Sunday, May 22, 2011


My favorite place to memorize is at Revue on Saturday mornings!

I love memorizing. I have all the elvish lines spoken in the Lord of the Rings films stored in my brain and I sometimes spout them off angrily to sound like I'm cussing folks out.  I also have "Supercalifragislisticexpialidocious" memorized "backwards" as it appears in the song as well as the alphabet spoken as one long word. These come especially handy when my students are noisy beyond all reason. I start sharing my useless knowledge with a couple dutiful students and suddenly like a wave the rest of the students want to hear what I'm saying. Go figure.

I'm interested in knowing how other people memorize scripts. I do it the typical way, at least I'm pretty sure it's typical. I pick one line, then add the next line in succession and go back and test whether I've got that section and so forth.  When googling effective memorization strategies, I saw a recommendation to write out your own lines in your own handwriting to access a different part of the brain, or even to record them and play them back either with your lines spoken or with a space left where your lines should be.

Do people actually do that? It doesn't seem necessary, but who knows!

The thing I'm currently struggling with is Jeffrey Hatcher's style of writing. There are some sections where my lines just don't seem to belong next to each other. I would tell my students this is choppy writing and to add some sort of transitions between the thoughts. I think that's what's leading to my cutting myself off in rehearsals; I'm really snippy and short with my thoughts rather than drawing them out.

Part of it night be that the two parts I have the most trouble with are later in the script, which I, admittedly have not devoted as much time to practicing. I really need to spend some time working through the beats and figuring out which thoughts connect to each other.  Hopefully going off-book this week will help me.

Here is an example (with the bold part being the parts I can't seem to connect without sounding choppy):

"There was a show, a group show in '35. He begged to be a part of it, the notoriety. He hadn't had much success. It was very political. They even issued a manifesto, very brave, which he signed in very big letters."


  1. Price the armbands vs. the pins. I do agree with you that a giant Nazi flag would subsume the overall themes of the play, but I think a smaller, more subtle reference to the party on Miss Fischer is in order.

  2. I think it's fascinating when playwrights try to capture how we really talk (which looks nothing like good writing syntax when you do transcriptions of actual speech.) Fragments, jumping from one thought to another then back again, overlapping's not surprising writing well is hard work.

    But when playwrights do it, it's crafted, of course. So there's that second level of logic to discern. What's the character's train of thought? What's the playwright's train of thought?

  3. Just a quick note on memorization: For The Pillowman, I recorded myself reading the long passages, then burned them to CD to play on the way up to Fresno for rehearsals. I would speak along with the recording. It really helped.

    Otherwise, I usually do the same thing you do.

    Two of my friends have been taught to do the handwriting thing, but I've dragged my feet on trying it - I'm not a huge fan of writing cramps. :)