My New Way to Learn Lines

PerformI needed a way to learn lines without tearing my hair out. I found a method that worked quickly, beautifully, and seems to deliver a much more natural performance. Check out a little Kindle book called “The Actor’s Machine.”

Buy it at for $7.99. Even if you don’t own a Kindle you can get the app for your PC or smart phone.

Here’s the strategy in a nutshell.

The worst thing you can do is memorize lines off a script. What the Irhig Method has you do is assign what your character

  • sees,
  • hears, or
  • says to herself

to every beat in the script. Memorize only these “triggers” and see, hear or say the self-talk (to yourself) before saying the line.

Note: A beat is considered a change in behavior happens in the scene.

Worked like a charm on 6 single spaced pages with a bare minimum of effort. Normally, I’d be paralyzed with sweat trying to get those lines over the course of weeks.

Of course, your mileage may vary. Let me know if it works or doesn’t work for you.

First Drafts are Always Bad

I think my 15 year old daughter’s going to be a writer.

She walks around the house depressedly muttering how she’s a shitty writer, and how she hates writing, while working hours a day the whole Christmas vacation on her take home exam answering 5 questions on Brave New World. It’s due tomorrow and she’s half done. Oh and she takes picayune issue with the wording liberties of the teacher’s questions. Oh and she’s only half way through Les Miserables that she’s been reading for two months. She’s on page 700.
Asking all you writers out there, Am I right? Am I right?
But how do I explain to her that first drafts are always shitty. Writing is hard work. That writing is not written, it’s re-written.
She brushes me off.
PS: Yesterday her English teacher gave the class a new assignment, Take a book you like and make it into a children’s book. She’s doing the first half of Les Miserables calling it The Sad People.
The Mock dry humor gene, much?
Yes, I hafta say.

Now this is a Ship!

The “Call Me Ishwhale” dance is the climax of the story. In Act 2 I deconstruct the elements of this dance i.e. the costumes, props, movements, and my five minute version of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Yesterday in Leonard’s class I worked on two bits involving a costume and a prop using mime and clowning:

The first bit is clowning stage business finding Ishmael’s coat and putting in on upside down and backwards.

Oh noes! My coat is upside down and backwards!

then I swing right, left then full circle and get it on correctly over my head.

Phew! That’s better! All’s right with Ishmael’s coat world.

It was inspired by masterful clown, Bill Irwin from “The Regard of Flight” seen here at 12 minutes 30 seconds in…

The second bit is looking for a ship – finding the chair, sitting in it and rowing, “naw, that’s not a ship, that’s a rowboat” getting up picking up the chair, turning and twisting it then putting it down upside down and askew, “that’s not a ship” putting it upright back to the audience then climbing ropes up to the crow’s nest, “there’s a seagull” then “this is a ship!”

This is a ship!
Now this is a ship!

I especially like the second bit because with Leonard’s genius-level and classmate Bernard Vash’s help, the audience really sees the ship created out of Sioux’s imagination. It shows the power of imagination. When I comes back at the finale, it will really be fun for the audience. It took a lot of sweat and repetition and faith to get these bits but so exciting, I hardly noticed how much work it was. Fun times!