Learning Lines For A Play
Updated: Mar 24, 2021
Learning lines for a play While thinking about what to write for my next blog, it suddenly occurred to me when my friend asked the other night... ‘Learning hundreds of lines’ I responded. Many people have shown interest in what my process of learning lines and preparing to perform in a stage play involves and so I thought I’d share it with you too….
Script So, firstly, after the script has been provided by the director, production company, or, in some cases the writer, (in font size 45 bold as well as the recorded version), I read it over several times to try and get the gist of the story that’s being told and the flavour of the character.
Every actor works in different ways but I tend to try and work out what or who the character is in relation to the others and in different settings. In the particular show I’m involved in at the moment, there is just one character. (Shit, that’s me holding the space and audience for an hour on my own). It’s a one woman show so there is an hour’s worth of lines to memorise…. (lots of coffee, ginkgo biloba, fish oil and gluten-free snacks will be required here).
Even in the toilet…
Once I’ve learned all the text in increments of 20 minutes then break, 20 minutes then break using word associations as well as a few other techniques, the lines are then blasted by my iPhone into my every bit of being. And also from every direction. Out walking, on trains, at the dentist’s, the gym, cafes, whilst I’m falling asleep and in the loo. Yep. Everything it takes to make sure my subconscious remembers them, for when I forget.
I find it really exciting as the lines sink in because different layers of the character are revealed as well as the different emotions and responses - rather like the opening of a flower. For example my voice suddenly burst out into “Tell Laura I Love Her” this evening in a male-like voice. It wasn’t me…. it was Laura! I suddenly remembered the elderly neighbours downstairs and tamed the beast very quickly.
I do find it hard learning lines, but after putting them together with everything during rehearsals, i.e. gestures and movement with a whole lot of meditation and focus along with prayer to the gods, I hope the words will find me on opening night and tell the story they should be telling. And, during any slight memory loss on stage, here’s hoping that my improv skills are up to speed!