Abigail’s Party cast blog 4

Learning lines

So we are now three weeks into rehearsals and only two days away from our ‘books down’ date. For those of you not involved in theatre, ‘books down’ is the deadline the director sets for having learned all your lines so you can continue to rehearse without your scripts in your hands.

‘Three weeks of rehearsals and you haven’t learned your lines yet?’ I hear you say incredulously – but remember for we amateurs meeting twice a week in the evenings all with busy full time jobs and family commitments this can still be quite a challenge.

We all have different techniques for learning lines, and some find it easier than others. Some like to record the dialogue while leaving their own lines out and then listen back while at home or in the car while adding their own dialogue in. Personally, I don’t like to do this as I can’t stand the sound of my own voice – (seriously, how anyone else can listen to me I don’t know). Some like to rope in the help of a willing friend or partner to help them read through the lines together, some like to write the lines out longhand to assist the brain in taking it in, and some nerds like me just like to take a chunk at a time and read it again and again until it sticks.

As a bit of a girly swot I have something of a reputation of being the first to learn my lines and put the book down, which is true but my motivation is purely selfish I assure you. After twenty something years in amateur theatre I have learned a few things about learning lines and this is it:

  1. You can’t act with a script in your hand (obvs)
  2. The most painful part of rehearsals is rehearsing for the first time without the book
  3. You are going to have to do the work and learn the lines eventually so why not do it early?
  4. The earlier you learn it, the longer you will have to practice hands free, the better you will know it and the better your performance will be

And of course on a more generous note – the better you know your part the more the cast and crew around you can trust you and relax, and then in turn the audience will relax and enjoy it more too. Nothing more cringe-making than seeing an actor searching for his/her lines as the sweat beads on their upper lip. Oh and I can’t stand hearing prompts, definitely a pet hate.

So – two more days to get the last few lines in my head (once I have finished work, made this dinner, helped the kids with their homework and done the laundry). I’ll let you know next week how we get on.

Next time…….. ooooh I’m not sure – inspiration hasn’t hit me yet – come back to find out.