Theater

100 Thoughts I Had While Attempting to Memorize a Play

In July, Epic Theatre Company is going to be producing a play called Mayor Pete. I’m the artistic director of Epic, I wrote the play, and I am its sole actor. While producing a one-man show you wrote at the theater you run that features you in the only role has got to be the height of vanity, I would like to think I’m paying for all this arrogance by forcing myself to memorize 70 pages of a play after not having so much as committed a shopping list to memory in well over a year.

As many actors return to the stage and begin working out whatever part of the brain allows us to absorb entire scripts, I thought it would be interesting to document some of the things that ran through my mind as I continue to learn the part.

In no particular order:

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  1. Do I remember how to do this?
  2. Did anybody invent a microchip over the past year that I can install in my brain so I don’t have to memorize anything ever again?
  3. I know I wrote this, but most of these lines should be cut.
  4. That line is impossible. I’m never going to get that.
  5. Could I use cue cards? Is that an option? They do it on SNL.
  6. Angela Lansbury uses an earpiece onstage. Can I do that?
  7. James Earl Jones does it too.
  8. If it’s good enough for Jessica Fletcher and Darth Vader, it’s good enough for me.
  9. I can’t say the word “priest.” 
  10. Why can’t I say the word “priest?” 
  11. Have I never been able to say it or is this a new phenomenon?
  12. Should I still be an actor?
  13. Is it too late to be a lawyer? I love arguing with people.
  14. Do you still have to go to school to be a lawyer?
  15. This sentence is written incorrectly.
  16. Nobody talks this way.
  17. I am never going to say this sentence correctly.
  18. Maybe if I practiced saying these lines with a British accent, this would be more fun.
  19. Should I use a general British accent or a specific one?
  20. I bet Kate Winslet would sound amazing saying these lines.
  21. Is it too late to replace me with Kate Winslet?
  22. How did she ever learn that accent in Mare of Easttown?
  23. I wish I could play a detective.
  24. Detectives barely talk. I’d have hardly any lines to learn.
  25. From now on, I’m only playing detectives.
  26. And mimes.
  27. I know this first page. That means I’m 1/70th of the way there.
  28. I should take a four-week break before I try to learn the other pages.
  29. Wow, that four weeks went by fast.
  30. Are there more lines than there were before?
  31. I think somebody added lines to this play.
  32. At least I know the first page.
  33. Okay, I don’t know the first page anymore.
  34. Did somebody change the first page?
  35. I swear I knew this page.
  36. I should learn these lines at the beach.
  37. It’s easier to learn lines somewhere other than home.
  38. Wow, I can’t learn lines here. It’s way too nice. I can’t focus.
  39. I should do this at home. What was I thinking coming here?
  40. This room is going to be where I learn my lines. It’s going to be a sacred temple where I honor memory and nothing else.
  41. I need to bring the tv in here. It’s too quiet.
  42. What’s that sound?
  43. Is that water dripping?
  44. I can’t concentrate with all this noise.
  45. I need to call a plumber.
  46. Can I run lines with the plumber?
  47. The plumber can’t be here until tomorrow.
  48. I guess no more running lines tonight.
  49. I need a better highlighter.
  50. I can’t take these lines seriously if they’re colored blue.
  51. Now I need another script. The old one is blue. It’s all blue. It’s ruined.
  52. Turns out yellow isn’t much.
  53. I should do that thing where I write the script out a thousand times.
  54. Okay, I wrote out half the first page and I’m exhausted.
  55. At least I know the first page.
  56. I mostly know the first page.
  57. I know the first line.
  58. I definitely know the first line.
  59. I know the title.
  60. If I went to an ashram, I could learn these lines.
  61. Do I know what an ashram is?
  62. Has Kate Winslet ever been to an ashram?
  63. Do they teach accents at an ashram?
  64. It’s too hot to learn lines.
  65. Is it going to be this hot all summer, because if so, I’ll never get these lines.
  66. Could we cut the play into sections and could I perform a different section each night?
  67. Each section could be one page long.
  68. One line long.
  69. It could be like a tv series.
  70. It could be like abstract art.
  71. One-minute theater. The play will be over sometime next year.
  72. How does Vin Diesel learn lines?
  73. I know he doesn’t do theater, but he must have to remember some of what he says on film.
  74. Is that why all he says in The Fast & the Furious is “We’re family” over and over again?
  75. Page two is too long.
  76. I should go right to page three.
  77. That looks long too.
  78. Aren’t there any short pages in this play?
  79. I don’t remember writing this.
  80. I would never have written anything this long.
  81. My head doesn’t have enough room in it for this play.
  82. I already have all of The Devil Wears Prada memorized. There’s no way I can put anything else in there.
  83. How is it I can’t remember any of this play but I remember every word to “Save All Up All Your Tears” by Cher and I haven’t listened to it since 2017?
  84. Maybe I could memorize this if I set it to music?
  85. What kind of music would go with a play about a gay presidential candidate?
  86. ABBA? Maybe ABBA?
  87. Wow, even ABBA isn’t helping.
  88. Wow, it’s expensive to stay in an ashram.
  89. I should just act in movies like The Fast & the Furious.
  90. I’m already a terrible driver. I’d be very convincing.
  91. I need a snack.
  92. I can’t eat and memorize at the same time.
  93. I should take a break. Just a few days … to a week.
  94. Time goes so quickly when you’re not memorizing anything.
  95. Would the audience notice if I wrote the entire script on the ceiling?
  96. Would they let me record Kate Winslet saying the lines and I could just lip-synch to it?
  97. We could put ABBA music behind it. It would be great.
  98. Or I could get the script tattooed on me. On all the parts that are easily visible.
  99. We’re going to need a lot of ink.
  100. What’s the title of this play again?
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