Just before I got on the plane I agreed to be in a play, despite the fact I am terrible at learning my lines and the rehearsals are already in the “no scripts stage”. I have the script in the suitcase I just need to find the time to go through my highlights and commit them to memory.
I seem to have problem with remembering stuff that isn’t in front of my face. I’ll look at the words in the script and of course I remember what I’m meant to say and where my cue lines are. Take that piece of paper from me in mid sentence and “poof” it’s gone.
I find that when learning my lines I have to memorise the whole play rather than just my part, and act it out in part silent monologue. I say my lines out loud and, even when my fellow actors are reciting their’s, go through the other parts in my mind.
I’ve tried reading a script constantly to make it sink in, having it on a loop playing in my ear holes, going through it nightly with others. No matter what I do when learning my lines I still get to the opening night confident that nothing I am about to say was written by the playwright.
I can remember fairly lengthy pieces of dialogue, these seem to be fine as you can wing it a bit in the middle and as long as the general gist is there you can get away with it. All you need to do is make sure that the final sentence is correct to be able to give your fellow thespians their correct cue. That’s just performance courtesy.
Where I struggle is with small interuptions, should I be saying “What!” or “You” at this point in time? Do I tell the other person to “sit down” or “stay quiet”, I’m sure it’s “sit down” but why aren’t they standing up? Did I forget to tell them to “stay quiet” so they didn’t get out of the chair to protest.
This may be down to the difficulty I have saying other people’s words. I’m okay with remembering my own writings but when I have to speak in a voice that is unfamiliar from my own I struggle. Maybe this is why the “method” actors get so deep into their characters, then it becomes more natural to recite the prose. As a full-time data analyst I’m not sure though that my boss will be too happy with me being a burglar or a cross-dressing pylon repair man.
Thankfully by the time it get’s to opening night the worry that I have not learnt anything becomes resignation that it is all going to go wrong, so I just relax and enjoy the moment. I step onto the stage in a trance and next thing I know I am taking a bow and the audience applause. As soon as I am confronted by the lights my conscious brain switches off and instinct takes over, and I realise I got everything right.
It seems my sub-conscious is much better at learning my lines than me.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Shoulda Woulda Coulda.”
Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t.