Working on Mike Bartlett's, Love Love Love this month. The script is a rich source of linguistic and dialect choices for the actors. The dialogue is composed of varying iterations of EE (Estuary English,) and that’s as it should be. EE is not a standardized dialect.
The time period of the story is one of major social mobility; following the Baby Boomer generation to the present. We hear idealistic teenagers from the 1960s, progressing to marriage, family, divorce, and their children, now in their 40’s, bitterly facing that Brave New World.
After nearly 500 years, EE is still actively spreading across England, both socially and geographically. The name was coined in 1984. Interestingly, there is no “standard” Estuary English dialect. Some sounds are Cockney, some are close to Received Pronunciation (RP.) as are heard in the dialects of Tony Blair, Adele and Ricky Gervais. We hear globalization, the dark “L”, the sound fronting of the “th” phoneme. It is not to be confused with a lower class dialect. One must consider the desire of its speakers to be socially mobile.
In our freshman year at Carnegie Tech, Edith Skinner told us, “Good American Speech is taught to get rid of the most obvious regionalisms that say ‘You’re from here’ ‘I’m from there’.” Speaking the Standard Dialect, in her words, will, "Never let them know what street you grew up on.” Then, as juniors, we learned R.P.
We were not confused. Voice & Speech technique, as a basis for all we speak, is the underpinning for the work of an actor.
Next: More on the importance of technique