A Simple Suggestion for Getting Off BookBy Ty Unglebower • Apr 21st, 2010 • Category: An Actor's Advice
I recently declared myself off book for my current production. I won’t say I am the fastest person at doing so, but I do pride myself on being one of the first people to be so in most casts I am in.
And what is my secret? For a change, it’s not complicated advice that I have to give. It actually couldn’t be simpler.
I recite all of my scenes into a digital voice recorder. But not just my prompts. Most of the lines in a scene in which I appear. (Making sure I vary my voice enough to not confuse the lines of other actors with me own during play back.)
This has many obvious advantages.
- We more quickly commit to memory something we are actually hearing as opposed to just reading.
- We can listen to trouble spots over and over again as long as we need to. (And most machines let you “index” a certain spot in your recording, allowing you to jump right to it when you don’t have time to review an entire scene.)
- It permits you to pause the recording at each of your lines, deliver them out loud, and press resume to hear your line right away to make sure you got it correct.
- You can walk around and work on lines without holding your script at all. Right away you begin to experience what it feels like to deliver lines without having a book in your hand. It will take some time to actually be off book, but all the while your brain is getting comfortable with the idea of moving about freely while discovering your lines. This can shorten the book carrying time during rehearsal by a large margin.
- Perhaps the best part of this approach though is that you can lead into your lines and speeches with as much material as you choose. The ten proceeding pages if you wish, instead of reading just the line or two before your own line in a book. In so doing you are not just absorbing your lines, but you are absorbing the whole scene faster than you otherwise would. And the earlier on that happens, the earlier on in the process your performance will reach maturity.
Simple advice is sometimes the best, and I hope I have not disappointed you by taking a break from the complex advice I sometimes give. But when it comes to getting off book, the sooner the better, and this method has always worked quickly and well for me.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/4924.
Ty Unglebower is a Maryland native and has been acting for nine years, having studied it at Marietta College in Ohio. He has been schooled in Shakespeare, improvisation, public speaking and voice articulation throughout his career. His credits to date include over 30 plays and readings as well as 2 films. You can also read his blogs offbook.blogspot.com (for theatre related thoughts) and tooxyz.blogspot.com (for thoughts on personal success from an outcast). Follow him on Twitter @TyUnglebower.