• Line Breaks

    By Jennifer Haley on June 18, 2008 at 2:12 AM
    Rehearsals / Life

    Line breaks, line breaks, line breaks.  One of the first questions I always get on this play is, "Sooooo, how do you hear the lines being read?"  Most of them look like this:

    my brother
    just got a hummer
    it's actually his second
    he totaled the first one
    almost killed someone
    so my dad got him another

    Honestly, I never thought critically about the breaks as I was writing the play; that's simply how it came out.  Subconsciously it was about introducing an inhuman quality to the text, and a spareness and creepiness that I hoped would be reflected in production.  Definitely it was an indication we were not in the territory of naturalism.  However, as I've worked on the show with different actors, I've found that following the breaks in terms of rythm, emphasis, and the slightest of pauses gives the delivery a greater naturalism than long, flowing, perfectly-rendered sentences.  At least, the naturalism of individuals who are insecure, who are thinking in the moment, who are in tense situations where they are censoring themselves, weighing their responses, afraid of what feelings they will unleash if they speak their minds.  In short, real human beings.

    Which brings me to my special challenge this week, which was to record myself reciting some of the lines they way I hear them being spoken (in an almost absolute dead-pan, so nobody could mistake these for line readings!), and post the recording online for the SPF cast to use as a reference.  This involved a tutorial on recording vocal tracks in GarageBand (thank you David Bratton, current fellow Millay colonist) and compiling various sets of instructions from Mac Help and the internet (google: "turn mp4 into an mp3") to produce the 2.5 minute track and post it to my web site.  Ahhhhh, after the slow agonies of writing, the quick gratification of these technological achievements is blissful . . .


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