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I am thrilled to hear my words come to life!
When I close my eyes and listen to David Boyll’s dramatic reading, I can see all the scenes in my mind’s eye, the closest thing to a movie version of my story, Finding George Washington: A Time Travel Tale.
David has done a fantastic job narrating the book and acting out all the parts.
I didn’t appreciate the popularity of audiobooks until I published Finding George in November, 2020. From Day One, I received numerous queries about whether I was planning an audiobook and when it might be released.
Full disclosure: I’m not a good auditory learner. When I read books, I study the texts, on paper or on screen, sometimes reading a few pages at a time, sometimes rereading paragraphs and whole pages two or three times for comprehension. This habit of going back and rereading has made audiobooks difficult for me.
But many potential buyers have told me they don’t read books anymore, they listen to them. And that convinced me to get off the dime, dive in, and produce an audiobook edition.
I was delighted when David agreed to take on this project. We had known each other for a long time, through our common roots in film and video production.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the journey Bill created for the Father of Our Country and the oddball characters he meets along the way,” says David. “The addition of baseball to the story was particularly compelling to me, since I am an avid Giants fan, like several of the main characters.”
In recent years, David has won the Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle Award, and I’ve been impressed by his acting in three plays: He portrayed an English classics professor in Partition at the Berkeley City Club; a daytime TV doctor in a Zoom performance of Quack by Shotgun Players; and the compulsive neatnik Felix Unger in The Odd Couple at Ross Valley Players.
Plus, he has performed in improv for years. He is versatile, adept at creating a variety of characters, and happy to record and edit the audiobook in his home studio.
“Because of George Washington’s reputation as a statesman and general, I was initially skeptical that he could be made sympathetic and relevant to a modern reader,” says David. “The cultural and historical divide between the late 18th Century and the 21st seemed insurmountable, but it turned out this was one of the most enjoyable things about the story. His humanity and likeability surprised me, and his struggles with being ‘out of time’ made this larger-than-life historical figure accessible and relatable.”
As David and I discussed the project, one of our main decisions centered on George Washington’s accent. Because George lived long before the advent of audio recording, there is no record of how he sounded, beyond several historical mentions of his reputation as a rather soft-spoken orator.
Should he sound like a Southerner? David, to my delight, confessed to being a bit of an Accent Nerd. Washington, of course, was a Virginian, but modern Southern accents as we know them hadn’t really developed yet in George’s era. It made sense for him to sound British, based on his heritage, though his people had emigrated from Western England nearly 100 years before the American Revolution. And the current “posh” King’s English accent we’re most familiar with (think BBC) is a 20th Century pedagogical creation called Received Pronunciation — not necessarily an accurate representation of speech patterns of the late 18th Century.
But there are many other regional twangs across England. British TV shows feature a variety of regional accents: Endeavour, Last Tango in Halifax, Unforgotten, Grantchester, Downton Abbey, William and Mary, Call the Midwife, Prime Suspect, etc. What made sense to both of us was something close to a British West Cdounties accent, similar to that used by actor David Morse in his portrayal of Washington in the mini-series John Adams.
David’s highly attuned ear served him well in creating distinct differences in how the characters sound in the recording of the book. It’s amazing to hear him acting out dialogues among several characters!
BIO — DAVID BOYLL
Following a 30-year hiatus working behind the camera in Film and Video production, David Boyll made his return to scripted theatre in 2017, “delivering a full load of crazy” in his breakout role as Bernard B. O’Hare in the World Premiere of Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night at Custom Made Theatre Company.
David’s portrayal of Professor Alfred Billington in Partition at Indra’s Net Theater, was called “entertainingly stodgy,” and of his performance in Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple at Ross Valley Players, one critic wrote, “Boyll’s Felix delights. His nasal honking and victim-posing brings enjoyable life to a potentially difficult character.”
David is a recipient of the Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle Award 2020 for Featured Actor for his performance in Custom Made Theatre Company’s production of Bess Wohl’s American Hero.
Between 2013 and 2020, David improvised over one hundred plays and musicals with Un-Scripted Theater Company. As a member of Improv Lab, he’s performed at festivals in San Francisco, San Diego, Austin, Santa Monica, and at SF Sketchfest.
In addition to audiobooks, David has voiced national commercials, portrayed characters in hit video games, and has interacted with hundreds of millions of customers via automated voice response.
Born in New York City, David grew up in a performing family, his parents both classical vocalists. They moved to San Francisco when David was five and he’s lived there ever since.
More about David at www.davidboyll.com