It’s nice when we get a chance to run scenes with music from the beginning through to a certain point. That’s what we did this week. We ran from the Prologue to what’s been blocked in the fair scene. Jane also went over all Act 1 music. That means that we’re really close to being done with Act 1! Which is good, because this coming Saturday is our first off-book day in which everyone must have the entire first scene memorized.
As an actor, when you’re off-book, everything gets easier (assuming you know your lines and blocking). When you can put down your script you can start really inhabiting your character. No longer do you have something in your hand blocking your gestures, preventing you from dancing, or getting in the way of a good sword fight.
The flip side of that is simple: script in hand means that you are using a crutch. It will take you longer to memorize lines, lyrics, blocking, and choreography. Hopefully everyone’s been working on these things, but let’s say that you haven’t been. Well, the next best way to work on it is to be forced to put your script down and figure it out. Of course, this is painful for everyone else. Imagine that you’re at rehearsal and you don’t have as many of your lines as memorized as you would like. But you want to try – that’s great, and I urge you to do that. However, the longer it takes, the more annoyed others get and the less patience others will have with you. That is why this step must be done on your own. Find someone to run lines with and do your best with them holding the script, rather than waste your fellow cast members’ time during rehearsal.
Here are some memorization tips:
1) Write your lines down. I like doing this at the computer, but pen and paper work just as well. You don’t even have to say your lines out loud, just write them down, in order. Of course, in order to do this, they do have to already be at least mostly memorized.
2) Grab your script and test yourself. Pick one line at a time to work on and repeat it at least 3 times. Then say it without looking at your script. Then put your script down and repeat the line another 3 times. If you forget, or mess up, start again. As you add lines, go back and say them all together. For example, if your first line is, “Why, hello sir” and your second is “That’s my hat!” after you have both lines down say, “Why, hello sir. That’s my hat!” over and over again. Then add another line. Once you can repeat all of your lines together at least 3 times you’re in good shape.
3) Find a scene partner. This can be a person or an app. I can’t speak to the app bit, but I know that there are plenty of apps out there to help you memorize your lines. They may cost money though, which is why an actual person is always better! Give your scene partner the script and have them read the lines that aren’t yours. Tell them ahead of time how much help you want. Do you want them to wait 5 seconds and then give you a word? Do you not want any help until you say the magic phrase (which you make up on your own)? If you do need help with a line, don’t just have them say it and move on. You must also say the line in order for it to sink in. This is also a good strategy for after memorization…
4) Find a scene partner – take 2. Maybe you’ve memorized your lines, but you need to better learn the lines that come before yours (this is actually super important). Have someone on book, reading those lines to help you. The more you hear them, the easier it will be. Also, sometimes you know your lines, but mix up words or keep changing little words here and there. A scene partner can let you know when and how you are messing up so that you can fix it and get your lines down perfectly.
5) Sing in the shower. You know your songs, why not sing them in the shower, where acoustics are great and you have some privacy. I do not recommend dancing in the shower, however.
These are just some tips. When I’m in a show I like to repeat my lines to myself while I drive. None of our NDW actors can drive, but you get my point. Basically, I just try to find some alone time to commit my lines to memory, but everyone has a different style. Once you find your style, it will become that much easier!
Whatever you choose to do – be prepared. Don’t wait until Friday night to memorize your lines and once you have them, keep working on them. The easiest thing to do is to forget.
See you Saturday,