By Micki Bare – “Diamond in the Rough”
The lines are coming! The lines are coming! Everyone said they would, I just had trouble believing them. I haven’t been on stage since the sixth grade and I was only responsible for a handful of lines at the time. A full-length play is a completely different adventure.
In less than a week, I will have to conjure up and regurgitate line after line after line whilst channeling Edna Edison, a middle-aged semi-neurotic housewife who heads back into the workforce when her husband loses his job. And while the play is set in the early 1970s, it is eerily relevant today.
After our first line reading, fear crept into my psyche. What if I laugh at the funny parts when the audience laughs? I have to KISS my friend Travis, on stage, with Hubby watching from the audience? How am I going to learn all of these lines?
Soliciting the help of others did not provide the support I sought. My beautiful Aunt Lolly has participated in many community theater productions in New York over years, so I asked, “What’s the trick to learning lines?”
“That’s easy,” she explained. “I don’t take speaking parts.” She can sing and dance, but she cannot remember lines.
When I was in the sixth grade, I highlighted my lines. So, that’s where I began. This method proved helpful for reading lines when we were still allowed to hold our scripts.
Our fine director–who was never worried about me learning the lines because, as he said repeatedly, “The lines will come.”– had several suggestions. Circle key words. Think about what the character is thinking when she talks and write the subtext in the margins.
When we went off book, I spent much of rehearsal calling, “Line?” Our dedicated stage manager spent most of rehearsal writing line notations on colorful sticky notes. Her script was soon transformed into a rainbow of unlearned lines.
Early in the process, my co-lead and good friend Travis mentioned he records the play and listens to the recordings.It It must have been everything.
I guess I won’t make a colossal fool of myself on opening night after all.
Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and author of “Thurston T. Turtle Moves to Hubbleville.” She lives in Asheboro with her husband, three children and mother. Her e-mail address is email@example.com