Line Learning: A Procrastinator’s Guide
First, congratulations on getting the part.
Settle down in your favourite chair, bed, park bench and begin to make important decisions.
Are you going to highlight all your lines in the same colour or colour code them for emotion implied.
Should you highlight stage directions?
Should you annotate important cue lines?
Phone your best friend for advice. Catch up on gossip and try to sound interested in his cat’s impetigo.
Vow not to phone any more friends but to get on with studying script.
Read your first scene carefully.
Repeat your first line over and over again as it is important that you immediately make an impact.
Once you have learnt that first line thoroughly and without hesitation or deviation, treat yourself to chocolate biscuit; line learning is hard work and you need energy.
Remember that you have not told the world that you are now a successful, employed actor so log on to facebook to share your news.
Get involved in bitch-chat-fest on Facebook about the trivialisation of the acting profession and no/lo paid work.
Don’t mention that said successful employment above is actually profit-share; that’s on a need to know basis.
Go back to script.
Repeat your second line over and over again.
Then go back to the first line you learnt.
Pour out a large glass of wine to nullify the extreme distress you are feeling because despite all your efforts you have transpose two words in first speech.
Decide that you are a failure. Eat another biscuit.
Phone second best friend who you know will tell you to pull your socks up and get on with it. She does.
Go through whole play and highlight each of your lines and neatly stick a little post-it on the top of each page upon which your character enters.
On the first page of the script write the page number on which your character enters.
Write your name and phone number on the script’s title page.
Spend several minutes working out the maximum reward you could offer for return of script should you accidentally leave it on the bus.
Look at third line of your speech. Be delighted that is a simple one, a simple response to a simple question such as: Would you like a drink and you say “yes.”
Wonder why your character does not add the word please. Wonder if you should mention this to director (and to author, if it is a new work of art). Ask yourself whether you have missed some vital clue to your character’s motivation in that she is so impolite.
Remember that you have not tidied your sock drawer recently so spend ten minutes doing so.
Go back to script. Try to remember first three lines. Whoop in delight that you have cracked them.
See you have five missed notifications on twitter. Go to twitter and read all about how some reality tv numpty has got lead role in major movie. Tweet that you sincerely wish them luck and how as two working actors you can empathise with their joy.
Go to bathroom and throw up. Make note to self not to eat any more chocolate biscuits.
Go back to script. Decide not to admit to anyone that you did count the number of speeches you have in the play. Realise that having learnt four lines you have only x percent more to learn.
Try to mathematically work out how many hours this will take if four lines have taken two hours and three chocolate biscuits ……… remember why you are an actor and not an accountant.
Go back to script and start on fifth speech. It is a long one. It is a plot driving one. It is full of flowery phrases that have a very precise rhythm.
Realise that you will never be able to memorise it. Not ever.
Pour wine, make sandwich, phone third best friend who tells you that it is not too late to go back to college and get a proper qualification and who asks you if you have ever thought of going up for an advert because they pay very well and there are fewer lines to learn.
Delete third best friend from contacts phone-book.
Realise that first rehearsal is in fifteen hours’ time.
Wonder if you should tell director you accidentally left script on bus.
Look at speech again.
Place script under pillow and dream that you are in a play portraying a yellow high-lighter searching for italics to eradicate.
Wake up next morning and vow to really knuckle down to it after rehearsal, after blocking and after assessing how far the other actors in the company have progressed with the acquisition of their dialogue.
Tweet how excited you are about the prospect of today’s rehearsal; funnily enough you mean it too!
(ps – a more serious guide tomorrow unless I can think of something funnier.)