Singer, dancer, Elvis impersonator (in the musical Honeymoon in Vegas), and all-around funny guy David Josefsberg shares the stage with Sean Hayes and James Gleason in the Broadway comedy An Act of God. He plays Michael, a feisty angel who fearlessly harangues The Almighty for some of the crazy antics allowed to play out on earth. We talked at the stage door after a recent performance.
Brent: Very fun to see you in tonight’s show! Can I ask you a few questions? I’m a memorization coach and curious about how you remember your lines.
David: Oh, jeez. I have a terrible fear of forgetting my lines.
Brent: Really! You seem so confident up there on stage.
David: I’m an actor!
Brent: How could I forget! Tell me what you do to overcome your fearfulness.
David: Drink a lot of bourbon! No! The truth is I usually prepare really well, and know that my sub-conscious knows the words, even if I think I don't. Also, in a straight play like An Act of God, knowing what you are talking about and the ability to say something that gets you where you need to be is helpful as well. It doesn't have to be perfect!
Brent: A lot of people think that memorization comes naturally to actors.
David: Maybe to some, but not me. I have dyslexia; I even invert numbers. It must be genetic—my son and daughter are the same way.
Brent: My interviews are revealing how widespread this is. It means you have to be more focused and disciplined in your work to get the payoff you want. Tell me, what's the most challenging role you've ever had to prepare for in terms of memorization?
David: I would say a two-person play that I did called An Infinite Ache! It was an 80-minute show that had some scene work, but also huge monologues. I guess repetition was the key for me. I studied every night for a month before rehearsals started, and also had a lot of help from my wife. She would run lines with me as often as possible. Also, I would break it down into sections.
Brent: That makes sense.
David: If I have scenes spread out all over the place, I usually run each scene in my head before they come. Like the big monologue at the end of An Act of God I run three or four times before I start.
Brent: Some actors I talk with record their lines, listen to them repeatedly, and recite them back.
David: I’ve definitely done that—put stuff on tape, play it back, and break it down that way. There’s an app for that now.
Brent: Of course there is! I’ve actually heard of it. It’s called Rehearsal, right? What does it offer that other methods don't?
David: I have just started using the app, and the first audition I used it for, I booked. Rehearsal allows you to not only run the lines visually, but it also lets you listen to them over and over again. You can listen to the whole scene, and then cut your lines out for practice.
Brent: So instead of juggling a digital recorder and a paper script, you’ve got the sound and screen consolidated. Sounds efficient but maybe not as physically engaging as hard copy.
David: It’s worked for me!
Brent: Point made! You’ve been in musicals, too—The Wedding Singer, Honeymoon in Vegas, Motown the Musical, and lots of others. Are those lines easier for you to memorize?
David: Absolutely! Musicals have rhythm. You’re part of an ensemble and have the music and choreography to back you up.
Brent: Last question—how are you at remembering people’s names?
David: Argh, I’m terrible at names! I’ve already forgotten yours!
Brent: You’re forgiven. Your mind is probably on overdrive after doing the show. Take a copy of my book; it will help you with names and faces, and even scripts.
David: Thank you, Brent! I hope this was helpful!
Brent: It was. It’s been a real pleasure, David. Break a wing again tomorrow!
An Act of God runs through Labor Day at the Booth Theatre.