daunted by the thought of playing a character with a dialect and will, more often than not, inhibit their own progress with dialect and accent work simply because of fear. I strive to empower my students to inhabit their dialect roles with passion and enthusiasm--to really own the dialect and have fun speaking in it. I break the sounds apart one at a time, and cross reference sounds with other words the students are used to hearing. But more than just building a resume of skills for the theatre, dialect and accent work enriches the students' knowledge and interest in language, global history, culture and communication.
“My hope when I leave here is that these students will have a newfound respect and confidence when performing roles that require a speech pattern that is different from their own, and a fresh way of perceiving communication."
Charles, who began acting in the theater as a child. was born in Flint, Mich., and studied acting at Circle in the Square Theatre school in New York City, later earning his BFA in acting from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. As a stage actor, he has performed a variety of roles with Cortland Repertory Theatre in upstate New York, including the role of Eric in “Unnecessary Farce,” for which he was nominated for a SALT (Syracuse Area Live Theatre) Award for Best Actor of the summer season.
He also has performed with the Cider Mill Playhouse of New York, the John W. Engeman Theatre of LI, Skyline Theatre Company of NJ, Brooklyn Panhandler Productions of NYC and New Stage Theatre in Jackson He also worked as a sketch comedy writer and performer with Stufffilms in NYC. His film credits include “Black Forest,” “Cooking For Richard,” “Gentleman Jack (which can be seen on funnyordie.com)” and the award-winning indie mockumentary “...The Making Of...” Charles can also be seen in the new feature film, “Forged,” starring Manny Perez and Margo Martindale.
As a dialect coach, he has coached productions at Cortland Repertory Theatre, BergenStages of NJ, New Stage Theatre and 4th Wall Theatre on a variety of dialects and accents ranging from Transylvanian to 18th Century Highland Scottish.
He coaches clients privately on dialect work in the city and has taught workshops at Bergen Community College and Middle Tennessee State University. Charles has directed, assistant directed and served as a casting associate for professional theatres.
William “Peppy” Biddy, chair of the Department of Music and Theatre, said, "Each year MUW theatre brings in guest artists to work on productions and teach workshops. We always select an artist/teacher who can offer an expertise to our students other than the areas in which our current faculty instruct. We also let the needs of the current production guide our selection...in this case with `The Mousetrap,’ a dialect coach was the special need and Dustin fit that description perfectly. Past artists included choreographers, costume designers and mask makers."
"The Mousetrap" production is set for Oct. 27-29 and will be held on campus in the Cromwell Black Box Theatre. Tickets can be purchased in advance and are $5 for students and $10 for general admission. Doors open at 7 p.m. and all performances begin at 7:30 p.m.
For more information or questions about tickets, contact The Department of Communication at (662) 329-7354.