Well, the mask progress was slow today. I did completely finish one and got two more close but nothing that would make a good picture. However, today I codified some of my methods for memorization of lines for theatre (Shakespearean theatre specifically,) so here they are.
Always move in some way when you are trying to memorize. Kinetic motion somehow causes the brain’s memory system to function better. Strangely I find sewing great for memorizing because of the motion and the repeated pattern of sound from the machine.
I can only learn about 8-10 lines at a time in a long speech, or about half a page of short line dialog. So when I am learning I take this much, learn it then move on to the next chunk. Then I go back and try to put the first two chunks together. When I get that right then I keep going and add another chunk to the end. About a page of 12 point type lines is the most I have been ever able to learn at one sitting.
Rule of 3’s
Education theory says that you have to do (or hear) something 3 times correctly in order to learn it. For me I start with the book and say the chunk of speech aloud from the book 3 times (by the third time I’m trying not to look at the book so much). Then I try to say it from memory 3 times checking myself from the book at the end. By the time I can say it right 3 times in a row, I usually have it.
Short vs Long Practice Sessions
Practicing mindfully for 15 minutes a dozen times a day is better than practicing for hours straight. This is perfect for single speeches. If you write your speeches out on cards, or have the play on your phone this is perfect for carrying around with you whenever you have a free moment.
Different types of Input
Using multiple types of learning helps to solidify things in your memory. If you can write or type your lines, as well as read them, as well as make a tape to listen to or read aloud, as well as read with onother person, you will learn it much better than if you only do one of these things
What Are You Saying?
You will never be able to remember a line well unless you know what it means. If you are having trouble take the line apart gramatically, and then make sure you know what every word in it means specifically (not just in a general sense). Looking up words is a great way to find images and connections that can help you remember the lines.
Following the Verse
With Shakespeare in particular, the rythym of the verse is very strong and if you flip just one word around, or replace a word with a different number of syllables you will loose the entire line.
If you are having difficulty with a line try slowing it down and really exagerating the rythym of the verse in your speaking (in practice not performance). Also if you just can’t get a line make sure you have correctly analyzed the stresses and verse pattern within it.
It also works very well to look for cool language tricks like Alliteration because Shakespeare uses them all the time and they can really help the line stick in your head once you recognise them.
Do Not Compromise
As a musician I have learned that if you make mistakes in practice you will make them in performance. It works better for me to slow everything way down until I can do it perfectly and be totally conciously engaged even if this means I can’t practice as long (because total attention is exhausting.)
As you begin to get off book, make sure that you go back to the book at least once a day because every day at least one error will try to creep in. If you do something wrong twice, you will learn it that way (whereas it takes 3-5 times to actually learn it right).
If you are working with another person to learn lines, insist that they correct you with every little thing.
Well lots of progress. All six of the yet to be finished masks have a basecoat now and at least 4 of them have quite a bit of detail. The earth elemental on the left is almost finished, I just have to finish his aurora and then seal and add sparly bits. Wow I’m tired. But I have a friend coming tomorrow so I’ll at least have company in my projecting.
Well, here are the final shapes of the masks for the Air Elementals and the Fire Elementals. I actually was able to form the last of the masks for the Tempest today and so tomorrow I just have to stiffen them, cut the eyes and paint them. There are four total of these elementals to paint and then I have detail painting on two of the goddesses to finish. Afterward I have to punch holes and string ties on all of the masks. I hope to deliver them this week because I think they will really help to create the character of the spirits, and because I so want my life back.
Yesterday we got the last two sculpts molded and we experimented with the new molding material Hydrostone from Armadillo clay. It was much more difficult to mix to the correct texture but made for a beautiful mold. Here are the first masks made in the molds as well as the finished and in progress masks all lined up on the mantle. On to design the auras for these two. I look forward so much to this project being done and having my life back.
Well I actually managed to make progress. I’m 4 masks down and 7 to go. I also managed to get the air and earth sculpts done so that we can cast them tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be feeling up to it. But for now it’s just nice to have my sweetie home for some quiet time.
Finally got the masks finished last night. Added in more details and faded back the sharpie with a glaze of color over the top of it. Then once dry I gave them a coat of clear UV proof acrylic sealant and let that dry. Then I let that dry and then glued on some clear iridescent sequins to catch the light and sparkle.
Well I am now to the stage where I can really tell what they are going to be. I am going in and adding details with a Sharpie marker (OK so I am a total hack, but I can draw a cleaner line than I can paint). Next step is to fill in some contrasting colors and a few more highlights and shadows and then on to ornamenting with gems and sequins. The trick for me at this stage is I see all the asymmetry in the masks and it bothers me, and so I have to keep reminding myself that even God doesn’t make faces symmetrical so it is a little presumptuous for me to think that I can.
So I finally am getting to do the fun painting today. Here is the first step, building up translucent layers of color over the base coat to try and establish the over-all color. Next step will be adding detail and more shadows. Have to take a break to go get soup and juice from whole foods to treat the sickness, and head to Armadillo clay for more Hydrostone for casting. We used up an entire 50 lb bag on three casts. Amazing! Hope to finish these 4 today but it will depend on how long I have to nap for the sickness.
Finally got a basecoat on the masks today, I also have four of the spirits that have been finished shaping and are being painted, and two more goddesses cut out and being shaped. The fire elemental is 2 coats of Ceramcoat Gleams Metallic Gold and the Water Elemental is on coat of Folk Art Metallic Green Pearl and one coat of Folk Art Metallic Blue Pearl. The picture makes it look bluer and darker than it actually is. I really like using the metallic and pearl paints on the leather because I feel it maximizes the unique character of the material.
Well my friend Gia came over today to copy some patterns and to help me with the masks. We got a lot done. I now have 4 spirits completely ready to paint and 2 more goddesses cut out and about half way shaped. She forgot to eat lunch, but she brought a bunch of vegetables from a client’s garden that she is caring for, and we made up a lovely salad. I didn’t know you could eat Broccoli flowers but they are absolutely delicious. Anyway it way so pretty as well as tasty that I had to take a picture, besides which Gia dressed to match my plates. I am going to have to go and find some broccoli to plant now.