Acting : Memorization by Sandra Weston

Sandra Weston

Memorization

Do you always memorize for auditions? How much lead time do you think it reasonable for a 3-7 page side? Thanks for responding!

Sandra Weston

Thanks Sean, I appreciate your honest response. I also memorize as much as I can. sometimes casting makes remarks to actors that need to be vetted with other actors because it's not realistic.

Mehernosh Kapadia

Audition should be small paras with not more than 10 lines each. And for that give 20 minutes max. That is what I do

Marlene Hamerling

I agree with Jeffrey. You have to evaluate the importance of the role against the time you have and the time needed to prepare. That having been said... There are always going to be actors who have memorized the entire scene (which will not necessarily be the deciding factor in their getting the role, and they may not have a day job:-)). But it's a level playing field. Everyone got the sides at the same time and has the same amount of time to prepare. While I find that my focus on the communication is much better, the more I'm off book, it's not always possible to achieve that, 100%. So I always start with the relationships, obstacles, etc. -- the usual prep stuff -- and leave learning the lines for last. If I've really broken down the scene properly, I may not be word-for-word perfect, but I do end up knowing, basically, what needs to said when. Then I familiarize myself with the flow of dialog on the pages, so I can quickly glance down, if I need to, without wrecking the pacing, and I'm not fumbling with turning pages or wasting time trying to find the section I need. Hope this helps.

Sandra Weston

Thanks Marlene, it's great to have comments from different people. We so rarely get a chance to glimpse into other actors experiences. I'm only five years into the business and given my being middle aged I'm not offered leads with really heavy dialogue. I go out for co-star on TV and supporting in indie film, occasionally an under five in a major feature. I was taught to prepare but not memorize for a first read, I usually find I know 50-70% and the flow once I've done my prep. I think the situation I found myself in was not an even playing field. That's what prompted me to write the post.

Marlene Hamerling

Howdy, neighbor! I'm in LA -- and no spring chicken, either.:-) Yes, it's good to get other actors' perspectives. And I certainly understand how frustrating (and unfair) the situation you describe can be. I always strive to do the best I can, with whatever circumstances I'm handed, so I don't disappoint MYSELF and spend the ride home -- and the next 3 days -- kicking myself and ruminating about it.:-) It's a goal, anyway.:-)

Dave McCrea

The last time I got a 7-page side - and those are awesome because if they give you 7 pages of screenplay it's a really good role - in fact i just saw the guy who got it in a trailer for it last night on TNT :( - I took the weekend to prepare it, it was more than enough time

Marlene Hamerling

Sigh... about the role. Yes, a weekend is ample time. It's when you get sides at 6:30 pm or later for a 10:00 am call the next day that you're hustling.:-)

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

I'm not an actor but I do have a good friend who has worked hard to build an acting career. He has told me that he often did not get the sides until late the night before and in those cases, sometimes the sides were different when he showed up to audition. You'll find all kinds of approaches to casting but when I have been involved with casting, personally, I did not give a damn if an actor had memorized lines. What I wanted to see was an actor who could give some life to the character. So my advice is to not focus so much on memorization but put in time to figure out what might make the character work. And I'd add that, in my view, if the principles involved in the film specifically want memorization, they should make that clear up front and gives actors enough lead time to get that done. All that said, this is Hollywood. :)

Marlene Hamerling

Yes, it is.:-) I've attended a bazillion workshops, webinars, conferences, panels, and such, since I've been out here. And for every preference/opinion/"rule" on one side of an issue, you'll find others who will tell you just the opposite. So you just have to figure out an operating basis that works for you, amend it if it's not getting you the response you want (but only after you've given it a fair enough shot, over time), and remember the words of John Lydgate: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

Sandra Weston

Since I have also done tons of study, classes, workshops, stage, plus reading most of the books I've learned something. My style is natural, I'm happier when I show who the character is to me and, yes I can memorize with preparation. Oh, and in the past few years I've learned to smell ego in the room.

Abigail Yates

Wow. I have never seen an audition where they asked me to memorize that much.

Sandra Weston

I'm beginning to think that if they don't ask the actor to prepare to be off book it's just another way to reject them.

Mehernosh Kapadia

That is too long an audition if you ask me. I always ask the actor to speak what ever he wants and then i judge.

Marlene Hamerling

Good for you, Connor, on all your successes! And while Directors and CDs would not accommodate a "Gee, I'm just so busy..." excuse (because, hey, everyone who's auditioning is probably very busy, too), graduation is a VERY BIG DEAL that anyone should understand. Good on being realistic about what you could accomplish and standing your ground. And congratulations on graduating!!! (From where?)

Marlene Hamerling

I understand. Break a leg!

Sandra Weston

Congrats Conner, keep sharing the positive.

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