Mother/Daughter dialect team

Sonia Fernandez
Behind the Scenes
Jan 22, 2018
Deborah Susel and Jessica Berman

Fred's Diner, written by English Playwright Penelope Skinner, is set in a motorway diner outside of Oxford. We called upon our favorite Mother/Daughter team of dialect coaches to help make our production sound as Oxfordshire-y as possible. I spoke to Jessica Berman and Deb Sussell about their work. 

Can you talk a little about the dialects in Fred's Diner?

Penelope Skinner  sets the play in rural Oxfordshire, and from our research we found that there are many varieties of that dialect. We chose to use, as a model, a man who was born in Oxfordshire, and uses sounds that are earthy and in contrast to the high status English accents we Americans usually hear on Masterpiece Theatre.   

What do you love about coaching dialects?

Researching dialects for plays is such fun for us because it bridges the imaginative aspects of the material with the living sounds of the real people we're using as models.  This helps the actors believe and commit to the reality of the situation and their characters in a visceral way. 

What do we love about working together?

It's so helpful to speak the same language, and we find that the collaboration feels quite creative. 

Where are you two from and what is that dialect called?

Having been born in Philadelphia, Deborah's dialect is an East Coast variant of General American Speech.  Jessica was born in California and has a General American dialect.  We're from a family that loves sound and language and we find that we're influenced by the sounds we hear around us. 


Sonia Fernandez

Recent Blog Posts

Need Directions?