Many times as a performer you will encounter a list. A character will have a list of 2-3 ways they feel about someone, or a role requires you to rattle of the 10 places your character has lived, or a song has 4 verses about different men the singer has been involved with.
Here is a bit of advice about the dreaded list. I have some experience with this, as I preform A Christmas Carol every year. No one is like Dickens for lists, "cold, bleak, biting weather, foggy withall...." " froze his old features, turned his eyes red, his thin lips blue, stiffened his gait..", "
Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. "get the idea.
As with any memorization, a good key is that most of us memorize best if we can visualize something. And the madder, crazier the imagery, the easier it is to remember.Recently I worked with a private student on a monolog that included a list of guests at a wedding party, a long silly list. It included people like: the minister, ministers wife, the photographer, the photographer's daughter, an oceanographer, 2 blue whales, the hostess and an old lady. Now your brain can hold about 7 items in short term memory, so this is not an impossible list, it is just a bit daunting if its part of a 3 minute speech. So to help put and keep it in the memory, I told the student to clearly visualize the list. I had her picture a reception line at a wedding, and clearly see herself walking up to each person. First a minister in full robes and collar. Picture the minister shaking your hand, and introducing you to a woman standing next to him, also dressed as a minister. Next is a photographer with dozens of camera's hanging around their neck, taking photos of you, and next is a little girl, 5-6 years old, also with tons of cameras and taking your picture.This sets in your mind the photographer and daughter.
Standing next to the little girl is a scuba diver complete with wetsuit, tanks and mask, and then 2 blue whales standing on their fins looking tall and regal. Next is a hostess, so I see a Hostess Twinkee in a expensive dress you might see at a wedding, and finally an old lady, stooped over, holding onto a walker. See each clearly, imagine yourself going down the line. Suddenly an impossible list becomes so much easier.
Another easy trick we can use is letters. Sometime we get stuck on a certain phrase. For example, in a seminar I teach, I wanted students to remember the words, "things hardly ever go as planned". To make sure it stayed in their minds, I used the phrase THE GAP. Silly, but it used the letters from the words I wanted them to remember.
So when next confronted with a list, try to make the items large, silly and memorable. Practice on items you need from a certain store, or a list of things you need to do in a day. You will find it words better than just repetition, though of course repetition helps!
The Actor's Sensei
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