Necessity is the mother of many things... including this collection of "speed memorization" hints and weblinks.
by Amanda Louise Miller
It just goes to show: be careful what you wish for.
I’ve always loved performing. And I was lucky enough to spend much of my 20s in a city with theatrical opportunities galore, which meant plenty of chances to get my “onstage fix.” (Yay, Omaha!)
But ever since I finally figured out what I really want to be when I grow up--and started this whole post-quarter-life-crisis-grad-school adventure of mine--my chances to be “just a performer” have been few and far between. Consequently, I've often found myself saying (a lot, and to whomever would listen):
“I just wish I could be IN a show!”
Cut to one week ago, when an actress had to step out of a play I was scoring for the Kansas City Fringe Festival…
(The show tells the story of four women executed by their governments:
|Marie Antoinette, Mary Surrat, Anne Askew, and Mata Hari. Find out more about it here.)
...when I, in a moment of foolhardy self-confidence-mixed-with-summer-vacation-boredom, said:
Cut to three days after that, when I found out EXACTLY how many lines this role for which I’d volunteered involved (for the record: 169), which I now have to memorize in about a week.
Like I said: be careful what you wish for.
So here, without further ado, and just in case you ever need to memorize a speech, song, or 169 historically-accurate lines in less than 10 days, I present the "best of the interwebs" on the topic of....
HOW TO MEMORIZE SOMETHING REALLY FREAKING FAST
Step One: Use your hands. Type or write out whatever you need to memorize.
You can also use your hands to assign marginally-inappropriate gestures to every word or phrase in the text, resulting in something that looks sort of like this.
Step Two: Use your ears. This was easily the most common tip gathered by my extensive research session-slash-memorization-procrastination-party. To attempt for yourself, get your typed dialogue (either all the lines, just your lines, or just your scene partners’ lines) into some sort of audio you can listen to over and over.
Some nifty ways to do this:
- Use the Voice Recorder feature on your smart phone, or download a handy dandy voice recorder app like iTalk.
- The even more technologically-inclined can use an online text-to-speech tool like VozMe.com, or if you’re feeling "xtra" fancy, a video creation tool like XtraNormal (check out this fun example).
Step Three: Use your mouth. Speak the words over and over, preferably somehow in conjunction with steps one and two, and hopefully ignoring the fact that people in passing cars and neighboring apartments will probably think you’ve gone bananas.
Or you can just try what one of my Facebook friends recommended:
Or if that’s not to your “taste,” (ha, get it?) you can use this spiffy converter to turn any block of text into “first letter only” format, which is a great and instant memorization “cheat sheet.”
Speaking of cheat sheets, that brings us to….
Step Four: When in doubt, cheat. Now, as a former teacher, I’m pretty much morally against cheating of any kind. But, as a slightly-panicked actor with an off-book deadline approaching, I’ll take all the help I can get! Hmmm...
Maybe I can convince our director that this would be an artistically-appropriate costume concept for my character:
 And by "best of the interwebs," I really mean "what I learned from Google, Yahoo Answers, YouTube, and my friends on Facebook."
 Dude, get your mind out of the gutter. ;)
 See footnote #2.
AMANDA LOUISE MILLER 's original music, sound design, and hopefully memorized performance can be heard and seen in "BITCH (perception. reality. execution)" at the Kansas City Fringe Festival this month.
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