I can remember having a go at this. I practised with an Archie Andrews dummy. With it were instructions on how to be a ventriloquist. I did what the instructions said. Apparently, I had to recite the alphabet with my mouth as still as possible, whilst looking into a mirror. This way I could monitor if I had any lip movement. People would say that ventriloquists throw their voices. Many people took this comment literally. Including me. I eventually gave up, as I could not master throwing my voice. After more years than I can remember, I learned that vents did not throw their voices as people thought. It was an optical illusion. I suppose similar, if not identical, to the one, when we see films with dialogue. The soundtrack comes from a loudspeaker system, not the projected image on the screen. However, my would-be attempts were not for nothing, unbeknown and thanks to Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers.
Somewhere along the line a tragi-comedy became the order of the day. I believe it possible, that an actual writer, might have been commissioned to supply a script. The script concerned a third rate concert party, about to make its final appearance. My part was that of a shady ventriloquist. I studied the words carefully. I noted that there was a conversation between the dummy and myself. This I thought required some ventriloquism. I put on a cravat to cover my dewlap, so that there was minimal notice of my neck moving. I concentrated in front of a mirror, acting the part involving the the interaction of the vent and the dummy.
The sarcastic conversation involved talking about the concert party's conjurer, a man named Walter portrayed by Mike Quinlan.
The following is to the best of my memory. Words were to the effect:-
VENT: Ah! Walter! Dear old Walter! What would we do without poor Walter?
DUMMY: Forget about Walter. Most people do, even when he is on stage!
After this dialogue, both the dummy and I, were supposed to simultaneously laugh. For this, I decided to put my hand over my mouth. I was also supplied with a borrowed dummy for my role.
After constant conscientious practice at home, I felt that maybe I was getting somewhere. I even tried out the positioning of my lips to what I thought was best for the microphone.
Then came the action. The big day and night had arrived. I am not sure how many filming sessions we had for the production. It was shot at various locations in Leverstock Green Community Centre. Dennis Patience was in charge. The Title was THE FINAL CURTAIN.
Eventually, I had to deliver my well-rehearsed lines. I was anxious to perform. I could not wait to to bare the verbal fruits of my labours. I was garbed in a blazer, cravat and boater. Without giving spoilers, I had cause at this point of the story, to look slightly older than I was. For this, I utilized some flour which I obtained from visiting a windmill at the top of the hill, where the grand old Duke of York led his 10,000 men. I looked right. I felt right. I was ready to deliver.
It was then lights! camera! action! I felt great. Confident. Armed with the knowledge that it was an optical illusion. I could not wait. Then disaster struck. Dennis wanted to capture close-ups of the dummy when it spoke. Oh! Frustration of frustrations! My rehearsals at home were in vain.
I did however, perform some ventriloquism, in a scene where the concert party attempt to attract selfish attention in front of a press reporter; portrayed by Brian Harris.
However, there was someone who was praised and awarded for acting in the movie. Guess who it was?! It was Vilma Quinn!
I remember seeing the completed work being shown at The Harrow Arts Cenrte in Hatch End or Pinner for a round in the IAC's Triangle Competition. But I cannot remember the judges' comments. Nor do I remember the result of the competition.
Oh! Well! Win some. Lose some.
One dressing room scene had to be re-shot. I had to get angry. Unfortunately, my voice was considered too loud for the microphone, recording the dialogue. Especially as David Harrington, wearing earphones, nearly fell off his chair, due to the sound volume.
For younger people. Archie Andrews was a famous dummy who had a BBC Radio series. His operator was Peter Brough.
Dewlap. A very famous example which gives reference to this anatomical item, is spoken by Puck in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM by William Shakespeare.
I learned that from someone, that he had used the term ventriloquist in conversation. His granddaughter asked what is a ventriloquist? He explained. His granddaughter remarked that it was a pity we do not see many of them. It sounds like fun. She was right. Ventriloquist acts are not the household names that they used to be.
I am off to the pub, where I shall have a gottle of geer.