Balance

Learning Lines

Do avenging angels swoop down

From Point A to Point B?

Or do they dally,

Restless with conjugations?

It was a soft Georgia summer night in 1995, the night I scrawled these words into my journal book.  I’d been rehearsing for a production of Romeo and Juliet at a small theatre in Marietta Square, and words were writ in every flicker of the lanterns outside the coffeehouse.  Words streamed through the air that summer, and I plucked them to page with urgency, though I scarcely understood their meaning then.

Now, almost 20 years later, I find myself cast in Doctor Faustus at The Shakespeare Tavern, my first play since college, and every time I creep around some backstage corner, I run headlong into another memory of theatre, like that language light streaming to trip across my tongue that summer.

Learning lines again has me restless with conjugations.  The brain trauma from a car accident changed how I learn and store information; instead of devouring lines with brute force, I’ve had to digest them slowly through a Memory Palace. It takes me 15 minutes and 132 stairs to walk from my car to my office desk, and I work on a line each trip, matching the pacing of the delivery to the pacing of feet, tucking the difference between “that” and “which” on the second-floor landing by the bannister change.

The certainty I feel when the lines are right and effortless though, when objects around and feelings within begin to sputter, then glow with descriptive words . . . why then, I must just hold onto my heart as it leaps the canyon between Point A and Point B.

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