Whose line 
is it anyway?

The cast learning their lines
The cast learning their lines

TRISH TAKES FIVE: By award-winning blogger Trish Burgess

“You’re paraphrasing, love. That’s not written in the script.” My husband, Dougie, is helping me learn my lines for SADOS’ forthcoming play, Family Planning. He’s right, of course. With a couple of months left before curtain up, the lines are coming but I do have a habit of making them up a little.

With a couple of months left before curtain up, the lines are coming but I do have a habit of making them up a little

“The author obviously wrote those specific words, in that order, for a reason. It’s not for you to go changing them,” he continues, relishing his job just a tad too much, methinks.

“Yes, ok, Mr Spielberg, you’ve made your point,” I reply tersely before we continue, Dougie playing all the other parts, from biker boyfriend to hypochondriac dad with enthusiasm and a game Welsh accent. I think he’s hankering after a part next year, following his recent foray into set-building.

My method for learning lines is very low-tech, using a piece of paper to cover up the words as I work my way down the page, trying not to peep - although I inevitably do. I’ve heard it is good to learn lines in small chunks, ensuring you have a nap in between each batch to allow them to sink in. This sounds like a tremendous idea.

Conversations tend to be the easier parts of a script to commit to memory but it’s the throwaway lines, of which I have many, that I find difficult. My character in this farce, Gran, is permanently in bed, shouting out requests to her daughter and announcing to the family whenever there is a knock at the door. I know I have to yell something but precisely what that is can often elude me.

Lines are only part of the process: finding your character is another. Last week our director tried a bit of ‘hot-seating’ on us. We took turns to sit in a chair while the rest of the cast quizzed us about our character, including any back story we have created. I was asked whether I had any more children apart from Elsie, how long I had lived with the family and when my husband had died - all aspects of Gran’s life not mentioned in the script.

It was only when I returned home that night I realised I hadn’t given myself a name. Neither Gran’s first name nor surname is known. How about Blodwyn or Gwyneth?Taking inspiration from a list of Welsh names, I am now toying with Enid. It’s short, for one thing, so I should remember it. My daughter’s family are called Roberts so I’m thinking Evans or Jones. Maybe I was an Evans at birth then married a Jones?

I’m sure that once I become Enid, in her grey wig and flannelette nightie, the words will flow...and hopefully they will be the correct ones.

Family Planning will be performed at the South Holland Centre, Spalding, from 18th to 21st November. Tickets are available from the box office on 01775 764777.

You can follow Trish on Twitter via @mumsgoneto and read her blog at 
www.mumsgoneto.blog spot.com

Previously...

There’s more to Springfields than the shops...