Recently, I did an acting class at the Actors Centre in London and the teacher, Niki Flacks, said memorising lines is just a muscular activity. In other words, everyone can do it, but the muscles need to be worked to get better. All you need to do is something physical, like fold a towel or walk and the lines will go into your physical memory, as well as your cognitive one.
As most of my work has been memorising songs, which I find quite easy, as the tune seems to help me get it in my memory faster, plus often there is the added advantage of repeats, but the monologue is a bit more elusive for me. It could have something to do with the fact that at a very young age I was suppose to memorise the poem, ‘Flanders Fields‘. I remember I was very nervous and scared about doing it, as I was having great difficulties remembering it. One by one we were called to the front to say the poem, I was one of the first to be called – curses for having a last name which starts with a ‘B’.
There I was, in front of the whole class, knees knocking, brain freezing and the kid before me made it look soooo easy! I think I remember saying something, but it came out all backwards and wrong. I was mortified and demoralised. I managed to shuffle back to my seat with my heart in my stomach. Only to find the next kid reciting it well, but then stumbled and do you know I knew what the line was – this didn’t help console me, I still felt….stupid. It created a dislike and avoidance of poetry throughout my childhood and teens. It was not until I went to college that I found the joy and beauty of poetry.
I am digressing, the point is from this 1 little incident, as a child, grew a life long fear of saying lines in front of a group of people. I have since learned I am dyslexic, something which was not so understood when I was a kid, as it is today. Somehow I managed to get a degree and not be aware of my dyslexia.
Still I am left to face those childhood fears and I am ever so grateful to be reassured that it is a muscle like any other and I can just start to give it a good work out, so that it becomes like a song.
Now I just need to find the old poetry book and dig out …..’In Flanders Fields the poppies blow between the crosses, row on row,…’
Do you have any special tricks on how to learn lines?