Andre Refig is an actor, singer, musician, and voiceover artist who has traveled extensively across the UK and Europe. He’s also bilingual (French and English) and is a master of accents. Thus, he’s the perfect choice to dramatize Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues and bring all of the roguish rakes and rakish rogues to life.
Welcome, Andre, and thank you for stopping by the blog. I’m thrilled to feature you and can’t wait to
grill you ask you a few questions about your acting and voice work. Inquiring minds want to know…
How did you get into acting / voice work? Do you have a preference for one over the other?
After studying Physics for many years (!), I decided to do a course in Musical Theatre. I’d been spending more time being involved in student dramatic productions than on my degree and felt it was the natural next step to take. Since graduating 10 years ago, I’ve been working as an actor and singer. I decided to have a go at voiceover work about 6 years ago, initially as a means of supplementing my income. I recorded a voice reel then started joining various voice websites. I now work as a voice artist alongside my acting work. I would say I enjoy both equally. In the case of audiobooks though, I consider it to be just as much acting as it is voice work so it’s a great way to combine the two.
Is comedy easier, or harder, to perform than dramatic work?
In terms of audiobooks, I don’t find comedy easier or harder than dramatic work. As for theatre, I probably find comedy easier. The feedback is more immediate and obvious: if the audience laugh then you know you’re doing something right. In dramatic work, silence could mean the audience is captivated and listening intently or asleep! Which is not to say that I don’t adore more dramatic work.
What is the most challenging part you’ve portrayed?
That’s a tough question. I think most roles are challenging in one way or another but that’s part of the joy of it. The most challenging roles often end up being the most enjoyable. That’s the best answer I can give I’m afraid.
What are some of your current acting projects? Past projects? Dream projects?
I’ve recently been in a children’s play called Life on the Ocean Wave, loosely based on the adventures of Sinbad the Sailor. Next up, I’ll be touring in a play called Oberon’s Cure (more details below). I suppose dream projects for me would be performing anything by Shakespeare or Sondheim.
What did you think of the stories in the DTK anthology? Do you have a favorite?
I really enjoyed the DTK anthology. I wouldn’t say I had a favourite, they were all very different, in style and in the characters they portrayed. It was a real joy giving a voice to them all.
[Well played, Mr. Refig, well played.]
How did you find the voice to portray each of the different characters? Is it more difficult to voice women? Children?
I create the voices mostly from the inside-out: I think of the character, age, personality, social background and then a voice comes out of that, almost subconsciously. However, when it comes to smaller characters that perhaps only speak a line or two and aren’t really defined, then I create them from the outside-in: I have a list of physical changes I can make to the sound (using the lips, tongue, soft-palate, etc.) and decide on a particular combination.
It is more difficult for me to voice women and children but I think it’s important to not try to sound literally like a child or a woman as that would inevitably end up sounding comical (unless of course that’s what’s required!). I just give a hint (lightening the voice, raising the pitch slightly) to make it clear to the listener that it is a woman or a child speaking. I often find that’s sufficient.
Which of Austen’s male characters did you most enjoy dramatizing? Is it more of a challenge to portray a hero, or an antagonist?
I can’t pick! I enjoyed them all! I don’t find it more of a challenge to portray either a hero or antagonist. If a character is well drawn out then it’s almost always fun to portray them. It only becomes challenging if there’s not much to go on.
Do you have a favorite Jane Austen novel? Why do you like it?
I would say my favourite Jane Austen novel is probably Pride & Prejudice. I find the depth and truthfulness of characterisation, especially for Elizabeth Bennet but also for Darcy, is unparalleled. The story rattles along and is truly timeless.
What projects can we look forward to seeing/hearing you in next?
Other than Dangerous To Know, which should be coming out very soon, I will be touring this summer with The Rude Mechanical Theatre Company through the English countryside, in a play called Oberon’s Cure, which is kind of a prequel to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I will be playing two characters, Doctor Dropwort and Mother Sneezewort. Details can be found here: http://www.therudemechanicaltheatre.co.uk/book-tickets/
Oberon’s Cure – 2018 Summer Outdoor Tour. All performances start at 7.30pm, except where indicated. If you do not have a Paypal account use the ‘Check out as a guest’ option.