Thursday, June 01, 2006

Who the Heck Is Don Alverzo, and What’s He Doing with Six Pairs of Tweezers?

A show I’m in is going to open fairly soon. It’s been a while since I was on stage, and I’m enjoying the rehearsals a lot.

We start each rehearsal with a series of warm-up exercises. Some are purely physical stretches, while others are meant to sharpen our concentration. Still others focus on enunciation and diction, and in this category there is one exercise that I find absolutely intriguing. According to Wikipedia, it dates back to 1940 and was a test for radio announcers.

Here it is. Variations are in square brackets.

To be read aloud, preferably into a microphone:

  • One hen
  • Two ducks
  • Three squawking geese
  • Four limerick[ing] oysters
  • Five corpulent porpoises [corpuscles]
  • Six pairs of Don Alverzo[’s] tweezers
  • Seven thousand Macedonian [soldier]s [dressed] in full battle array
  • Eight brass monkeys from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt
  • Nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth
  • Ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who all stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery, all at the same time.

(Those ten lyrical, spherical types sound like something out of the original Star Trek, don’t they? Like those weird creatures in the pilot episode who kidnapped Captain Pike.)

You can try this at home. And locals, let me know if you’re interested in coming to see the show. I have tickets, and I promise not to go on about Don Alverzo’s tweezers, Macedonian soldiers or Egyptian brass monkeys unless you ask me to.

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