On Preparing

Tonight is my nominal evening off–Jean-Michele is enjoying hers right now, at a dinner party whose theme is the life of Archimedes. I’m looking forward to getting the story from here of how it was–I’m at the apartment, getting ready for MONOPOLY!

It’s not much to look at–I read and reskim the outline haphazardly, flipping to sections, staring, then staring at the wall. I have taken a couple of long walks, and I’ll be taking a couple more before we open tomorrow. I listen and relisten to music and walk my way through the monologue, which is arranged in my mind like a room…I am not formally trained in memory palaces, but having studied it haphazardly I can tell that my self-taught forms are definitely related. I have an uncle who is quite adept at mnemotechnics, able to imprint a deck of 52 cards in any order and then relate to you each card that comes up by summoning up the accompanying image he imprinted. I learned about that before I was a monologuist, and I remember it made a big impression on me–perhaps because of the form I would eventually practice.

So each monologue is a room, more or less, and when the show is not up it isn’t possible to turn on the lights and see where everything is–but one can walk around in the dark, with a good flashlight, and make certain the dresser is still on the east wall, that the vanity is next to the hassock, that the oak tabletop still has teethmaks in its corners–that everything is intact and ready to be lit up by and for the audience. That’s what I’m doing tonight. There’s very little of what other actors do–there are no “lines” to study, and I rarely listen to recordings of the monologue, though on occasion I will if I am particularly cramped by some detail I can’t stop thinking about–I’m certainly no Luddite or purist. On the whole it exists as an extremely internal process–there’s not much of anything to look at, but tonight I am working very hard to ensure the monologue is ready for tomorrow.

Crossposted to mikedaisey.com

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