Shannon Vickers claims she can do any accent, as long as she takes the time to analyze it. Vickers is an accent coach, working with actors in Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre's latest production, Good People.
The play is set in Boston, in the blue collar neighbourhood of Southie. Vickers says the most salient characteristic of a Boston accent is that it is non-rhotic, meaning the 'r' sound following a vowel is dropped.
"There's also a directness to it," she said. "They sustain their energy right through to the end of the line."
Vickers says there are a number of methods to teaching an accent, depending on the actor's experience and familiarity with phonetics.
"People who have a phonetics background tend to pick up accents extremely quickly because they know the sounds," she said.
As an aid, she compiled a resource page on YouTube (sample below) to help the actors.
She says there are two parts to an accent that work in tandem. One is the sound itself and the other is the prosodic feature, which is the musicality, or rhythm or intonation pattern.
"If people can hear those overriding rhythms, the intonation patterns of the accent, that often goes a long way to getting from 'the accent is good' to 'the accent is amazing,'" she said.
Good People runs at Royal Manitoba Theatre's mainstage until May 10.