Live vs. Video

From my inbox:

“How do you feel about doing live stage performance, that has been carefully, planned blocked, with sets, entrances costumes, lighting etc, and then have video camera crew shoot the whole thing onto three giant screens floating above your head? Do you feel as I do that this pretty much sucks the life out of the art form and the relationship between the actor and the audience – especially since the audience stops watching the stage and watches the giant screens instead?”

1Can you feel the frustration coming from the question? And did you notice that the writer sort of answered the question—assuming I would agree—before I had a chance to answer? In this case the assumption is correct.  And then there is this:

“I have no control over the camera angles, close ups or long shots. The person in the booth who never sees the rehearsals takes it upon themselves to shoot the action on the stage any way they want to and thereby interprets for the audience what they want them to see.”

No question about it, church is not what it used to be.  Technology, like it or not, is here to stay. As much as some may long for the “good ole days” they aren’t coming back when it comes to technology.  Oh, there are the hold-outs—mostly churches that are more limited by finances and know-how, rather than desire. But it is rare indeed to see a church that doesn’t have a video screen and making use of power-point, video, and even interactive question and answers via texting from the congregation.

Technology is great and I love all the things we can do with it. But just because we have the technology doesn’t mean we should use it in every conceivable situation! The drama department—if you even have one—is one area of the arts that has suffered the most… that and add the printers of hymnbooks. Both, it seems have been replaced by the video screen.
Live theater and video are two very different art forms.  A stage play is directed with the understanding that a live audience is viewing the scene. It is up to the director to control the audience’s attention through the dialog, movement on stage, and the lighting. Video is very different and attention is focused through the camera’s lens.  There is no choice for the viewer on where to look, the camera tells you. I have seen some very professional stage plays shot on video… I am rarely impressed.

I can truly identify with the struggle expressed in the email.  I am often in situations where they want to project my image on the screen while I perform. I usually discourage it. The only exception being in the truly large auditoriums that seat thousands, and it is a legitimate concern for everyone to be able to see.  But that is not the case in most churches and in the scenario expressed in this email.

My advice for those that are caught in the middle of live performance vs. video is to make a choice. Is this script better or more effective as a live play or as a video?  If it is video, then go shoot a video outside the service time where the script is set up and shot properly as a video shoot.  And if it is better live, then turn the camera off during the service!

No question, I have a bias. We are inundated with video today. There is a power in live performance. There is a relationship between audience and performer that you can not achieve with video. So I say again, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

Do you have any other helps or advice for the writer of this email? How would you suggest the person handle this issue with those making the decisions to shoot the video? 

Talking Arts and Ministry on the Radio

I had a great conversation talking arts and ministry on the radio with fellow actor Curt Cloninger and host Chris Fabry on Chris Fabry Live.  We talked about the impact that the arts can have on the life of a church. Also got to meet Bubba Johnson, one of Curt”s many characters. If you missed it you can listen to it now.

(Click link to play. Right Click or Option Click for Mac users to download as a mp3 to your  computer)

Chris Fabry Life interview with Chuck Neighbors and Curt Cloninger


Chris Fabry


Curt Cloninger

Chuck Neighbors

Chuck Neighbors





(Chris has his head on straight, but as you can see both Curt and I tilt to the right!)

Do you have a story of how art has made a difference in your life? I”d love to have you share it in the comments below!

3 Reasons You Should Invite Artists to your Church

Many of you think of me as that “Christian Actor Guy” who goes around the country performing in churches, and while that is true, as with any job there is more to my work than meets the public eye. The traveling is mostly done on weekends. My “day job” is not all that glamorous. I sit at my desk and spend many hours each week doing the “business” of an arts ministry: paying bills, answering correspondence, and trying to convince pastors to invite me to their church!


“A Device to Root Out Evil” – Dennis Oppenheim

I have a long list of the “reasons” why I am not invited (and maybe I will delve into those in another blog) but I think it is important to consider why you should invite artists to your church–and I am talking big picture here, not just me but artists in general–be they musicians, painters, dancers, poets, storytellers, comedians, or yes, even actors. Actually, the reasons are many, but I will focus here on my top 3 reasons you should be inviting artists to your church.

The Artist as a Prophet – Artists are people who see things differently. Often on the outside of a group or community, they can bring new perspectives to old things and sometimes make old things new again. Sometimes they can be disruptive, but that may be good, as things need disrupting in order for change to happen. Historically artists have played a major role in shaping culture, inspiring change, and speaking to the heart. If you need convincing, just Google “the artist as prophet” and you will get several examples. When that artist is a Christ follower, their art can speak volumes to your congregation and touch hearts and minds in a way that nothing else can.

Inspire and Affirm Other Artists – The church needs artists. In my earlier blogs I have addressed the fact that fewer and fewer churches are offering an outlet for artists to be a vital part of congregational life. In many churches, choirs are gone and musicians are few, drama is gone or replaced by a video screen, and the sanctuary, once a place of beauty, is replaced by a multi-purpose room indistinguishable from any other meeting place in town. Art in churches and schools is given a low priority yet is highly esteemed in the culture at large. I believe the church should be a birthing place for the arts. One of the most fulfilling things about my work is hearing other artists express their gratitude after seeing my art presented in their church. It gives them hope for their own artistic expression. The church needs to be affirming that! In our current culture it may well be the artists, more than the preachers, who can effectively call people to examine their lives and relationship to God.

Saying Things Differently – Let’s be honest, we can get numb in the pew. We get into a routine of hearing and seeing things the same way, week after week, and after awhile, we stop listening. Bring in an artist and suddenly we rediscover our eyes and our ears. The artist may not even be saying anything that the pastor hasn’t already said 100 times… but saying if differently can cause people to hear it, sometimes for the first time! The language of our culture, like it or not, is the language of entertainment. That’s one language artists know well. Allowing them to be heard can be transformational to both individuals and the body as a whole.

Like I said, there are many reasons you can give for not bringing an artist to your church–and many of them might be legitimate (lack of funds, scheduling conflicts, etc.). But I encourage you to seek out opportunities and encourage artists, both within and outside your church, to have a place in the life of your congregation.

What other reasons can you give for including artists in the life of your church?

Kirk Cameron and Me

Here I am as a "Christian actor" notice the beard and man-dress.

Here I am as a “Christian actor”—notice the beard and man-dress. (Circa 1991)


was reflecting the other day on my profession and made the observation that I have something in common with actor Kirk Cameron. If I asked you to make a list of “Christian actors,” we would both probably be on that list.  (It would be a very short list.) Kirk’s name would likely be very near the top of the list and mine near the bottom. Mine would only be on your list if I happened to come to your mind because I had recently performed at your church, and you remembered my name.  It would probably listed like: “That Christian actor guy that performed at our church a few months ago.”

I have commented in the past about being labeled a “Christian actor” as opposed to simply an actor who is a Christian.  When it comes to my profession and my faith I prefer to have both those words be nouns.

Somehow putting the word “Christian” in front of an occupation is either extremely limiting or sets up an expectation that is false or impossible to fulfill.


Christian Plumber — When he finishes your pipes will only drip holy water.

Christian Carpenter — He makes lovely crosses but his doors won’t stay closed, they are always open.

Christian Mechanic — He converts all your parts, giving them new life.

Christian Doctor — No pills… but make sure he washes his hands before he lays them on you. You don’t want the last infection he healed.

Here I am as Count Dracula, a role performed by an actor who is a Christian. (Circa 1972)

Here I am as Count Dracula…a role performed by an actor who is a Christian. (Circa 1972)

You get the idea… I mean you don’t have to be a Christian to do a job well and frankly I have met some Christians in certain professions that aren’t very good at their jobs.  I want a plumber that can unclog a drain, a carpenter  who knows how to make a good cabinet, an honest mechanic that can fix my car, and a doctor who is willing to prescribe an antibiotic… I don’t care if they are a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim or an Atheist.

There are times when “Christian” as an adjective makes sense… Add Christian in front of minister, missionary, or maybe counselor and I understand that.

Add Christian in of  front actor and you feel doomed to play only parts that require a beard and a bathrobe (unless maybe your name is Kirk Cameron). And I happen to know there several famous actors who are Christians. I won’t mention their names out of fear that you might start thinking of them as “Christian actors.” Sometimes I want play the bad guy — every good story has one.  An actor who is a Christian can do that… a Christian actor… probably not.

What are some of your favorite misuses of the label “Christian?”

It’s Okay to Copy, Right?

Ever wonder what artists talk about when they get together?  Fishermen talk about “the one that got away.” Truck drivers talk about bad wrecks and near misses. Food service people talk about rude customers.  But what do artists, especially those musicians and actors who serve the church… what do they talk about?

The name of this blog is Backstage Blog… so today I thought I would give you some real backstage chatter. I recently received this true story from a fellow artist.  I have my own similar stories but rarely have I seen so many bad cliches come together in one narrative. So read and enjoy… or cringe… as the case may be!

When I was touring my one-man material back in the 90s (I know, so long ago, right?), I would send churches a checklist of things I needed. Top of the list: I need a place where I could change and please please have the platform area  be cleared of furniture before I got there. In my heyday of 2 or 3 performances a week, it got very tiring to move furniture, get changed, do the play, then move it all back. But over the years, my guess is about 70% of the churches didn’t do this for me. I’d walk into the sanctuary and the front of the church still looked like Sunday morning. Although a janitor was usually there to “help me” clear it off.

This became the beginning of true back pain.

One place, I remember it was in a little town in CA, I didn’t have anyone there to help at all. I wandered in Sunday afternoon, calling for help. Finally, an older gentleman came out and said he couldn’t help me, his back was bad and besides, I was a young whipper-snapper and couldn’t I just move those 6 heavy solid cherry-wood pews off the platform, along with the five huge potted plants, and the pulpit the size of a ship prow. I had just driven 6 hours, in the middle of summer, without stopping to go to the bathroom. So I made a stand: “I really need someone to come down and help me.” This made the older gentleman furious. He called the youth pastor/choir director down to help me. He showed up with Chuck E. Cheese on his breath, fit to be tied that I would make such a ruckus. I told him he signed a pledge the stage would be cleared and I can’t do it myself.  So, he helped me, but I got the youth pastor silent treatment the whole time. But this wasn’t the only insult to my injury.

Next I asked where I could get changed. He pointed to a storage room off the stage. I could barely get inside with all the boxes and music stands. One box I noticed right away. Actually, several boxes—all containing photocopies of my plays. Dozens of them. There were probably 3 of my books with all the plays copied over and over. The youth pastor/choir director came in and saw me looking at the plays. He said: “Yeah, the youth pastor up the street got ahold of these plays from someone else and he let me copy them all. They’re hysterical. Really good skits.” I just kept staring at him, trying to figure out how to tell him I was the author and how uncool this was. Then the lightbulb went off in his head.

He said, “Oh man, you wrote those skits, didn’t you? We use ’em all the time.”

I was still looking at him for any sign of guilt or remorse for blatantly breaking copyright laws. Nothing. So, I prompted him: “Yeah, um, this is my work.”

“Your work? I thought it was the work of the Lord.”

“No, ” I said, “I mean, it’s my work. My job. This is how I make a living.”

“So, it’s not a ministry to you?”

I’d heard this line a thousand times and I had my response: “Yeah, and isn’t what you do your ministry?”


“And don’t you get paid for it?”

He shook his head. He was disgusted. “It’s not the same thing.”

Of course, I’d also heard this a thousand times too. This was just spiritual snobbery. “How come it’s not the same? I commit myself to God, the same as you. I’m preaching the word, the same as you. I went to school to study how to do this, the same as you.”

Man, this really cooked him up. Finally, his coup de grace: “Writing skits and doing plays is not the same as clergy ministry, okay? And if you were really serving Jesus, you’d be happy your work is being used.”

To which I replied: “Please don’t use Jesus to excuse your bad manners.”

Two weeks later, I got a note from the youth pastor. I, of course, expected a note of apology or understanding. He told me I wouldn’t be asked back. That I didn’t have a spirit of humility. And that he was going to write my publisher to tell them that I wasn’t representing their company well by demanding they buy copies. Oh sweet irony. Anyway, not many people I can share this story with now. Back in the old days when we were fighting the good fight to legitimize the use of theater in churches (it did get legitimized—then marginalized!)”

I can thankfully say that experiences like this one are rare.  The church… at least most…has come a long way in its understanding of art as it pertains to ministry… but some of those attitudes are still out there… He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

“Not Interested!”

I am hard a work at my desk and the phone rings.


“This is Eric with Capital One Visa—”

“I’m not interested.”











I hang up the phone. I get these calls every week.  Another credit card company  wanting me to sign up with a merchant account.  I use PayPal and Square. I know there is no way they can match the rates I get with those companies.  I go back to my work.

The phone rings again. Caller ID tells me it is the same caller.

“I said I was not interested—”

“Mr. Neighbors before you hang up. I am calling from the fraud department. We have detected some suspicious activity on your account and I need to verify some information…”

Suddenly I am very interested!

Usually a lot of assuming accompanies the phrase “not interested.”

The door bell rings and a look out the windows shows two men in white shirts and ties.

Not interested.

The infomercial on the TV screams “and that’s not all, order today and get two—”

Not interested.

Like us on Facebook and you will be entered to win a new iPad.

Not interested.

In fact, there are dozens of opportunities every day that I am routinely not interested in.  Mostly based on assumptions that are often correct.  But sometimes my assumptions are wrong. The credit card company was really interested in helping me avoid fraudulent charges. Those men at the door might have been police officers. We used our Ginsu Knives for many years and loved them. I now own an iPad and wonder if I really could have gotten one for free.

In fact my life is full of things that at one point I was sure I was not interested in.

I  had no interest in a computer or a cell phone. Now I can’t imagine functioning without them.

I had no interest in Facebook. Now I have reconnected with good friends all the way back to my childhood and am blessed for it!

I had no interest in certain music groups or certain TV shows. My sons (we have very different tastes!)  suggested I give Mumford and Sons a listen and preview a show called The Killing. Now they are among my favorites.

I had no interest when my then future wife said she had fallen in love with me (I had been burned before.)  Now I am happily married to her and couldn’t imagine life without her.

Yet my first response to the deluge of offers and opportunities still elicits from me that knee jerk “not interested” and usually before I even know what I am not interested in.

It can sting too, when you are on the receiving of that phrase.  I am quick to dole it out, but oh I hate to hear it come back to me.

I just received a email from a pastor replying  to my inquiry about performing at his church: “We’re not interested.”

I’ll bet he is like me. I bet he doesn’t even know what he is not interested in.

What have are you interested in that you previous thought you weren’t?

“What Happened to Drama in Churches?”

If you follow this blog, you know I have commented in several of the postings about the decline of drama ministry in the church.  Willow Creek Community Church was the model that everyone followed and now apparently they too have abandoned drama. Here is a a great commentary on this from one of Willow Creek’s own, Sharon Sherbondy.  Please read.. and I would love to hear your thoughts!

What Happened to Drama In Churches?


Theater Dictionary

This has been around for awhile (not my original) and thought it might be fun to post it here so we could all share in the fun, the groans, and the “been-there-done-thats.” Enjoy!

ACTORS – People who stand between the audience and the set designer’s art, blocking the view.

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR – Individual willing to undertake special projects that nobody else would take on a bet, such as working one-on-one with the brain-dead actor whom the rest of the cast has threatened to take out a contract on.

BIT PART – An opportunity for the actor with the smallest role to count everybody else’s lines and mention repeatedly that he or she has the smallest part in the show.

BLOCKING – The art of moving actors on the stage in such a manner as not to collide with the walls, the furniture, the orchestra pit or each other. Similar to playing chess, except that the pawns want to argue with you.

BLOCKING REHEARSAL – A rehearsal taking place early in the production schedule where actors frantically write down movements which will be nowhere in evidence by opening night.

COSTUME – An article of clothing which doesn’t fit, smells of mothballs, and is in constant need of repair.

CRITIC – 1) After a rave review, a font of wisdom and authority; 2) After a scathing review, a fool who wouldn’t know if his hair was on fire.

DARK NIGHT – The night before opening when no rehearsal is scheduled so the actors and crew can go home and get some well-deserved rest, and instead spend the night staring sleeplessly at the ceiling because they’re sure they needed one more rehearsal.

DARK SPOT: An area of the stage which the lighting designer has inexplicably forgotten to light, and which has a magnetic attraction for the first-time actor. A dark spot is never evident before opening night.

DIRECTOR- The individual who suffers from the delusion that he or she is responsible for every moment of brilliance cited by the critic in the local review.

DRESS REHEARSAL – Rehearsal that becomes a whole new ball game as actors attempt to maneuver among the 49 objects that the set designer added at 7:30 that evening.

ETERNITY – The time that passes between a dropped cue and the next line.

FOREBRAIN – The part of an actor’s brain which contains lines, blocking and characterization; activated by hot lights

GREEN ROOM – Room shared by nervous actors waiting to go on stage and the precocious children whose actor parents couldn’t get a babysitter that night, a situation which can result in justifiable homicide.

HANDS – Appendages at the end of the arms used for manipulating one’s environment, except on a stage, where they grow six times their normal size and either dangle uselessly, fidget nervously, or try to hide in your pockets.

HINDBRAIN – The part of an actor’s brain that keeps up a running subtext in the background while the forebrain is trying to act; the hindbrain supplies a constant stream of unwanted information, such as who is sitting in the second row tonight, a notation to seriously maim the crew member who thought it would be funny to put real tabasco sauce in the fake Bloody Marys, or the fact that you need to do laundry on Sunday.

LIGHTING DIRECTOR – Individual who, from the only vantage point offering a full view of the stage, gives the stage manager a heart attack by announcing a play-by-play of everything that’s going wrong.

MAKEUP KIT – (1) among experienced community theater actors, a battered tackle box loaded with at least 10 shades of greasepaint in various stages of dessication, tubes of lipstick and blush, assorted pencils, bobby pins, braids of crepe hair, liquid latex, old programs, jewelry, break-a-leg greeting cards from past shows, brushes and a handful of half-melted cough drops; (2) for first-time male actors, a helpless look and anything they can borrow.

MESSAGE PLAY – Any play which its director describes as “worthwhile,” “a challenge to actors and audience alike,” or “designed to make the audience think.” Critics will be impressed both by the daring material and the roomy accommodations, since they’re likely to have the house all to themselves.

MONOLOGUE – That shining moment when all eyes are focused on a single actor who is desperately aware that if he forgets a line, no one can save him.

PROP – A hand-carried object small enough to be lost by the actor 30 seconds before it is needed on stage.

QUALITY THEATER – Any show with which you were directly involved

SET – An obstacle course which, throughout the rehearsal period, defies the laws of physics by growing smaller week by week while continuing to occupy the same amount of space.

SET PIECE – Any large piece of furniture which actors will resolutely use as a safety shield between themselves and the audience, in an apparent attempt to both anchor themselves to the floor, thereby avoiding floating off into space, and to keep the audience from seeing that they actually have legs.

STAGE CREW – Group of individuals who spend their evenings coping with 50-minute stretches of total boredom interspersed with 30-second bursts of mindless panic

STAGE MANAGER – Individual responsible for overseeing the crew, supervising the set changes, babysitting the actors and putting the director in a hammerlock to keep him from killing the actor who just decided to turn his walk-on part into a major role by doing magic tricks while he serves the tea.

STAGE RIGHT, STAGE LEFT – Two simple directions actors pretend not to understand in order to drive directors crazy. (“No, no, your OTHER stage right!”)

STRIKE – The time immediately following the last performance while all cast and crew members are required to stay and dismantle, or watch the two people who own Makita screw drivers dismantle, the set.

TECH WEEK – The last week of rehearsal when everything that was supposed to be done weeks before finally comes together at the last minute; reaches its grand climax on dress rehearsal night when costumes rip, a dimmer pack catches fire and the director has a nervous breakdown. Also known as hell week.

TURKEY – Every show with which you were not directly involved

Got another one?  Love to have you share in the comments below!


As the adage goes, “you are only as good as your last show.”  It applies to not just the theater, but to just about everything in life: last game, last speech, last job review.  It can be so easy to let the most recent success or failure define our worth and sabotage our stories. Check out this video to see how some pretty famous people handled their rejection.

I remember auditioning for my first professional acting job.  It was for a role in the Smokey Mountain Passion Play in Townsend, TN.  My college drama professor was directing it, and since he already knew my abilities and had cast me in lead roles before,  I was sure I had a lock on a good role.  I wanted to be Jesus or Judas, hero or villain, as long is it was a lead role!  When the cast was announced I searched for my name beside one of the lead roles… not there.  I couldn’t believe it…. I checked the list again to be sure… oh wait, there it was at the bottom of the page: “Assistant to the Director – Chuck Neighbors.”  I was heart-broken.

Assistant to the Director….what did that even mean?  It is a vital and necessary responsibility, to be sure, but it basically meant “secretary.”  I would be by the director’s side to be a gopher and to write down every bit of stage blocking. Not what I wanted! I wanted a starring role! Man, this rejection thing stings!

That was early in my career but it is by no means the only example of rejection in my story.  Everyone experiences rejection. Actors have to be thick-skinned in this department and it is never easy.  Even after 37 years as a professional actor I still find myself judging my entire career on the basis of my last performance.  If I felt good about it, I was a success; if I didn’t I was a failure, and I contemplated getting out of the business altogether.

For some, the rejection kills the dream. They let one person’s negative comment, or a day of sales with no results, or the search for a job stamped with an “over-” or “under-qualified,” bring everything to a halt. It takes self-determination and a belief in one’s calling and ability to persevere.  Here are three things I consider when I have doubts brought on by rejection:

  1. Am I doing the right thing?  I stop and reflect on my life story. Where has my journey taken me so far? Does where I am make sense with that story? I pray and seek confirmation that I am indeed moving in the right direction.
  2. Is the rejection based in truth? I need to be honest. Was there something in my performance, my presentation, my job, that was not good, or that needs improving?  If so I admit it and make adjustments so it doesn’t happen again. If not, I give myself permission to disregard it and move on.
  3. Revisit my touchstones. Webster defines a touchstone as “a test or criterion for determining the quality or genuineness of a thing.”  I think it is important to have touchstones throughout our story, our life.  Those key moments that serve as proof that you are doing the right thing. They might be items that mark milestones such as awards, letters and photos. Or places you can visit that help you remember significant events. Or a passage of scripture that God has used to speak to you and confirm things in your life. These things are wonderful reminders that can encourage and validate our story and give us an extra measure of courage to persevere.

As the video above indicates, even the most successful—or maybe I should say especially the most successful—people in the world experience rejection and failure. It is what you do with it that makes all the difference in the world.

(Side Note: In addition to being Assistant Director, I was also the understudy for ALL male roles. This basically meant I had to learn the entire script and be ready to go on for ANY actor who might be sick or absent.  It turned out to be a GREAT job and I did play, through-out the run of the show, ALL the lead roles at least once! I attribute that experience as one of my touchstones that confirms my calling and abilities!)

How do you handle rejection? What are some of your touchstones that remind you that you are doing the right thing?

I Vant To Remember My Line

I remember the first big acting role I had in high school. The play was Dracula and I was cast as the title character (and no, it wasn’t type casting!). I so wanted to make a good first impression on my director and fellow cast members that as soon as I got the script I rushed home and began immediately memorizing my lines.  I showed up at the first rehearsal proudly gloating that I had all my lines memorized!

Chuck Neighbors as Dracula: "I vant to remember my line!"

Rehearsal began… and when it came time for my lines… the lines I had memorized… I was strangely silent. It was my turn to speak… but I didn’t know it. You see, while I had indeed memorized the words on the page, I had not bothered to read or study the rest of the text.  I could quote my lines like a monolog, out of context, but didn’t know where they fell in the sequence of the story.  In short, I didn’t know my CUES! Big mistake!

One of the questions that often comes up on this topic in my workshops is “do I have to memorize my lines word for word?” Lots of people don’t like my answer to this, but if you are an actor performing a script then the answer is “YES!” you must memorize word for word. There is both a philosophical reason for this as well as a practical reason:

  • The philosophical reason is that you are performing someone else’s writing. Most scripts will have a disclaimer that the text can’t be changed without written permission from the writer or publisher.  (Just imagine going to see Shakespeare’s Hamlet; you are waiting for the famous “To be or not to be” speech and the actor says “be something or don’t be something, ya know?” ) Your job is to interpret the text, not rewrite it.
  • But equally important is the practical reason. It goes back to my big mistake in playing the famous Count. Lines are memorized based on cues.  If I don’t say my line as it is written in the script, there is a good chance the person I am on stage with won’t know how or when to respond with their line. And if I have changed the cue, the line they have memorized may no longer make sense. Changing cue lines is a recipe for forgotten and missing lines in a performance! Don’t do it!

Here then are a few tips on how to memorize:

  • Read the script! At the risk of being redundant—read the script. Read it first to get a good understanding of the story. Read it again to gain insight into your character. Read it again for understanding of other characters and their interaction with your character. Read it until you can tell the story of the script in your own words.
  • Highlight your lines so they stand out on the page.
  • Using a blank sheet of paper, cover all the lines and slide the paper down—a line at time—as you work on each of your lines.
  • Memorize out loud. Say the lines as you plan to say them in character, thinking the  character’s thoughts as well. Say your lines AND the cue lines (the other person’s lines) out loud. While not consciously trying to memorize the cue lines, if you use this method you actually will!
  • Only after you can respond with the correct line, word for word, do you move on to the next line. Begin again at the top with each new line you memorize.
  • Memorize on your feet. Keeping your body moving gets your blood pumping, helping to keep you alert and focused. Pace, or if you know the blocking (stage directions), practice it at the same time.
  • As soon as possible get the paper out of your hands and practice the lines with another person giving you the cue lines audibly. Ideally the other cast members, but if that is not possible, anyone who can read will suffice. If you don’t have another person to work with, use a tape recorder.

Memorization is my least favorite part of my craft.  I hate memorizing (especially when it comes to 30 pages of monolog in my one-man shows), but I will tell you that I love BEING memorized. Nothing can make you feel more confident in performance than the secure feeling that you know your lines.

Have a tip or suggestion on memorization you can share?

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