I’m currently coaching my University of Houston students in our production of Cripple of Inishmaan, and a number of the students in the production are in my dialects class in their junior year, so I’m adapting what I usually teach in the class.
Normally I focus on the accents of the north of Ireland, including the accents of Northern Ireland and Donegal. Part of why I focus on this Irish accent is that it’s not what most people think of when they think of an Irish accent, so it’s less familiar to them. Usually people think of a Cork or Southern Irish accent when they think of Irish – the “Lucky Charms” accent.
I actually chose to teach them ALL Irish accents at once and let them choose. Yeah, well, it’s an experiment.
The surprise is that they chose a variety of accents, and it’s going surprisingly well! The four class members who are in Cripple chose the accent of the western part of Ireland (Galway, Sligo) for their pieces, which is roughly what we’re using for Cripple of Inishmaan accents. The rest of the class, however, is spread out into the other accents.
One student chose the Southern Irish – Western Irish is a bit like Southern-lite. A number of them chose Northern – and one more chose the Dublin accent of Eastern Ireland, which is much like doing Northern-lite.
It’s all still in the experimental phase, but it seems to be working well! They’re getting a sense of the variations in Irish accents, and because I have them try out elements of each accent, they’re getting the exposure to the challenges of Northern Irish that I always shoot for while also getting to deal with the “opposite” challenges in Southern – and then doing a more subtle version of each for the east and west.
Final showings in a couple of days will tell the tale…