DRA2096 - Voices Across Stage and Screen

2022/3 Module description

StaffDr Konstantinos Thomaidis - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module description

This module explores voice in theatrical performance, film and television—as well as in hybrid practices at the borders of these artistic forms: intermedial performance, sound art or musical theatre adaptations between stage and screen. From speaking and singing to voicer-over, playback and soundtrack, you will investigate the multiple ways in which voices appear across media and platforms. In particular, you will consider how technical aspects of voicing affect and are affected by the sociocultural and historical contexts of voice, sound and music. Techniques examined in the module will include live projection, accent work, screaming, whispering, technological amplification, post-production processing, looping, splicing, dubbing and lipsynching, among others. You will interrogate how, in such instances, voice performs individual and collective identity and how it intersects with socio-political discourses on gender, race, ethnicity and disability.

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • Introduce you to key definitions and conceptualisations of voice;
  • Explore the role of voice in a wide array of contemporary stage and screen media;
  • Help you gain a deeper understanding of a range of vocal techniques (singing, amplification, dubbing, lipsynching, soundtrack, playback, among others);
  • Offer you the theoretical tools to analyse voice as a metaphor and embodiment of socio-political discourses on identity and politics;
  • Situate contemporary vocal practice within current scholarly debates and historical lineages of practice;
  • Encourage discussion, individual and group research, small-scale performative experimentation (presentation) and writing on voice in film, television and theatre.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Understand key contemporary practices of voice across media and identify the techniques embedded in their making and performance.
  • 2. Demonstrate a sound grasp of the socio-political discourses with which voice intersects, and produce theoretically informed oral and written analysis.
  • 3. Analyse selected examples of vocal practice in theatre, film, television and intermedial performance.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Contribute research to small groups in effective presentations, to evaluate visual evidence and analyse, critique and manipulate complex material.
  • 5. Apply library and IT skills in independent additional research.
  • 6. Explore theoretical concerns and synthesise findings in practical and written tasks.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Develop personal research skills using personal initiative; to set personal objectives and to identify and evaluate personal learning strategies.
  • 8. Develop group cooperation skills, including the ability to give and receive constructive critical feedback and to improve communication skills and analytic abilities in discussions.
  • 9. Develop confidence in the public presentation of researched material.
  • 10. Balance between self-direction and collaborative work; self-management, collaborative working skills, problem solving, critical analysis and valuing own and others’ ideas and beliefs.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Adapting speech and song across media
  • Cutting, editing, multiplying and amplifying voices
  • Ways of listening to voice as music, language and sonic material
  • Mimicry, impersonation, lipsynching and the celebrity voice
  • Ventriloquism, playback, dubbing and ghost singers
  • The ‘authentic voice’ in verbatim theatre, documentary film and singing talent shows
  • Voices without bodies: voice-over narrators, headphone guides, machinic, artificial and synthesised voices
  • Ensemble voicing and choral vocality in TV and film
  • Accent work, ethnicity and racialised listening
  • Gendering the voice on stage and screen
  • Disability and dysfluency across audiovisual media
  • Interspecies vocalization and humanimals that speak and sing in theatre, film and TV

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching33Mixed-mode seminar activities (including staff-led lectures, discussions, tasks) (Example breakdown of hours: Lectures 11 hours, Discussions 14 hours, Tasks 8 hours)
Guided independent study267Weekly preparation, incl. assigned readings and required viewings of films, TV shows or recorded performances; Presentation pitch and small-group presentation research, rehearsal and preparation; Online forum contribution research and writing; Essay research, preparation and writing

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Presentation PitchUp to 10 minutes1-4, 6, 8-10Oral feedback by peers and tutor Audio-recorded feedback by tutor
Online Forum Contributions3 contributions of up to 300 words each, at designated points in the term1-3, 5-7, 10Audio-recorded or written feedback by tutor

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Small-Group Presentation of 20 minutes per student4040-60 minutes1-4, 6, 8-10Written feedback
Essay603000 words1-3, 5-7, 10Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Small-Group PresentationIndividual portfolio of up to 2000 words (including short audio presentation)1-3, 5-7, 9-10Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay (3000 words)1-3, 5-7, 10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • Chion, M. 1994. Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Chion, M. 1999. The Voice in Cinema. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Connor, S. 2000. Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism. Oxford: OUP.
  • Fisher, D. 2016. The Voice and Its Doubles: Media and Music in Northern Australia. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
  • Honess Roe, A. and Pramaggiore, M. (eds). 2018. Vocal Projections: Voices in Documentary. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Indraganti, K. 2016. Her Majestic Voice: South Indian Female Playback Singers and Stardom, 1945-1955. Oxford: OUP.
  • Johnson, J. 2013. ‘The Visualization of the Twisted Tongue: Portrayals of Stuttering in Film, Television, and Comic Books’. In: C. Eagle (ed.). Literature, Speech Disorders and Disability. New York: Routledge. pp.162-174.
  • Karpf, A. 2006. The Human Voice: The Story of a Remarkable Talent. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Moten, F. 2003. In the Break: The Aesthetics of Black Radical Tradition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Neumark, N., Gibson, R. and van Leeuwen, T. (eds). 2010. Voice: Vocal Aesthetics in Digital Arts and Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Sjogren, B. 2006. Into the Vortex: Female Voice and Paradox in Film. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.
  • Silverman, K. 1988. The Acoustic Mirror: The Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Snell, M. 2020. Lipsynching. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Stoever, J.L. 2016. The Sonic Color Line: Race & the Cultural Politics of Listening. New York: New York University Press.
  • Stuart, M. 2019. ‘“Easy listening”: Altered Auditory Feedback and dysfluent speech’, Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies, 4:1, pp. 7-19.
  • Thomaidis, K. 2017. Theatre & Voice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Thomaidis, K. and Macpherson, B. (eds). 2015. Voice Studies: Critical Approaches to Process, Performance and Experience. London and New York: Routledge.

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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Key words search

Voice; Theatre; Performance; Film; TV

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