Ok here are the last traps I would like to help you avoid…
Trap 10: WINGIN’ THINKIN’
YOU: “I don’t really believe in memorizing and rehearsing. If I “over-rehearse” I’ll sound like a robot delivering lines, instead of a real human being… I’m more of a wing-it, improv-type person. It always goes better that way. If I can’t do that here, I’m out.”
ME: “In my Solo Showdown workshop, for the final performance, I require participants to write a script and then memorize and deliver the words they wrote in the script. This may be the first or the last time (or both) in your life that you ever do this, and it’s truly worthwhile. This enables to do a few key things:
- Keep to the time allotted (so you don’t show disrespect for the audience and fellow performers)
- Ensure you “hit all the notes” in your story (so you don’t forget or blunder the best parts of what you wrote, the way you wrote it)
- Know the words of your story so well you can truly relax (so you can have an experience with the audience which is the most important aspect of being on stage)
- Feel so confident in your preparation that, should the occasion arise, you can improvise in the moment, and know you can come back to the next beat seamlessly
There’s nothing like the confidence of feeling of knowing exactly what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it on stage, even just once. I can promise you that if you only do this once in your life, and you give it your all, you will be so happy you did.
TRAP 11: FEAR OF FORGETTING
YOU: “Ok, I’ll try to memorize my script, I’m so afraid I’ll forget my lines on stage.”
ME: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
“Once you’ve given it your all to memorize your script backwards and forwards, you can trust that you’ve done your best. That’s what professional performers do. We prepare professionally. And once we’ve done that, we can “let go of the outcome”.
Here are some things to remember if you forget a line:
- The audience doesn’t care! Only you even know you’ve forgotten. You may even forget for a half second and then immediately remember what’s next. They just think you’re taking a pause! They can’t hear what’s going on inside your head.
- Take a deep breath and take the opportunity to enjoy the moment. You’re on stage, sharing a beautiful experience with fellow humans! It doesn’t get any better than this.
- Think about what you just talked about and what you’d logically or chronologically talk about after that. Sometimes that can jog your memory.
- Transitions are your most important moments on stage. Do your best in rehearsal to focus on those points most.
- Remember your blocking / movements. When you rehearse on your feet, and you always make the same move from one line to the next, let your body’s muscle memory remind you of what’s next.
- If you’re taking a while to remember your line, you can take a moment to check in with the audience, subtly or with words. “How’s this going for you?” Put the attention on them instead of yourself.
- If you still can’t remember, let the audience know playfully, “Wow, I have no idea where I am!” You can take it lightly. It’s no big deal. They’ll enjoy your honesty and your humor.
- Move to the next part of the piece you remember. The more you accept things as they are and enjoy yourself, the more the audience will do the same. You can be an example of self-acceptance and inner ease that teaches others to do the same.
TRAP 12: GETTING SICK OF YOUR DAMN SELF
YOU: Now that I’ve memorized my story, I am SICK and TIRED of it. Of myself, in fact. I’m afraid I’m indulgent, pretentious, un-funny. I want to quit!
ME: “Hurray! You’ve finally reached my favorite part. You’re sick of your “self”!
Another reason why it’s important to memorize your story and not try to wing it is that you spend way more time with it. People who wing it miss out on the repetition that truly puts your “story” in your face to the extent that you get sick of it — and get perspective on it. The repetition brings you to a point of detachment — and sometimes even repulsion. You begin to see beyond your story and through it. You begin to reject the notion that you are your story or your memories or your thoughts.
Because ultimately, you are not your story. You are essence. You are so much more than your story. You are limitless. Seeing through your story enables you to identify with something larger. You realize are the witness of the person-puppet that tells this story about who you are. Your story begins to fall away. When you put it back on for the stage, it can hang loosely. You can take “yourself” less seriously. This a “transmission” you can now give to the audience.
A meta-perspective on who you are. Humor arises easily from this place. We can make fun of our ridiculousness! The audience will love this. And they will love the “you” in your story, and they will love the “you” that is the essence underneath. This is awakening!
(P. S. If you’re looking to create a one person show / solo show, write a standup comedy set, or deliver a keynote speech, and you want to avoid these traps, I can help you. Obv. And if you’re not ready for a 1-1 experience, join my Embodied Writing workshop to cultivate a body of writing.)