How do you memorize all those lines?

Yep, the age old question.

I’m knee-deep in rehearsals for a play and just about off book. We’ve had a few painful rehearsals (painful is my word) where we’ve tried to get off book, and I stumbled and struggled for lines that wouldn’t come.

Generally, for me, and dependent upon the nature of the script, I need a couple working rehearsals to get the actions, motivations—and the words—in to my body, before I can start working on the process of putting down the paper. It’s muscle memory. It’s intention and conflict and challenge. Not rote.

We haven’t quite had that luxury with this production. This is a full-fledged, full-length play, where we’ve had a lot of conflicts meaning we often have someone missing which makes working things a bit more….difficult. Instead we’ve been blessed with lots of discussion time, table work and research. Truthfully, that’s something we often don’t get enough of in a production.

But now we’re at the midway point and we’re trying to get off book. And I talk a lot for a good portion.

I spend a lot of the first act asking questions in a courtroom setting.

I ask things like:

How old is he?” and “How old was he?” and “What is his age?”

or

“You dined….?” and “You had dinner….?” 

And then there are the names of people and titles of books that I mention here and there, that feel very much interchangeable (at the moment.)

Which do I say when? Not quite sure all the time.

Why ask the same thing multiple times with different words? Because that’s how people actually talk, of course, it’s just unfortunate that as actors we need not only honor the work of the playwright and say the right words, we need to give our fellow actors the right cue, or they may not say their words!

And don’t even get me started on knowing my own cues. There are so many non-sequiters in this play you’d swear we were doing five different shows at once.

“How do you memorize all those lines?” In the end the answer will be, “I don’t know…you just do” even though right now the answer is “keep trying.”

Speaking of which, I’ve got to be at rehearsal in an hour. I’m going to read over my lines—and cues—again.

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