A friend recently posted to Facebook an article from The Guardian that reports how Imogen Stubbs and Edward Kemp of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London find themselves incredibly aggrieved at the mumbling of the current breed of actors trying to study the art and ply their craft. It is a read that is at once infuriating, the intensity of which is mitigated by a couple of interesting points relating the demise of grammar studies in modern education practices to this dreaded mumbling phenomenon. I have to admit I am appalled at the number of Australians I have met who do not know what a noun is. A gerund I could understand. But a NOUN? And most of these people have been people of certain prominence, for example, a university lecturer in Law.
I encourage you to read the Guardian article (hyperlink above), but here's a quote from the article:
[Imogen] Stubbs, who has appeared in scores of stage roles, including the part of Sally Bowles in Cabaret and Desdemona in Othello as well as film and television dramas, added that muttering – with its lack of variety and tonal interest – was perhaps a misguided attempt to imitate American film stars. 'It was so drummed into us at drama school that 'it's unforgiveable not to be clear and heard'," she said.
First of all, I am offended by the blame placed upon American film stars.
Second of all, bullsh!t! May I remind Ms Stubbs and all others who feel the way she describes so condescendingly, that the American film stars from the early part of the 20th century all the way through the time of, say, Katherine Hepburn and later, had impeccable diction. Yes, it is different from much of what we hear today, but it not the fault of American actors. It is highly unfair of Stubbs to claim this, and it is mean.
In a more covert style of blame-shifting, Stubbs later cites the direction by Baz Luhrmann that led his actors to ignore punctuation as another cause for alarm. She is not being mean and spiteful here, at least not as callously as she lambasted her generalized notion of American actors. She's finding exception to the fact that Luhrmann may have chosen to engender in his cast the delivery of dialog that fell on her flat ears. My assumption is that Luhrmann was employing his directorial assets, like them or not, to portray a concept. I am not a fan of Luhrmann, but I try to respect his choices as an artist.