Friday, 11 August 2017

Artist Toolbox: How To Learn Your Lines Faster


Learning lines (or not) can be one of the biggest challenges faced by a cast of actors. If someone doesn't know their lines, rehearsals can grind to a painful pace, shows can fall apart and tensions can form in the ensemble rapport. So what can actors do to help overcome this challenge?

Well, one solution is right there in your pocket.

Most people own or have access to some kind of device with voice recording ability -smartphones, computers, even a cheap dictaphone. Using recording tech like this can rapidly increase the speed at which you learn your lines and (just as importantly) your cue lines.

What you need to do is to record everyone else's lines from the scenes you are in, leaving timed silences in your recording for the places when you speak. For example, take this scene I did from Peter Pan The British Musical. In the show I played the role of Hook, so to learn my lines I recorded every line except Hook's. I just used my own voice, sort of did a bit of an accent to distinguish between characters but didn't spend too long worry about the quality of it.

As you can hear, there are long pauses in the audio, and this is so that I can play the track back in real time while practicing my lines at home. I listen to my cue lines then try to repeat my lines back from memory in the relevant pauses. If I forget a line, I simply check my script, start the track over and do it again. Always, I try to do as much as possible without looking at my script. I'll have it open beside me if possible, but try not to look at if I can.

This process drastically speeds up the line learning process and makes sure that cue lines are also learned. A few evenings spent doing this and you can have whole scenes down before you know it!

Scene 1.8
          The Neverland. A forest clearing.
Music 12: Pirates’ Song

Pirates (enter singing; ) Avast Belay, Avast Belay, Avast Belay, A ……….vast belay, yo ho, heave ho A-pirating we go And if we’re parted by a shot We’re sure to meet below! The pirates enter singing, 4 pirates  carry James Hook, their captain, in a sedan chair. He lies at his ease.    He is carefully polishing his iron hook. In his mouth he has a holder which enables him to smoke two cigars at once. The pirate women follow the sedan chair
Yo ho, yo ho, the pirate life The flag o’skull and bones A merry hour, a hempen rope And hey for Davy Jones.

Nibs briefly returns to retrieve his bow before retreating back into the safety of the forestBut Starkey sights him, and quickly pulls his pistol out   ― but an iron claw grips his shoulder 

Starkey Captain, let go.
Hook Put back that pistol first.
Starkey It was one of those boys you hate. I could have shot him dead.
Hook Ay and the sound would have brought Tiger Lily’s natives upon us. Do you want to lose your scalp?
Smee brandishing his cutlass Shall I after him. Captain, and tickle him with Johnny Corkscrew? Johnny’s a silent fellow.
Hook Not now, Smee. He is only one and I want them all.
Smee All of them! (to the rest of the pirates) The captain wants THEM ALL!
Pirates Ay ― let’s get them all.
General murmuring of agreement
Smee So ― unrip your plan, Captain.
Hook The plan is simple; to return to the ship and cook a large rich cake of a jolly thickness with green sugar on it. We will leave the cake on the shore of Mermaids’ Lagoon. The boys are always swimming about there talking to the mermaids. They will find the cake and they will gobble it up because, having no mother, they don’t know how dangerous ‘tis to eat rich damp cake.
The Pirates laugh. Hook gives a particularly gruesome laugh (pointedly) They will die.
Smee It’s the wickedest, prettiest policy ever I heard of Cap’n…..And how d’you reckon to make a rich, damp cake?

Music 13: Rich, Damp Cake
Hook Well, what are you standing around here for? Go to it, you swabs.  Scatter and look for them! The pirates scatter and exit  SR
Sedan chair carried off USL
Smee, Starkey, Cecco, BillJ stay with Hook

It’s the wickedest, prettiest policy ever I heard of Cap’n…..


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