What was that again? Memory Help for Actors

Many people have heard me say: "I do improv because I can't remember lines."  I do improv acting because I love doing improv, but the real issue is that I don’t audition for scripted parts (unless there are no or very few lines) because I know I won’t be able to memorize the script, cues, and blocking. When I was 15 years old I had a terrific memory. My memorization skills were so amazing that I provided the page, paragraph, and lines of the assigned reading in my test answers; and that was on closed book exams. And then the ability was gone. POOF! Just like that. I learned the physical reason why at age 42 (and I have the MRIs to prove it), but the fact remains that for decades I just couldn't retain masses of data even after very serious attempts to do so. That goes back to the joke, "hey, Doc, when I do this my arm hurts." And Doc says, "so don't do that." That was my solution: to not do the activities that required memorizing vast amounts of stuff. Or, do the activities up to a point. Case on point: I have two law degrees, but practicing law was plan B, plan A was to use law school as business school, and I achieved that. I never attempted the bar exam after the first law degree;  I knew I wouldn't be able retain the information needed to pass the exam. I did give it a try – might as well – right? But receiving the lowest possible score (first attempt) and second lowest possible score (second attempt) on a 50-question pre-exam meant I couldn't sit for the bar exam anyway. Yes, I could have taken the pre-exam until the sun turned blue, but why bother? That stung a bit, but Plan A was achieved and I used that information to move on to other activities. That’s life, you deal with it.

And, yes, I tried different techniques over the years, and asked many people how they memorize things. The techniques didn't work as well as I needed, and the people never knew how they could memorize mounds of stuff. They just did it.

So along comes this young guy - we'll call him Garrett. He also calls himself Garrett, as do other people. How did I found out about him? That I remember. I was looking at the Winter Schedule for classes at the Denver Center Theater Academy. Thinking: who am I kidding? I can’t take acting workshops because I won’t be able to remember the practice parts. Let alone apply what I learned to scripted roles. 

I notice a workshop to help actors learn to memorize their lines with less trauma (my description): The Actors’ Dream: Memory Training for Actors. Of course I'm skeptical. It sounds a bit like snake oil. I look at Garrett's site: www.howtoremember.com. It's upbeat, but is it snake oil? He claims he can help actors, and other people, learn to memorize stuff. Ok, that's nice. But still not convinced enough to pay $100, plus parking for two days in Denver. Placed on back burner. Then I get a couple of free Denver RTD-light rail passes in the mail. Ooh, cool I can use those for something fun. And, then I get an email from the Denver Center Theater Academy offering my choice of one workshop for 50% discount. Now we're talking (you do the math).

And, yes, Virginia, I took the workshop - it was this past weekend. Six hours over two afternoons (3 Saturday, 3 Sunday) of techniques, guidance through the techniques, and encouragement. Garrett is an extremely engaging instructor – read that: he’s good. I took no notes (very unusual for me); I listened and learned. I was impressed because I actually-really-wowwy-humdinger was able to remember, learn, memorize, and believe that I could. I walked away with tools and feel that I can apply them. Confidence. I'm not about to take a bar exam. Nuh-nuh-nuh. I’ll apply the tools elsewhere. It’s more than enough to know that I have the tools and know I can use them to get the results I need. You can quote me on that.


 SoHa Happenings in Colorado 
produced by...               written by...

      Pam Roth O'Mara

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