The work of a ventriloquist differs from puppetry and marionettes in that the ventriloquist creates the illusion that the puppet can actually talk, while remaining in full view of the audience throughout the presentation. Ventriloquists use near life-size figures with which they create a life-like illusion.
Many people believe that ventriloquists have a special throat, giving them the extraordinary ability to create another voice. This is not so. Ventriloquism is a projection of the voice. As with singers, ventriloquists need to practice regularly and to breathe correctly in order to succeed.
There are six letters of the alphabet known as labials, which require movement of the speaker’s lips: P, F, M, B, V and W. Ventriloquists replace these letters with another sound almost like them; for example, they replace an “f” by the “th” sound. In this way, they avoid using their lips.
Ventriloquists usually work indoors, on a stage or in a hall. Sometimes they work outdoors, on open-air stages.
No formal training is available. This is a skill and talent that needs to be practiced. Contact with an experienced ventriloquist is beneficial for learning and developing techniques and methods.
National Arts Council
66 Margaret Mcingana Street (Cnr Gwigwi Mrwebi)
Tel: 087 700 0683
National Television and Video Association of South Africa (NTVA)
P O Box 16140
Tel: (021) 424-7575