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The actor's nightmare

I'm on stage. It's a production in the round. I'm in blackout and I hear the slight buzz as the faders bring up the lights. But as the lights go up I realise with horror that I have absolutely no idea what my lines are. The cold hand of fear grasps my shoulders and the sweat pricks out... The lights are now up full. I seem to have a cup of tea in my hand and I'm wearing a very nice 30's suit. I sip it and try to look nonchalant. There's a horrible silence. On the coffee table in front of me I can see the script that I really meant to learn but somehow never got round to. Then a fellow actor comes on stage in butler attire looking worried.: "You'll be needing your poster, Sir...??" he implores as a clear hint as to the lines I should now be saying. Panic rises, sweat pours off me. I wake up.


I had this dream on Friday last. I have a similar dream about once a month. In fact it's common for most actors.


One of the most important messages we try to get over, but at the same time most frustrating (and sometimes annoying) is that acting doesn't start until lines are learned. Every production without fail at the theatre school we implore our younger casts to learn their lines as soon as they know what part they are playing and very production the same thing happens- one or two pay heed and their performances as a result are noticeably better than their colleagues. Once the book is down you can focus on character, meaning, nuance, all kinds of wonderful things. You can even look other actors in the eye which can be the astart of all kinds of brilliant things!


But what I really can't understand is how anyone can sleep at all if they don't know their lines and they have a show coming up soon.


So be a professional. An amateur learns their lines until they remember them. A professional learns their lines so they can't forget them.


Lecture over.


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