12 October 2004

I'm late, I'm late

I think it's time for me to stop being surprised by the number of blog entries I encounter (I am still powerless to resist the "next blog" button because "next blog" is how I found most of the ones that I check on a daily basis) that have somewhere near the top of a post the statement that the author is now very late - for class, for work, for a deadline, what-have-you. This is then followed by a nice, long, chatty post. If one is already late, doesn't sitting around writing blog posts only compound the problem?

Now me, on the other hand, I never do that. I will, however, sit and write nice, long, chatty posts when I'm avoiding memorizing something. Like right now. I have half a monologue memorized for an audition. Well, more like two-thirds, really. It's just that memorizing monolouges is intensely dull. No fun at all. So I'm taking a break from this one to write about the memorization process.

I have a system that seems to work for me, which is:

1. Find a monologue that will remain interesting for the period during which I'll need it.
2. Type it out or hand-write it. The mind remembers what the hands have done.
3. Read it a few times.
4. Start the "pound it into my head" process. Read sentence A, repeat sentence A several times while not looking at the paper. Read sentence B, repeat sentence B several times while not looking at the paper. Now say sentences A & B. Lather-rinse-repeat for sentences C thorugh ZZ (or sometimes zzzzzzzzzzzz).
5. Tape myself reading the monologue, preferably with vocal choices included, saying each sentence twice, so that I can hear it and then say it along with myself. Play the tape in the car anytime I'm driving alone.
6. Read the monologue now and again, as though it were new material. This really helps to clean up mis-memorization errors.

It's a really boring process, but it gets the words into my head, so it works for me. It is interesting, too, which monologues (and dialogues) my brain accepts easily and which ones it takes forever to learn. Anything that I try to memorize near to the time when I've had to memorize something else I learn quickly because memory is a muscle. If I go from show to show to show, the dialogue gets learned pretty quickly. The first show after a long break is the hardest.

Learning lines written by someone whose syntax is either similar to mine or very, very different is easier than learning lines written by someone whose syntax is 17 degrees off from mine. My brain will struggle with competing word choices and clause arrangements. The easiest dialogue for me to memorize was probably Tennessee Williams's words for Flora in "27 Wagons Full of Cotton." Williams's characters talk the way that people talk. George S. Kaufman's characters talk the way that people haven't really talked in a while, but still kind of do. W.S. Gilbert's characters talk the way no actual human being talks. (They talk in "exposition speak."). So Williams and Gilbert are easier for me than Kaufman. And, of course, easier doesn't necessarily mean more rewarding, because I love doing Kaufman shows.

Okay, back to work.

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