I went to a play yesterday, the last performance of the play's run... and a few times the actors couldn't remember their lines...the actor's nightmare. I think they should call it the audience's nightmare. I sat their in such empathetic pain for the two people on stage. Both trying to figure out how to get the scene back on track so they could continue forward. I kept thinking....someone help these people. Diane L. and I would look at each other and I would mouth "OMG."
It is so scary to be up on the stage when that happens. You break into a sweat, your mind races, every voice in your head is screaming 'WHAT'S THE LINE, WHAT'S THE LINE." Pretty hard to come up with what you are supposed to say when that's the only thing you hear in your head. Note to self.... need to work on lines and to know the structure of the scenes backwards and forwards.
I had a wonderful teacher/director early on in my career, his name was Michael Gordon. He directed José Ferrer in his Oscar winning performance of Cyrano de Bergerac . I was working with Michael on one of my first theatrical productions, everyone else was so much more experienced than I was. I was nervous all the time.... wanting to please him, wanting to be good. After the actor's nightmare happened to me early in that run, I sat down and cried. And he said, "Kid, next time...and there will be a next time, just stop whatever you are doing on stage, stand there for a second, take a deep breathe, figure out the next thing you DO remember in the scene and pick it up from there. The rest of the cast will follow." Worked like a charm. Thank you Michael.