Dialect Coach Brings Characters’ Accents to Life

Abigail LanghamInflections and enunciations on stage can make or break a performance at the Clarence Brown Theatre. Abigail Langham’s work helps UT actors bring a character’s accent to life.

Langham, assistant professor of vocal production in the Department of Theatre, is a trained actress and vocal coach who recently brought her talents to UT.

This academic year, she has coached actors in productions of The Miracle Worker, A Christmas Carol and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“Working in the Theatre Department at UT is wonderful,” Langham said. “I am surrounded by talented and dedicated students and am fortunate enough to be working with colleagues who have worked across the creative industries at the highest professional level for many years.”

Growing up in Wolverhampton, England, Langham made her way to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to pursue her dreams of becoming a professional actress. It was during her postgraduate training at the Royal Academy of Music in London that she noticed she had a knack for voice and speech.

“I was convinced I wanted to be on the stage,” she said. “I worked professionally as an actor for a number of years. I performed across the UK and worked at a number of well-known theaters for example, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Southwark Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe, Steppenwolf Chicago, the Bridewell Theatre, Opera Holland Park, and the Wyndhams Theatre.”

Realizing that being a full-time actor made her uncomfortable because of the uncertainty, she decided to re-focus her career and trained to teach voice and speech at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London.

After receiving her master’s degree in speech, she landed a job as the head of voice at Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and taught there for four years.

Before crossing the pond and coming to Knoxville, Langham managed her own freelance coaching business, speaksmart, and assisted in coaching actors for the UK television series Peaky Blinders which is now on Netflix. She has worked on a feature film and coached at the Old Vic Theater where actor Kevin Spacey is the artistic director.

She came to work at UT in 2014.

So how many accents does Langham really know?

“I don’t know the exact number of accents I can speak in, but a fair few,” she said. “Naming a favorite is impossible. The intriguing thing about accent and dialect is that sound and language are always evolving so there are always new discoveries to be made.”

CONTACT:

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lalapo@utk.edu)