Who are ventriloquists and is it possible to master this profession?
Categories: CultureBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/who-are-ventriloquists-and-is-it-possible-to-master-this-profession
People who could speak without opening their mouths were appreciated at all times. Anyone who could broadcast on behalf of an idol, animal or otherworldly entity was in great demand in all cultures. This ability was considered a gift from the gods or the highest talent that only men receive. But everything turned out to be much more prosaic and nowadays there are many examples when women are engaged in ventriloquism. Nevertheless, a certain mystical touch of this skill remained.
Ventriloquists enjoyed particular success in antiquity. The prophetess Pythia, who served as an intermediary between people and gods in the temple of Apollo at Delphi, used this trick. She was far from the first — the priests who have "belly talk" served at the temples of Ancient Egypt and Babylon centuries before the appearance of the Delphic Oracle.
Ventriloquism is entertaining these days. Usually the artist uses a doll, on behalf of which he utters replicas. In modern culture, the image of a ventriloquist doll is very popular. Directors and writers often endow an inanimate toy with a soul, memory and character.
A good artist working in this genre literally works wonders. The doll speaks with its own voice, and sometimes almost simultaneously with the person. Such discussions are fascinating. They make the audience immerse themselves in the action and many begin to believe that the doll has a soul.
It is interesting that some artists, after many years of rehearsals and performances, begin to believe that the doll lives its own life. Therefore, even behind the scenes, the owner treats his "partner" carefully and respectfully.
The word "ventriloquism" in Russian, Greek and Latin is formed in the same way — "to speak with your stomach". In Latin it sounds like "ventrology". In fact, this is not a profession, but the skill of controlling the voice, abdominal muscles, larynx and diaphragm, superimposed on some natural data.
In other words, anyone who has enough patience for training can become a ventrologist. But a good ventrologist, able to fascinate people with his presentation, only having special physical parameters. Most people, having spent time and effort on training, will at best be able to impress their unassuming acquaintances and relatives with their ability.
Ventriloquism became an art only in the 18th century. Then such artists began to appear en masse at fairs and markets. For some reason, ventrologists were in the greatest demand in England. It was difficult to find a market square in the Kingdom where there would not be a ventriloquist's booth. There were always a lot of spectators around him and fun reigned.
A good master of "talking with his stomach" earned a lot. Often such artists eventually opened their own theaters or organized circus troupes. But do not assume that this was the occupation of people from the lower classes. Among ventriloquists there were quite famous historical figures.
For example, Count Alessandro Cagliostro achieved great success in this field. The magician, healer and great adventurer conducted spiritualistic seances for noble ladies and gentlemen. The Count spoke on behalf of the spirits of the great personalities and relatives present. But ventriloquists working in the entertainment genre, centuries ago, just like now, used dolls.
They were quite large figures with mouths opening. This was very important, since the viewer had to clearly see the movement of the doll's face when talking. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the art of ventriloquism did not develop too actively. Performances for almost two centuries were held according to simple "folk" scenarios. But since the middle of the 20th century, ventrology has begun to experience a renaissance.
Artists of this genre began to enjoy great success. Their performances were original and very diverse. The stars lit up one after another and some of them became world famous. Maryan Tchaikovsky, aka Harry Lester, was considered one of the best in the history of the genre. The artist performed with a doll named "Frank Byron Jr.".
The doll once caused a scandal and a trial, after which Lester was banned from performing with her. This was due to the fact that an elderly lady died of laughter during one of the performances. It turned out that her heart could not stand it. At first they began to drag the artist around the courts, but then he was acquitted.
Numerous witnesses confirmed that Frank gave out a joke that was fatal for a woman. Lester would have had his mouth shut at that moment. Frank Byron Jr. was found guilty and permanently banned from performing in public.
Another star of the genre was Edgar Bergen, who performed with a Charlie McCarthy doll. It was just the case when there was a truly human relationship between the partners on the stage. It is said that Bergen even included Charlie in his will and the doll received 10 thousand dollars after the death of the owner.
The popularity of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy was so great that the couple was invited to host a radio program. In the studio, the ventriloquist could relax, because no one was watching whether he opened his mouth or not. We can say that this is the case when fame has already worked for actors.
There were celebrities of ventriloquism and in Of Russia. Before the revolution, Grigory Donskoy toured the empire. This artist performed with a doll Andryusha or with a small dog. Since Donskoy himself knew ventrology in as many as five languages, his speeches shocked people. Later, the master's work was continued by his daughter Maria, and then by his granddaughter.
At the very beginning, we talked about the fact that not everyone will make a good ventriloquist. It's time to reveal a few secrets of this profession. To speak in such a way that everyone around thinks that the sound comes from a doll or even from the outside, you need not only practice. It is necessary that a person is born with certain physical characteristics.
The main skill of ventriloquists, without which you cannot master the skill, is the ability to talk through the narrowed slit of the larynx. At the same time, the tongue is drawn to the sky, and their cues are spoken on the inhale. The ventriloquist speaks for another character on exhalation. Not everyone can master this thoroughly. But even the best ventrologists admit that their work requires a lot of stress. In order to unload the voice apparatus, many of them generally arrange "dumb" days, during which they do not talk for a day or more.
There are few professional ventriloquists in the world. And the educational institution where you can master this skill is one at all. It is located in the UK. Those who are unlucky enough to become a student of this college are self—taught. To hone their skills, ventrologists not only rehearse for hours. They seek out the secrets of their profession in old books, endlessly watch videos with classics of the genre.
There is also the only Ventriloquism Museum in the world. It is located in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, USA. There are more than 700 dolls from different countries.