★★★  Inter Act  ★★★
with
Claire Jones
Claire Jones
photographed by Terry Blake
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1
Emma:
Do you think people are born funny?
Claire:
Sometimes you hear of people having ‘funny bones’ but I think a lot of someone's sense of humour can come from their family and friends' dynamic and their upbringing. My family and friends all enjoy banter. My dad believes no one is safe from having the mick taken out of them and that everyone should be treated equal in that sense. I’m surrounded by people with very quick, dry humour but also people who enjoy quite base humour as well. (You know who you are!) (We are quite an open family...) Peter Sellers (Pink Panther) is also born on the same day as me so perhaps there is something in that...
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2
Emma:
Is that innate understanding of comedy from a place of tragedy too? What percentage are you?
Claire:
If I have skills and am knowledgeable within the realms of comedy, 50% of it may be due to being shown endless comedy in my formative years, such as Fawlty Towers, Bottom, The Young Ones - and understanding that a lot is about delivery, involving intonation and timing. However I did seem to have the want and need to play the class clown, perhaps as a defence mechanism. I guess it might have been so others would like me and not see me as a threat... which I suppose could be deemed as a little bit tragic. However, I think people who use comedy in this way can also be naturally quite positive people and judge the situation and use it to ‘lighten the mood’ - and out of a want to just make people happy. (It's quite addictive!) But my friends say I’m also funny without realising... (I'm not completely sure that answers the question!) Peter Sellers was also renowned for being extremely funny but also quite a depressive. I think many comedians are, unfortunately.
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3
Emma:
What amuses you?
Claire:
Slapstick humour, base jokes, one-liners, characters, totally inappropriate and unbelievable situations, silliness, extreme situations which push boundaries. What delights me even more is inhibition and confidence. And moments when a metaphorical mirror is being held up to society, for people to find pleasure in seeing relatable, ridiculous characters and moments. I think this brings people together.
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4
Emma:
What voices (acting or singing) make you laugh? Is it the accent, the inflection, the subject matter - or all of them?
Claire:
The Muppets are a prime example that voice is the essence. I have always been fascinated with character and voices and I love accents! The voice also reflects the demeanour and whole persona! There are too many comedians’ voices for me to list - everyone’s is unique and therefore delightful in equal measure!!!!
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5
Emma:
Are actors scared of exploring comedy in their training?
Claire:
I can't speak for all actors but it can be pretty terrifying performing comedy because there is a line: you either make people laugh or you don't. It's very definite in that sense.
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6
Emma:
How can comedy help people to expand their confidence?
Claire:
Performing in any kind of sense, I think, takes guts. I liken it to doing an adrenalin sport or activity. It can feel terrifying before going on stage but afterwards the sense of achievement is extremely rewarding. But specifically making people laugh - for me - is one of the best feelings in the world. Who wouldn't want to make someone’s day better?!? It's a huge confidence boost knowing you have gotten the essence across and people have enjoyed it.
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7
Emma:
You are currently rehearsing some work for Transitions Stage Company, for their writing competition ‘Enter Stage Write’ & ‘Amplify’. As you will be recording at the Birmingham Hippodrome, do you enjoy recording? Do you alter your process?
Claire:
I missed the live element aspect of performing the pieces as the past ‘Enter Stage Write’ audiences have been vocal, energetic and very supportive and I love that. However, I was very lucky to work with director Tonia Daley Campbell and throughout the rehearsal process she gave constant vocal feedback, when we were running the scenes, which was really reassuring and why she is so good! As Tonia is also an actor, she is also able to access the viewpoint of an actor and gives constructive feedback.

We also worked with an amazing film company, Dan Hunt Camera, and the footage looks epic. It's wonderful to have it immortalised! Transitions' previous ‘Enter Stage Write’ events have also been filmed but this time, each short play was filmed like a short film, so there were wonderful camera angles capturing small details that aren't necessarily seen when performing on stage. When filming, I have to adapt my facial expressions... In theatre you need to be big so it transmits to the back of the auditorium but on film, even blinking can look too much.
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8
Emma:
Following on from number 7, do you have a favourite medium i.e. TV, film, live stage or recorded voice work?
Claire:
I will always love the element of performing live. I love the smell of the crowd. Ha! Their reactions, intakes of breath, the lights, the often black box staging where you can be transported anywhere BUT I also love the pace of TV and film work. I also like that you do smaller takes at a time and that the scene is performed a few times, then it's on to the next - except you have the footage forever!
Emma:
Do you feel that your comedic voice (however you want to take that) suits one more than the other?
Claire:
He he he! Well I do feel that I have grown into my granny brummie voice and I do really enjoy comedy on stage, as I love to be big and bold without limitations! But a lot of the time, I alter my voice to suit the part, often talking in RP (received pronunciation) or with a slight accent.
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9
Emma:
I know that you sing for some of your rôles - do you sing for fun too?
Claire:
Yes! Constantly! And I adore singers that really let rip and let their inhibitions go. I like to feel the energy and passion radiating off a performer, as I know how it feels to give everything you've got! It's like they/we are tapping into a different energy source. Jennifer Hudson, for example, is one of my favourites! She wrings herself out dry, she gives that much!

I love writing musical comedy, so definitely sing for fun. My children constantly tell me to be quiet though. They say I’m too loud!
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10
Emma:
What other work that you do sits well alongside your family and acting demands?
Claire:
For a number of years, I have taught London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in the mediums of Acting, Speaking Verse and Prose, Public Speaking, Musical Theatre and Devising Drama. It fits in very well with my acting work, auditions, self-tapes and having young children. It is extremely rewarding to see how it helps the confidence of the students.

I also do Reiki, which is a type of energy healing and I have found that this holistic method not only really helps my energy levels but also the people that have come to me for a variety of reasons.
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11
Emma:
I think that networking is now even more important than before, to interact again and make great and often surprise connections. Would you agree?
Claire:
Absolutely! I set up Professional Actors Birmingham, which is a free networking resource for local professional actors to use to work with each other on impending auditions and creative projects. At one rehearsal, Natalie Yesufu - the founder of Transition Stage Company - came to view one of our meet ups and we got to know each other and, since then, she has employed me in her past 4 productions!
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12
Emma:
How much do you think that physicality in a rôle alters the comic notes in an actor’s voice?
Claire:
I think physicality, facial expression, costume, emotion and imagination all alter the voice. But it's mainly your thoughts and intentions that can give the game away if you haven't found the objective within the line.

But physicality is extremely fun to play around with! Say for instance a character is uptight, then that would definitely come out in the voice. I have always impersonated people. Taking on their voice, physicality and facial expression is really fun and changes how you feel! I could literally do a whole workshop on how physicality alters the voice!
....and so I shall be asking Claire to offer us exactly that in our next workshop - highly recommended! Never more did we all need a laugh and her wonderful skills bring out the humour in things in seconds.

My huge thanks to Claire for her joyous and candid answers - and a snapshot into her fascinating life.
Claire Jones
photographed by Terry Blake
Claire has a YouTube channel and web site:

YouTube channel

Web site: www.clairejonesactor.com


Also, if you join her on the following social media platforms, then she will follow you back:

Instagram: claire_jones_actor

Twitter: @clairejonesl

TikTok: @clairejonesy


If you are interested in viewing Claire’s past acting experience, then please click on the following Spotlight link:

Spotlight


and, if you are interested in working with Claire, then please contact her agents:

AK Agents

Return to Emma's Voiceblog
13th. October, 2021