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Life Arts

"The Meryl Streep of Audiobooks" is Also Miss Rosa on Netflix's 'Orange Is The New Black'

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Chatting with the Versatile Barbara Rosenblat


Miss Rosa and Anita (Lin Tucci)
(image by Netflix.com)


My guest today is Barbara Rosenblat, a venerated name in the field of audiobook narration. Welcome to OpEdNews, Barbara.

I understand that you are newly back from the HEAR Now Festival in Kansas City. Please begin by telling us what this festival is all about.

BR: Well, howdy to you too, Joan. The festival is a three day kamikaze immersion of all things 'sonic audio'...storytelling, radio drama, original audio drama, listening sessions, audio vaudeville,radio sketch comedy and so on...exhausting" folks from across the land come to KC to share their brilliance with many fans of this art form. A lot of fun.

JB: I'm wild about audiobooks. I usually have one going in my car and another in my kitchen. But I freely admit that I know absolutely nothing about the process. So, if you don't mind, you're going to be our tour guide. For this festival, does everyone prepare new material?

For instance, I'm assuming you participated. How exactly did you participate? What did you DO?

BR: Well, I had a pretty tight sked. As soon as I arrived, I had a meeting with the folks from 'Right Between the Ears', a popular radio sketch comedy show from NPR out west. I was a guest voice along with the charming Simon Vance. We played an assortment of characters in some outrageous sketches with a live audience, sound FX, the whole nine yards. One and a half hours of rehearsal and tech, a quick sandwich and change of clothes and...voila...showtime!

Apparently we did not suck if the response was anything to go by.

Then, I did a children's story that I had recorded a couple of years ago... Louise, Adventures of a Chicken by Kate diCamillo. It won the Odyssey Medal for best children's audiobook. But in this instance, I did a lot of my own 'foley' along with sound FX man, Tony Brewer, and it was charming. The kids adored it and I hope to do this again one day.

Then, Golden Voices theatre, three of my colleagues and I regaling the audience with excerpts of our favorite writings. Then, a narrator's round table on the craft of audiobook recording. Then, an evening of variety audio, new plays (appeared in three new pieces) two of which won first and second prize at the close of the fest. I also got to sing with our house band and add them to the production values of some of the pieces. Lots of hard work and rehearsal. Not to mention a couple of interviews along the way...whew...

JB: I'm exhausted just hearing about what you were up to!

BR: You and me both!

JB: So, now that we've gotten a taste for the wide variety of projects you're involved in, let's go back in time. How does one get started in the audiobook narration biz? How did you?

BR: I had never recorded a book until the early 80s when my London agent, (I was living there at the time) asked if it was something I would enjoy. Never having heard of a 'book on tape', I thought I would have a go. It was, I recall, a Harlequin Scottish/Canadian logging romance...go figure.

The book is still terrible. A three-hour abridgement. And when I emerged from the last take after a couple of days, I was a wreck and saw the light. Never had so much fun in a studio in my life.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)
 
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