Here’s today’sScintilla prompt: What is the longest thing you know by heart (for example, a prayer, a speech, commercial jingle, etc)? Why did you learn it?When I am in a show, the thing I hear the most from people who come see it,is “I don’t know how you memorize those lines. I would never be able to do that!”
This is not true, of course. I maintain that anyone could memorize lines, as long as they don’t mind spending a few weeks glued to a script, begging the unfortunate souls who live or are friends with you to run lines, and don’t mind if people think you’re a lunatic because you’re constantly talking to yourself…running lines in the car…running lines walking down the street…running lines in the shower…all the time.
Or, at least that’s how I do it. Other people have different techniques. I have found the older I get, it takes a little more time to memorize lines. I think that’s because I have way more distractions in my life than I used to. Or my brain is melting. Or a combination of both. So I just practice more.
I think the longest monologue I have had in a play is from Neil Simon’s Jake’s Women, in which I played Jake’s rather spazzy sister. This was not a show experience I particularly enjoyed (for many reasons), but I do remember getting a certain amount of joy while laying into him with this rant:
Why is it whenever I try to help you, you push me away? You’re that way with all women. You’re so — so — standoffish. What you love is to love women. You love to have women in love with you. You even love to love women who love you because you’re standoffish. But intimacy, aha, that you’re afraid of. I said, "Aha, that you’re afraid of." I think you’re afraid to lose control in a relationship with a woman. To let a woman in so close, so deep inside of you, that she’ll gobble you up and you’ll lose whatever you think you are. You always have to be the Master, Jake. The Master, the Conductor, the Director and the Attorney General. You don’t think it’s strange that you sit around here thinking about women and making up what they say to you? And then you think up that we make up that we come over here on our own? Come on! How much more control do you want? ... They love you, they leave you, they come back to you, they worry about you, they die, they live, they grow up, the fall down, they fight for you, they cry for you — it’s a three ring circus in here and all the horses and lions and elephants are women ... You’re the star of the show, Jake. You’re the one they shoot out of a cannon and you fly around the tent with an American flag in your mouth and all the women go crazy and faint and they take them away to hospitals ... The trouble is — it’s very hard to get close to a man who’s flying around in a tent with a flag in his mouth. That’s what I call trouble with intimacy.
That part was fun.
Lines stick in your head, even years later. Not full speeches like the one above; no, if I wanted to recite that right now, I’d have to spend some time with it again. But, like with movie quotes for other people, quotes from plays and musicals surface in my daily conversation all the time, and bring with them memories, good and bad, from my very favorite hobby.