I've been offered a part in the Repertory Society's coming production of The Sunshine Boys, a play by Neil Simon. I'd heard this was in the offing three or four weeks ago, and got a copy of the play to read. It's very funny, sometimes in a kind of aggressive way, and the three main characters are great to play. I'm doing Al, who doesn't appear till the second scene. He's the bête noire of the main character, who's being played by Bert Nisbet. Bert's character is onstage for a great deal of the play - even when he's not onstage, he has lines that he has to fit in from offstage. I'm relieved that I have several sections of the play when I get a break - and time to cram up on my next lot of lines, no doubt!
Apropos of this, I've been memorising Psalm 119 over the last few weeks - it's a slow process, because there isn't a kind of narrative flow to the psalm. The sometimes seemingly random statements - which use the same words over and over in different ways - don't easily connect to one another in the brain, so you have to have all sorts of links to keep track of things. The part in the play is a piece of cake to learn by contrast with Psalm 119, so in a way I've been doing some mental exercises in preparation. However, it's also the longest part I've ever learnt, I think, and will be kind of tough to deal with.
I was in a play last week on the life of Rosalie Macgeorge, the first missionary to leave New Zealand from the Baptist Mission Society. I had only around twenty-five lines in the play all up, and for once I was word-perfect. My aim is to be word-perfect in this play too, because I feel that if you don't get the words right, not only does it do a disservice to the author, but it also makes it harder to remember whether you've got the line quite in its proper shape. The brain delights in muddling those who don't learn things exactly (it can muddle those who do know things exactly). It may seem picky to want to learn the thing perfectly, but I know from experience that if I don't I'll have trouble at some point in the performances.