Actors Kate Wetherhead and Greg Mullavey are currently starring Off-Broadway in a production of the poignant comedy Clever Little Lies. These stage veterans offered up insightful comments on the subject of internalizing dialogue.
Brent: What is your technique for memorizing a script?
Kate: Hmm, I don’t really have much of a memorization technique for just the words. The blocking helps a lot. That way, the physical language gets learned simultaneously with the lines. If the writing is good, it’s easier to memorize because it makes sense.
Greg: Becoming trusting of the writing always works. You must memorize word by word, and the intention will reveal itself. Learning the other actors’ lines as well as your own is also essential so that you know your cues.
Kate: I’m lucky with Clever Little Lies. Good writing makes my memorization job a lot easier.
Brent: So memorization and being in character go hand in hand?
Kate: Absolutely. Once I understand what my objective is in a scene, then I know what my function is. When another character in this play reveals that they’ve had an affair, then my function is to become an investigative reporter. I look for the logic in the lines. Once I find it, the memorization goes very fast.
Brent: What are some ways to get into character and out of your head?
Greg: The best books on the subject are No Acting Please by Eric Morris and How to Stop Acting by Harold Guskin. They show you how to get past any blocks and how to respond to the text. Big actors like Kevin Kline have worked with Guskin.
Brent: Kate, you played the lead in The Heidi Chronicles. How did you master an especially lengthy monologue?
Kate: When I played Heidi at the Guthrie, I spent a lot of time sitting on my couch, learning the monologue section by section. I was driven by the internal logic of the character’s emotional life, asking myself, “What would compel her to say these things?” I look for the justification, and the words follow.
Brent: Greg, tell me about your experience doing Shakespeare.
Greg: I’ve been King Lear, and last year I played Titus Andronicus.
Brent: Did the verse make the role easier to learn?
Greg: Good God, no! It was harder. It’s a different language, not one you speak every day. Maybe If I were an Elizabethan it would have been easier. I read the script over and over and over, and pretty soon the material just memorized itself. As the French say: la répétition, la répétition, la répétition.
Brent: Thank you both for being so generous with your time.
Kate: You’re welcome Thanks for coming to the show.
Greg: Tell your friends!
Clever Little Lies runs through January 3, 2016, at the Westside Theatre. More information HERE.