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How to Remember
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How Repetition Can Actually Harm Your Ability to Memorize

In last week’s post, I shared the results of  a memory survey I conducted with college theatre majors detailing the most popular methods and biggest blocks for memorizing lines.

This week, as promised, I’m beginning the process of breaking down each individual answer. Today, I’m tackling the most popular answer in the survey: rote memorization. Let’s take a look…
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The Most Popular Methods and Biggest Blocks for Memorizing Lines

I recently conducted a survey of undergraduate theater majors at 19 universities across the country. I had two goals for this survey: First, I wanted to discover how students were actually approaching memorization and compare that to the proven principles and methods I had learned throughout my memory research. Second, I wanted to learn what limited or blocked those students from being able to do remember effectively and begin to generate proactive strategies. The survey was comprised of two simple questions:

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How Script Analysis and Movement Help You Memorize

In the early phases of my own memory training and research, I encountered the work of two researchers consistently. Their names were Tony and Helga Noice. Tony is a cognitive researcher, actor and director and teaches theater in the department of communication arts and sciences at Elmhurst College. Helga is a cognitive psychologist, also at Elmhurst. They’ve been studying the correlation between acting and memory for decades. I first came across their work as part of my graduate school thesis concerning deliberate practice, expertise and expert performance. Since then, I have followed their work. And, today, I wanted to share it with you.

Why?
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Five Principles For Remembering (Almost) Anything

There are five basic principles of learning that underlie almost any memory task you can imagine. These are:

  1. Organization
  2. Visualization
  3. Association
  4. Meaningfulness
  5. Attention

Want to know an easy way to remember them? Just think of the acronym OVAMA (Obama with a ‘V’) and you’ll be all set…

Let’s take each principle one at a time to learn how to understand it, why it’s important.

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How To Remember Shakespeare

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday and are experiencing a sense of rejuvenation and optimism as you head into 2014! I know I am…

For my first post of 2014, I’m going to focus on the delicious language of Shakespeare.  Shakespeare can be a blast to perform, but it’s not always the easiest thing to memorize. In fact, sometimes it can be downright maddening. But it doesn’t have to be. What would you say if I could teach you two simple steps that could enable you to memorize any list that you encounter in a Shakespeare play? Interested?

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The 3 Stages of Remembering

There are three basic stages of remembering, and understanding these processes will take you a long way towards understanding how to improve your memory.

In general, you can break the process of remembering into three main steps: learning, storing & finding

Think of remembering like a file cabinet. If you had to create a document to file, you’d first write or type the information on a piece of paper (learning). Next, you’d file it in a cabinet under a specific, organized heading (storing). Later, when you needed that information again, you’d go back to the filing cabinet, look under the heading, and take the file back out (finding).

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could do that with your lines? Well, if you read and tried out the method I taught in my previous post about memorizing the list of wars in An Iliad, you’re on your way already…

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The Secret Lesson Grotowski Taught Me

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving…

When I was an undergrad theatre major, I read voraciously. Scripts, journals, histories, theory. You name it, I was reading it. Whenever I would invariably come across an inspiring or thought-provoking quote, I made it a practice to write it down in a notebook. And if it was really good, I’d print it out on a slip of paper and tape it on my dorm room wall. By the end of a school year, my wall would be completely covered by quotes from a diverse array of artists and thinkers. I’d usually chuck them at the end of the year to make room for a fresh batch the following semester, but a few of them would manage to “stay on” the following year. And one stayed on the wall for all four years:

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Top 10 Memory Myths for Actors

You can’t begin to improve your memorization process as an actor until you shed the negative, outdated, or plainly inaccurate information that you’ve been taught about your memory over the years. And there is a lot of misinformation and confusion out there. This week, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 “memory myths” that you need to be mindful of as an actor.

As memory expert Kenneth Higbee says, “As you read the following myths, keep in mind that some of them(myths) have a grain of truth. However, all myths are false enough to be misleading.” (Your Memory, p.1)

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How To Conquer That Endless List of Wars in AN ILIAD

You’ve just been cast as The Poet in a production of Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare’s brilliant An Iliad. This is a dream role and an amazing opportunity for you. You can barely contain your excitement as you tear open the script in eager preparation…

Then you get to page 34. And 35. And 36. And 37. And 38.

4+ typed, single-spaced, 8×11 paper-sized pages filled with a list of 143 wars dating back to the beginning of recorded time. A multitude of emotions overcome you, followed by the inevitable question you ask yourself: “How in the hell am I going to memorize THIS?”

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The Acting Problem No One is Talking About

It was the summer of 2010. A few months earlier, I had been awarded a year-long fellowship at McCarter Theatre which then led to being invited by Artistic Director Emily Mann to observe rehearsals for the premiere of an Edward Albee play she was directing in New York. Of course, I said yes.

It was a great gig. I’d show up, take my seat, and just watch.

As rehearsals moved along, it became very evident that the female lead was having an enormously challenging time remembering her lines. At first, it didn’t seem like a big deal. In fact, it was almost charming (she was a seasoned vet with a large personality). But as we crept closer and closer to opening, the truth (and her terror) became undeniable:

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