I adore words, I adore their power to create images, to create feelings, to suck you into another world…
Alice Barclay has been a Calibre narrator for nearly 10 years, during which time she has recorded twenty-three books. A professional actor, based in Bristol, Alice has worked in theatre as well as some TV and radio, recorded audio plays and is also a qualified Iyengar Yoga teacher.
Alice began narrating for Calibre when she was pregnant with her first child. Now a mother of two fabulous daughters, she realised during her first pregnancy that her life, which involved working all sorts of hours on stage, was going to change for a while. She worked through the early stages of pregnancy, both in Swallows and Amazons in Bristol and then in War Horse in the West End. Wanting to keep herself immersed in stories even with a young child, she contacted Calibre and was soon on the train into Buckinghamshire for her training session on how to be a Calibre narrator.
When her children were very young, Alice was able to narrate whilst her babies were sleeping and her partner was at work. She worked from their slightly cold and slightly dark living room and imagined she was reading the stories to hundreds of people. Now her children are older, she works during the school day in a room she calls The Pod and is able to fit the narration work around all her other work and life commitments.
Alice is and always has been a very physical and visual performer and adores ensemble theatre. She considers being able to record audiobooks for Calibre as a fantastic opportunity to challenge herself – to use the medium of words to communicate all the physical things that would happen on stage. And although Alice’s narrating is just her and a microphone, she even records quite physically. Her notebook is full of character notes, which are often physical such as ‘lift your top lip, big teeth’ and ‘droopy shoulders’. Her notes charge her imagination to get a strong physical memory of what that character might be and therefore how they might sound. She often bases them on people she knows if appropriate, so the notes might simply read a family or friend’s name. Which will remind her of the characteristics needed for that voice.
Many of the books that Alice has recorded for Calibre have been for young people, either teen fiction or for 9-12 year olds. This has given her a really wonderful opportunity to discover books she might not have known.
During the last year, when Covid-19 has obviously kept theatres closed, Alice was offered a fantastic opportunity to take part in weekly virtual workshops with Alison Bomber, who she first encountered working for the Royal Shakespeare company. The workshops have been designed to keep your voice active, with vocal warmups and other exercises. One of the things she has taken from these classes is the notion of combining the voice, body and imagination and Alice believes these three intertwining threads combined are so crucial for successful audiobook narration too.
Alice says every time she reads a book for Calibre, she takes herself off into another world and hopes she is able to convey that world to listeners. Whilst recording, she says she always imagines just the one listener, sometimes a family member, sometimes an imaginary person. The sense of your voice going into someone’s ear or imagination, Alice declares, is something she loves.
If you want to listen to the books that Alison has recorded in our collection, please follow this link.