WHEN Melbourne actor Fiona Macleod was invited to read for the latest “Readings at the Old Dalyston Deli” event, she was quick to say yes.
She’d recently spent 70 hours recording three novels for Audible, the world’s largest publisher of audiobooks, and relished the work. But she’d read at Dalyston before and she knew that narrating a short 20-minute story to a live Bass Coast audience brought a different kind of pleasure.
Nominated for Green Room awards for her stage work, Fiona appreciates the lure of theatre and film. But she and her colleagues are also aware of the unique satisfactions of book narration. An audience creates a well of silence. The narrator reads into this receptive space. “One of my favourite things I get to do is read stories aloud,” says Fiona.
Not every actor is suited to book narration. It takes work to read well for long periods at a time. Getting the pace, punctuation and breathing right is crucial. Accuracy is essential. Fail to master this and the text will be dead on the page.
There are other skills. Suiting the tone to the story. Creating light and shade. Differentiating character. These bring the story to life. Fiona is a voice artist. “I really enjoy animating stories.”
Actors with a gift for reading aloud are finding more and more work in a booming audiobook industry. Changing technology is making it easier listen to audiobooks and podcasts while commuting or doing other tasks.
A gifted narrator, Coronet Bay resident Stanley McGeagh is a familiar face at “Readings at the Old Dalyston Deli” events. Capping off a career in theatre and film, he has read upwards of 40 audio books for Bolinda Publishing. With a soft Irish brogue in his repertoire, Stanley was personally chosen by Samantha Styne to narrate the memoir of her footballer husband, Jimmy Styne. At Dalyston he will read from Garrison Keilor’s novel Pontoon.
The third of four readers at the upcoming “Readings at the Old Dalyston Deli” is Melbourne actor Katherine Tonkin. Katherine has just finished performing in Three Little Words at the MTC and is currently working on a theatre piece based on the award-winning ABC Classic FM CD Heard This And Thought of You, with classical musicians Genevieve Lacey and James Crabb. For us, Katherine will be reading from Alain de Botton's The Course of Love.
Tom Healey, the fourth reader, has a long history of stage and TV work and is a sought-after director and dramaturg. He has chosen to read “The Story of Jerry and the Dog” from Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story.
Readings at the Old Dalyston Deli is on Wednesday, August 16 from 6.15pm. Four readings, plus dips and nibbles, hearty soup and homemade bread. $30. Bookings and information: email@example.com. Patrons are advised to book early.