Monday, May 26, 2014

What the Iliad has to do with Chris Hadfield

A couple of weeks ago, I got together with my setmate for the Iliad, Catherine Sheehan, and our "assistant director" Tom Lips, for a sightly belated team rehearsal/coaching session. Each group in a set has an AD who's helping out with some of the coaching so it's not all on Jan and Jennifer to get us to our best performances.

I meant to blog more about the whole process of learning my part of the Iliad, but you know how time goes. But I'd been feeling a looming sense of . . . unease . . . about my memorization process. Namely, that I hadn't really been working on it. But I decided something had to be done when the recurring dreams kicked in (the kind where you're rinkside at the Olympics, about to compete for Canada in pairs ice dancing with your friend Terry, and realize that you don't have a routine worked out, and you can't exactly wing it without finding Terry and talking it over first, and you can't find Terry anywhere, and the Russian team is already out there on the ice: not that I'm thinking of a specific dream here).

Anyway, my subconscious said, loudly, "FFS, Kate, get your crap together and memorize your stuff! What would Chris Hadfield do?"

(Yes. Really. He has a great chapter in his memoir about he doesn't really feel fear because he knows he is prepared for absolutely anything. How you never have to be anxious if you are really, truly prepared. And knowing how deathly nervous I'm going to be on June 14, I cling to that advice.)

So, I buckled down. There was a godsend of a night when I was babysitting my friends' son, and after I got him down for the night I walked around their living room learning the whole segment where the gods enter the fray and things get seriously fantastical. The success of that was encouraging. The second half (all the hand-to-hand combat) I managed by combining cardio workouts and memorization. I'd jump on the machine, put the binder I keep my script in on the console, and then start running, reading, looking away, repeating, then reading, looking away, repeating. . . Meant I could work on memorizing in convenient 30-minute or hour-long chunks, and I was getting some exercise too. Although I bet I was getting some weird looks from the other gym patrons.

I'm glad I memorize quickly. Within about a week, I could sit down, every night, before I switched out of "work" mode and into "wind down" mode, close my eyes, and say the whole 25-minute piece from beginning to end. So when I got to Tom's house to rehearse, I was pretty sure I could rattle it off. Though I wasn't so sure I wouldn't just be rattling.

I don't think I was. There were spots I thought I could put a little more into, but for the first time telling the whole thing in front of a human audience (my cats are another matter) I did okay. The words were all there (except one word, "astonishing," which blocked me every time, and which I have now changed, just to get it out of my way).

And when it came time to hit the all weekend rehearsal last weekend, I sort of got it, what Hadfield means, because as my time to tell started to loom, I was nervous, but mostly just excited to get going. To step up and take my part of the story forward, as one voice in the chain of voices taking us through. I felt like I knew my words and now it was just a matter of doing.