Dear Actor (Sincerely, Playwright)

Congratulations on being cast. Before you begin, please read this letter. I have a mystery I need you to solve.

“Memento” (2000)

1. Find the clues.

Everything you need to know about yourself is on the page — you just have to find it. The dialogue will serve as your trail of clues. Pay close attention to what you say (and what others say) —note every half statement and contradiction. A single word could be important.

2. Avoid distractions.

As an actor, you likely have an established and time-honed process (as you should). You might be the type of actor to create a backstory for yourself, complete with likes and dislikes, secrets and seductions. Depending on your training, you might be the type to hunt for clues along the dark alleyways of your recalled memory; you might even employ parallel dialogue or “as if” situations, attempting to place yourself into an empathetic emotional mind frame. Do so with purpose and only as a tool to reveal what is on the page. Create new facts at the peril of missing established clues. Do not distract yourself from solving this mystery.

3. Commit everything to memory—verbatim.

Your detective work will carry well past rehearsals and into performances, so it is imperative that you have all the clues at your disposal at all times. This requires one simple task: memorize the script verbatim. Do this immediately. Be diligent.

4. Follow your gut.

Your journey is long. You will face dubious doubts and dangers, frustrations and fears. Surprises lurk around every corner. You’ll face a cast of characters (literally), and at any moment, someone may try to force your hand.



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