Voice Practice Prompts
In October 2020, I started writing acting prompts with certain directions, character details, and scenes. While this was primarily for practice, I decided to go one step further and post these short writings to Twitter for actors and voice actors to practice their skills with.
Terraforming and Terror Forming
Setting: An orbiting space station in the far future, in orbit around an unknown/undiscovered planet.
Scene: Space station interior laboratory. You’re the head scientist leading an expedition to cultivate living conditions on new planets, including testing of natural resources and lifeforms to ensure compatibility with earth dwelling creatures.
Character traits: Logical, matter-of-fact speaker, highly intelligent, enthralled by discovery and exploration, fascinated with every new finding they come across.
Casting Notes: Really express the excitement and emotion of discovery for this character. Imagine the character’s mindset in this way: if they find something as dull as a new color of rock, it’s like finding a $100 bill on the ground to them. Let this mindset guide your performance and really see if you can truly bring out excitement of even the most droll of topics!
Chief scientist E-101 logging in and reporting! Today, our group has found a most wondrous bounty on the trial planet! There’s so much to go over, I’ve no idea where to begin! Lamsen was able to retrieve samples of the planet’s water and liquid sources. I’ve placed it in the centrifuge for processing and separation now. Steinn bravely faced the thickest flora to the southern regions and has returned with an entire case of fronds, leaves, and other vegetation. Carson...I sent him to the northern area around sector D5. We’re hoping he can obtain some of the smaller wildlife. He’s failed to report in through communications in the last hour, likely a result of the strange interferences we’ve had as of late. I will attribute this to solar activity until we can define further boundaries. Ah well, he will return soon surely! For now, I’ve so much to work with that I have no idea where to begin! Such decisions! I will report in once I’ve picked through all the possibilities!
The Fallen Knights
Setting: Medieval Europe, Early 1000’s
Scene: Exterior. You are a royal guard looking over the cliffside above where a large battle has just taken place. The king stands beside you as you are solemnly recounting the battle and delivering vital information to him.
Character traits: Bold, powerful, stern. You have no time for jokes or humor, the life of the kingdom is your business and you hold fast to your oath as a knight. The countless sorrows you have seen are beginning to eat at your soul.
Casting Notes: There is no specific accent required for this reading. Be bold, be stern, but don’t be afraid to let the sorrow of this script show through towards the end. That emotional break is what this script is all about!
We have suffered great losses, my king. The barbarians knew our tactics better than we could have expected, and they showed not even the slightest hint of fear. There were only a few hundred of them to our thousand...yet they slaughtered nearly all of us. The rest of the men have fled into the countryside, scattered to the wind; it is unlikely they are to return. I have failed you, my lord. These savages have crossed our borders and yet I still stand drawing breath. Even if I had only been able to stop one more from breaching through the line before giving my life, I would have done so. I’ve seen so much death, so much agony, so much destruction. The screams and cries of war ring in my ears and follow me into my very dreams. I plead to the gods above that this feud will come to an end and that they will spare my soul of the wicked I’ve done. Forgive me, my king.
Setting: You are a higher up official in a small crime ring that has been quickly growing on the underbelly of a large urban city. Your skilled crew has attracted a great level of attention from others wishing to join. You are seated between 2 of your best crew on one side of a rickety wooden table. Across from you, 3 new “applicants” are seated and are waiting for instructions.
One of the applicants will attempt to leave out of discomfort. As he leaves, you order one of your crew members to shoot him in the back. They do so without any issue, killing the applicant immediately. Your final remarks on this script should be followed by your best wicked laughter.
Scene: Interior, concrete walled basement, dim lighting, seated at an old wooden table with several others all dressed in various attire.
Character traits: Extremely professional, business oriented, lacking empathetic emotions, stern, solemn, calm unless provoked to aggression, fighter, leader.
Welcome gentlemen. I will address you by numbers for now; I don’t wish to get too friendly with any of you unless you are worth my time. You have the chance of a lifetime today; I advise you not to screw this up. We don’t pick shit up from the streets hoping it is valuable, if you catch my meaning. You will be tested and you will be judged. Something wrong number 2? It looks like you’re quite nervous about this. Are you afraid of me? Perhaps this is just a little too much to handle? If you think you can’t endure this, the door is right there. Feel free to leave if you so wish. (The applicant rises and starts to leave) Very well. Boys, please send number 2 home. *Gunshots/body dropping* One down already? This will be a very...very quick interview it seems. *Laugh*
Setting: Fantasy Medieval, alleyway in an unknown city
Scene: You are an adept thief and are attempting to haggle prices with a back alley shop keeper. You are attempting to sell/trade stolen goods and he is frustratingly resistant to your offers. The guards will walk into the alley towards the end of the script.
Character traits: Give me a unique accent that is befitting of a medieval fantasy world. Keep your voice low, hushed, and whispered. You are aggravated and hurried; somewhat paranoid, but controlling in the situation. As always, sound effects earn extra points!
Keep your voice down shopkeep! Do you really want to attract any unwanted attention to our little dealings? The guards will have your head just as fast as they'd have my hands! How dare you insult me with such low offers on my wares! The process to procure...I mean...make them is lengthy at best. My hands are dried, my hands are cracked, all to bring you these wonderful pieces of art! You'd give me a moldy loaf of bread for all the empire's jewels! Come to your senses you doddering old fool and...Hush hush. The guards are patrolling!
The WILD West
Setting: Unnamed town, Colorado, 1882. The gold rush is in full swing and this town is ripe with miners, hunters, traders, and other well-to-do folks with heavy purses and pockets.
Scene: Interior. You’re a patron in an old fashioned Western saloon. You’re surrounded by several of the locals who are listening as you tell them tales of wild exploits from bounty hunting to jail breaks.
Character traits: Con man, smooth talker, suave, eloquent, terrible marksman, habitual liar, extremely frightened of actually being hurt or shot.
Casting Notes: Give me your best Wild-west accent or whatever you feel would be fitting of a gritty yet smooth talking anti-hero. Sound effects and extra production work are a plus as always if you want the extra challenge.
Alright, alright, settle down now folks! If you'd quit interrupting me with such fine and interesting questions, I could get to the best part of the story! So there I was, standing between the sheriff and that no good outlaw, Bill "Iron Eye" Weston. Both of 'em had guns drawn and I swear I could look down both of those barrels clear enough to see the bullets in their chambers. The sheriff yelled at me to try and get me out of his way but I was having none of it! I stood my ground and they cocked their hammers back, in unison no less! I felt death itself laying a boney finger on my shoulder and I heard the shots ring out. Without flinching even one bit, I stayed perfectly still as the gunshots echoed out into the plains. I was sure I was a dead man folks, I tell you this now, Gabriel himself was floating from the heavens above to take my hand! I ran my hand around my chest, waiting to feel a wet spot of blood, but I was bone dry! The sheriff and Weston both fell to the ground, at the same exact time! I looked down and, folks, you wouldn’t believe this. Somehow, I’d drawn both of my guns, one with one hand and another in my right foot. Now I don’t rightly remember taking off my boot but I must have seen this situation comin. NOW, who wants to buy a round of whiskey for your ol’ hero here?
No Parking, Just Leaf! (Contest #1)
Setting: Modern day, evening time.
Scene: Exterior, a lovely park that is well cared for within the city. Plant life is abundant, including various types of trees, saplings, gorgeous flower gardens, and hedges. The grass is a deep green and spans for a great length of distance all around. There is a wide stone sidewalk that winds through the different sections of the park. People are strolling among the pathway and through the area as the sun begins to dip, a comfortably warm orange tinge blanketing the entire location.
Character traits: You are a tree. Yes, a tree. A literal bark, branch, and leaves tree. And you are angry, grumpy, bitter, pouting, gruff, short tempered, easily irritated by small incidents, and exhausted. The character dislikes people, dislikes animals, and dislikes most anything really.
You think life is easy for a tree? You think we just stand around all day doing nothing without a single worry in the world? Well...let me tell you something pal. Here’s another FINE evening in the same park with the same people. Ugh, PEOPLE. They sit here and stare at me, sitting on the benches with their ten dollar coffee drinks. AGH get out of my branches you damn birds! SHOO! Why must I be stuck rooted in front of all these morons? I can’t even be a true part of nature anyways, LOOK. There’s a traffic jam literally just steps away from here! At least Jerry gets to be in the middle of the park, that smug son of a...HEY. Stop staring at me kid. Lady! Get your kid away from me, he’s...he’s...OH GOD HE’S TRYING TO CLIMB ME. Knock it off! OH...disgusting little thing! Why are your hands so sticky?! LADY! Well...he’s sitting on one of my branches now. I hope you’re happy ma’am. Just once I’d like to have a peaceful quiet evening! Hmm? Who’s behind me? AGH, beat it poochy! I’m not your replacement fire hydrant! EXCUSE ME, sir? SIR is this your dog? NO, no no NO. DO NOT...and he’s peeing on me. ME. 500 trees in this park and you pick me out of them all! I should have listened to my parents and become a palm tree somewhere in the tropics. Ugh...happy place...happy place.