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 Memorization Techniques

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James Jay
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PostSubject: Memorization Techniques   Tue Feb 19, 2008 10:28 am

I need some advice from you seasoned stage actors. I'm a newbie to stage acting (my magician skills are totally different) and I'm having difficulty memorizing two sonnets for this upcoming production. Last time I needed to memorize, I recorded myself saying the lines, and that helped, but it's not helping this time for some reason. Any suggestions?

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keltroncybo
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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:42 am

I find that writing them helps....writing writing writing....eventually you should be able to test yourself by finding out how much you can write without looking.

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Tamitha
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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:47 pm

Jay

When I was with the Shakespeare group in Shreveport, we had several techniques that we used. (Mainly because it was like a different language. lol) But, I like the following:

Write the first letter of each word in a line, exactly the way it appears on the paper you've been reading. (This is important because it has to do with seeing it in your mind's eye.)

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

would be written as

S I c t t a s d?

Capitalize everything that is capitalized, write in commas and punctuation wherever it is written on your paper.

Then, I would carry this paper wherever I went and would pull it out. Believe it or not, I remembered more than I thought I did.

Hope this helps, we'll talk more tomorrow.
Tamitha
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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Tue Feb 19, 2008 2:54 pm

This is kind of a personal preference sort of thing I think... what works for some people may not work for others. You sort of just have to find something that works for you, though it certainly helps to get ideas from others.

I like to listen to the words if I'm having trouble memorizing, like long speeches etc. I had to do several of the speeches from Henry V, and they are looong winded. What I did was find recordings of other people saying the speeches, and then listen to it over and over, along with read it over and over. It helps me to hear that voice in my head (no, not the crazy one...). If you can't find a recording, perhaps you can make one!

With Shakespeare especially, step 1 before you do anything else is figure out word for word what the line really means. Memorizing something that has no meaning for you isn't going to work very well.

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keltroncybo
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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:46 pm

I think everyone is wrong and you should just do what I Say! Laughing

Just kidding Bro! hope some of this helps!

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James Jay
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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:15 am

Thanks guys! I do appreciate the suggestions. Writing and listening have helped in the past, so of course I'll be doing that, but I hadn't thought of something like what Tamatha suggested. That actually makes some bit of sense to me. Hopefully that will work!

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Tamitha
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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:53 am

Jay

Sorry I didn't get a chance to really visit with you about your progress on this last night. But, there really is something to be said about that memorization technique w/ extremely difficult language. (Not just The Bard, but Greek and Roman stuff, and pretty much anything stylized.) I used it when I did Happy Days, a very experimental type of show. (I was buried in trash up to my waist and the conversation didn't make sense.) Let me know how you fare with it, also.

Tamitha
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Kara
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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Mon Feb 25, 2008 4:55 pm

Oooooh!! I have something to say!

Jay, if you're anything like me (insert your funny-man insult here. Go ahead. I'm waiting.)--anyway, if you're anything like me, you may be the type of actor who simply doesn't learn--really LEARN--the lines until you've got blocking to go with it.
In a pinch I can memorize something pretty decently, but I really can't learn it until I have the visual cues that go along with the physical awareness of where my body is going to be when I'm delivering the lines. It's a fault that I've got to work on, I know, but it may help explain why you are having some difficulty. So until you've been given blocking in rehearsal, try this trick that I employ at home:
I make up blocking that makes sense for the "beats" of the sonnet and learn it that way. Of course, I have to un-learn it, and re-learn it when I finally get the actual blocking, but if you make up something that makes sense in the first place then it will probably be pretty close to what Tamitha has in mind for you anyway. Imagine the person to whom you are speaking, move to them, away from them, use a prop or chair and be consistent and you'll be amazed at how the physical muscle memory is tied to the speech muscle memory (ie. when I turn away from the invisible woman I start the line about fire; when I start toward the chair I begin the part about the dead flowers, etc.)
For actors who learn this way you'll see that they can have a heck of a time if they have to play a character who doean't move around much or who doesn't ever handle props. That's why it's also important to learn other styles of line-learning, too, just in case.
Good luck.
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James Jay
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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:46 pm

I think you may be right, Kara. I didn't really start "memorizing" my lines in "Cheaper" until we were on our feet moving around. Then the lines started making sense, and I understood what came next.

I'm still working with several of the techniques, and I know that soon, I'll have them down. It's strange though, like Tamatha said, it's a WHOLE different language.

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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Tue Feb 26, 2008 3:18 pm

I hate to say this, but I've got a looooonng way to go to memorizing my sonnets, with Exonerated and all. First I had 3 1/2, now I understand I have 4 1/2, and the 1/2 I thought I had, I don't anymore, I have the other 1/2, I think... For me, in a case like this, recording them and then brainwashing myself by playing them over and over again helps. But you guys are right, blocking is a BIG thing. Once you know where you're going to stand, who you're talking to and can put a reference like that to what you're supposed to say, it definitely helps.

Joe
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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Wed Feb 27, 2008 8:17 am

A qualification that just occurred to me:

I would suggest using the audio playback method just to get the words down, and dropping it immediately after that. If you use it too much, you run the risk of substituting the recorder's interpretation of the words for your own. If it's hard for you to separate simply memorizing the words from adding "flavor", then it's probably not a good method for you.

I've been practicing my Sonnets while cooking personally... it's the only time I have! Crap, hopefully I don't associate them with the smells of spicy food!

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Kara
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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Wed Feb 27, 2008 11:10 am

QC makes an excellent point--it's also why I advise against watching the movie version of a play you're doing (even if some of the speeches are word-for-word) because, as he pointed out, you run the risk of not only losing your own interpretation, but having your whole vision of the show clouded by a different interpretation.
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PostSubject: Re: Memorization Techniques   Wed Feb 27, 2008 11:21 am

Kara wrote:
QC makes an excellent point--it's also why I advise against watching the movie version of a play you're doing (even if some of the speeches are word-for-word) because, as he pointed out, you run the risk of not only losing your own interpretation, but having your whole vision of the show clouded by a different interpretation.

Yeah, that makes sense. I downloaded the sonnets being read, and started listening to them, but man, I don't know who taught that guy how to read, but I'd rather have a seventh grader with a 1st grade reading level read me Go Dog Go than listen to that agian. Yuck.

I plan to record MYSELF reading them, and also use the above mentioned writing techniques, but again, I know that as soon as we start moving around, it will all make sense/

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