Nitzan Sharron, a British actor, read Roth’s story aloud for London’s Jewish Book Week in 2005. The first excerpt here includes the end of Sharron’s introduction, which gives a sense of his regular speaking voice. There, he dedicates his performance to his great-uncle, the Reverend Saul Amias — a well-known rabbi and community leader in the London suburb of Edgware — whose 98th birthday would have taken place on the day he is doing this reading. It also contains the first lines of the story (in which he performs as Ozzie and Itzie). The second excerpt is an example of how Sharron performs Rabbi Binder’s voice.
Suggested activity: Before playing the clip, ask students to identify some lines of dialogue from Ozzie, Itzie, Rabbi Binder, and Blotnick in the text. Ask them to imagine how these characters’ voices should sound. Point out that Binder’s voice is described as being “like a statue, real slow and deep” and “a voice that, could it have been seen, would have looked like the writing on a scroll.” Each student should choose one line and perform it in the voice of the character it is attributed to.
Then play the clip, and ask students to describe the sound of these characters’ voices in Sharron’s performance. They might even perform their chosen lines again, now imitating how they would have sounded if Sharron had read them. Discuss what gives a voice authority, and why — why does a deeper voice sound more authoritative than a higher-pitched one (if indeed it does to them)? What makes a voice sound funny? Ask students to talk about their own voices, how they’re told to speak, and how they’re perceived.