Scintilla13 Day 9

What is the longest thing you know by heart (for example, a prayer, speech, commercial jingle, etc.)? Why did you learn it?

I don’t think I could recite it now, though I haven’t tried. But for a while, I had committed to memory the first 15 minutes of the one-man script, “Give ’em Hell, Harry!” 15 minutes may not sound like much, but as an actor I can assure you, it’s more than you think when you have to commit it to memory.

Not that I had to commit it to memory. But I own a copy of it, and a few years ago I toyed with the idea of seeing if I could perform it, either in local theatres, or in schools or something like that. Truman is one of my favorite historical figures, and with a one-man show, the only person you need to be on board is yourself. A natural win.

But I wanted to see if I could commit such large amounts of text to memory and still perform them well. I committed about five minutes of it at a time, (still a lot). About once a week, I’d then add the next five minutes, recite that to myself, and then recite the previous parts, with the new section tacked on the end.

Like I said, after about a month or so, I had committed about the first 15 minutes of it to memory. I then took a break from adding more sections, and just performed that 15 minutes once a day or so.

I wouldn’t always get all the way through, but I did about half the time, and I have little doubt that if I had continued, I would have not only mastered that chunk, but eventually the entire show.

I gave up on the project as other things presented themselves in my life. It’s time consuming to be in any show, let alone a show when you are the only actor. But I am glad I did it, because I learned not only an even greater appreciation for Truman, (a lot of the words are really his) but for theatre and language, two things I already value highly.

The project isn’t dead, by the way. I still have my copy of the script, and may yet give it a try in the future. My opportunities for such things are slightly greater now, and the time may come where I once again commit the first 15 minutes, in addition to the rest of it, to memory.

(This post is part of the Scintilla Project.)


  1. I regularly think how cool it would be to do a one-woman show. Portraying my poems, maybe or perhaps portraying me and all the literary grannies I love so much. Hmmm. There you and #scintilla13 go, opening my mind to new ideas!

    • That sounds like an excellent idea, and I think you should look into it.

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