A Most Beautiful Thing AudioFile Best of 2020 Memoir
Narrator, actor, director, producer, writer, and teacher Adam Lazarre-White sees everything as related. Each of his roles informs the others, so when asked how being a writer influences his narration, it becomes a teachable moment. “It’s all about looking at texts. Doing textual analysis . . . texting as a verb! Most narrators are actors, and acting,” he explains, “is a literary sport. Actors are people who love to read and know how to read, comprehensively and quickly.”
“The first thing you do,” he points out, “is read a script. Period. Most of us are trained to read plays, break down a script.” A scene has an event, but that’s not to be confused with the circumstances,” he elaborates. “The cocktail party is the circumstance. But the event is this: I just found out that you, my wife, are sleeping with my boss. It’s a betrayal. So when you learn to break down the script, you crack open what’s happening, really happening--and that informs everything about how you play the scene.”
That Lazarre-White would become an audiobook narrator seems fated. On various film sets over the years, friends kept pointing him toward it. “You have to do voice-overs! You have to do audiobooks!” he recalls them saying, as they appreciated his “good non-regional baritone voice.” So he recorded a couple of samples, and he’s been steadily narrating ever since. He was mid-book when the pandemic locked down the world. “My wife and I built a really high-quality recording booth in our garage.” During those first few months, he recorded as much work as he’d usually produce in a year. Between that and teaching, he’s been “thankfully, very busy.”
He describes his ability to portray a variety of characters as the “visceral emotional ability to embody someone else’s situation.” He also notes that the way he creates compelling voices is rooted in yet another part of his life--his background as a jazz musician. “I have an ear for voices. For the music of the human voice.”
Lazarre-White is proud of the diverse array of audiobooks he’s narrated. “It was especially an honor to narrate such classics as James Baldwin’s GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN and Thornton Wilder’s THE EIGHTH DAY.” He sounds as excited to read Pablo Neruda’s sonnets he does to narrate AMERICA’S GAME: The NFL at 100. A starting quarterback when he attended Harvard, he was delighted at being selected to narrate that audiobook--though he admits reading pages of statistics was a little daunting. “You just have to find a way to give the content import. Not bringing it to life, exactly, but giving it drama through its significance.
“You have to have fun,” he concludes. “This is the project.”--Jessie C. Grearson
[DECEMBER 2020/JANUARY 2021]
©AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine
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