Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Memorizing Twelfth Night

Memorizing lines can be quite difficult, but we have spent significant amounts of time in class as a group, in small groups, and individually.  We are three weeks in to our 6 week timeline. On Monday, November 30th, I will be listening to each person say their lines. As of today we have several major parts that do not have even Act 1 memorized. Unfortunately, if those parts are not at at least 80% on Monday, we will have to cancel the play. This would be heartbreaking for all involved but I will not put on a play if half the players are not ready to perform.

Here are some tips for memorizing that may help over the long weekend. If you are able to come in and work with individuals or small groups during the week, I would very much appreciate it.

Tips for Memorizing Lines

Here are some tips and tricks for memorizing lines! 

Don’t try to memorize too much at one time. Instead, break it up into parts. If you are trying to memorize a poem, don’t do the whole thing at once. Memorize just one stanza at a time.
You can sometimes “chunk” information. Remembering 10 numbers in a sequence is hard (3 0 7 5 5 5 8 2 9 4). But remembering 10 numbers in telephone format is a lot easier (307- 555-8294).
Repetition over time is the most important method of getting information into your head and retrieving it readily. Don’t cram; the information won’t stick. Repeat the information frequently over time.
Writing things down and saying them out loud are wonderful ways to help you remember things. When you use these two strategies, think about what you are trying to remember. Just don’t say things out loud when they will annoy other people.
Adding a tune to what you are memorizing can be really helpful. The best example is the alphabet song, which you probably learned when you were four or five years old. Isn’t it unbelievable that you could remember all 26 letters at that age?
The Rehearsal 2 app. This is hands down my favorite way for actors to learn lines. It’s the scene partner that never gets tired of running lines with you. If you can get past the fact that it’s $19.99, this is a game changer. You can highlight the lines in the app, record the other character’s lines, and use it as a teleprompter, which will scroll through the script as you are reading it. Then it just keeps playing on a loop. The secret for me is to whisper my lines and read the other character’s lines out loud when I’m recording, so I don’t get too caught up in the way I’m saying my lines, but I know how much time I have to say them. I will literally put my iPad on a chair and pretend I’m running lines with someone. It’s so much better than a tape recorder. Love it. (Time: Approx. 30 minutes for a 12-page scene.)
Run the lines with someone many times. Preferably an actor, not your friend who was an extra on “Blue Bloods” one time, likes to coach you, and keeps reading the stage directions out loud. The first time you run through it, just listen to the words. Focus on pausing between each line, really absorbing what’s being said and going over the scene many times in many different ways, playing with intention, actions, and pacing. Try it sitting and standing, and allow yourself to make mistakes and explore every way not to do it, while also getting more and more comfortable with the lines. Focus on the “why” and the circumstances, which will help you learn the scene on a deeper level. If you forget your lines, you can find your way back because you really understand what’s going on. (Time: Approx. 30 minutes to an hour.)
  • Cook, clean, or go jogging.
    While you're repeating the words, do something with your hands and feet. Do some cooking, clean your bathroom, or go for a run. This will occupy the parts of your brain you don't need for memorizing.
  • Take your time.
  • This technique requires lots of time to work its magic. So if you have to be off book by next month, start now and take your time.
  • Whisper instead.
    This technique requires you to talk a lot. It may be hard on your voice. If you need to, whisper it instead.
  • Remember to breathe.
    It may sound simple, but it isn't. People like to hold their breath subconciously. But if you breathe, it will help you remember the text better.

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