Ode To A Line Run

17 Aug

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Lines. 

Running them ad-nauseum, just to make sure that they stick.  Mini pockets that don’t. For any number of reasons. 

…In this case: quick-succession repetition.

Pamela Edwards (the Brit), has a habit of repeating what she and other people say, forty or fifty times, but in slightly different orders.  Remembering which one we are on, gets tricky.  Also: the “one-worders.”

…This is an actual thing.  It’s not the proper name (prob’ly), but it’s what I call them.  They happen in Mamet, and comedy, frequently…and in farce, they run rampant. Mostly to show awkward social skills and sexual tension.

When you put someone who repeats things constantly (only in slightly different order each time) in a one-worder situation, you get something that looks a little like this:

(…Actually, you get something that looks a LOT like this…in that this is directly from the script.)

Hannay: That’s alright. Well —

Pamela: Well–

Hannay: –we ought to be–

Pamela: Yes —

Hannay: –going I suppose.

Pamela: Mmm.

Hannay: Right. Um —

Pamela: Yes?

Hannay: Which —

Pamela: What?

Hannay: — room are they staying in?

Pamela: Who?

Hannay: What?

Pamela: Who?

Pamela: Those two men?

Pamela: Sorry?

Hannay: The two men you overheard?

Pamela: Staying in?

Hannay: Mmm.

Pamela: Well, they’re not.

Hannay: Sorry?

***

…Believe it or not, these kind of lines aren’t the easiest to get.  Not only because you are telling a story about nothing, and have the panic situation of cutting the other guy off in time…(often having less than one word in order to remember what yours is again), but also the fact that if you fuck up at any point in the sequence, it all goes to absolute hell in a handbasket.  The beat-structure HAS to be the way it is written, or it’s like throwing a stick through the spoke of a bicycle, going at full speed down a heel.  Crash and burn, baby.

…And I guess the lesson I learned today, (while picking metaphorical gravel out of my bloodied hands, knees, and face), is that I have some more work here to do.

By the third section of this repeated dialogue style, I had completely lost any sense of rhythm, in utter despair of constantly fucked with word repetitions, and the final clip in my one-wording cue-a-thon turned into this: (Actual lines in quotes.)

Prompter: “Well…”

Me: Yes?

Prompter: No, “well.”

Me: “Well.” Yes?

Prompter: No.

Me: What?

Prompter: “Well…”

Me: And I said, yes.

Prompter: No, ‘yes.’  Just “well…”

Me: What?

Prompter: It’s just, “Well.”

Me: Mine?

Prompter: Yes.

Me: So this time it’s just, “Well…” and “Well.”

Prompter: Yes.

Me: Okay, so take it back to the beginning.

Prompter: That was the beginning.  “Well…”

Me: “Well…you’re a free man…”

(Long pause.)

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: Yes?

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: What? Line?

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: No, not ‘cue,’ my line.

Prompter: “…Anyway.”

Me: I know that’s next, but what is my actual line?

Prompter: “…ANYWAY.”

Me: What?  Read the whole thing to me.

Prompter: “Well…you’re a free man anyway.”

Me: Oh, it’s the end of the line this time.  Cuz it began it before, the last time…

Prompter: Right.

Me: …Followed by…?

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: No, I know, I get it.  What’s the next cue.

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: “Right” is the cue.

Prompter: Yes.

Me: Can we go back?

Prompter: “Well…”

Me: “Well.  You’re a free many anyway.”

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: “Saved the country too.”

Prompter: “We both did that.”

Me: “Not really.”

Prompter: “Anyway…better be um–”

Me: Yes?

Prompter: “Right.”

Me: What?

Prompter: No, it’s “Right.”

Me: Which one?

Prompter: The first…one.

Me: So it’s Yes, Right, What…?

Prompter: It’s, “Right.” “What.” “Quite.”

Me: “Right.” “What.” “Quite.”

Promper: Then, “Yes.”

Me: THEN, “Yes!”

Prompter: — Right.

Me: THERE’S where it was…I knew a ‘yes’ was somewhere in there.  So, cue at the top of the one-worders again?

Prompter: “Anyway…better be um–”

Me: “Right.”

Prompter: “D’you want to–”

Me: “What?” 

Prompter: “Nothing.”

Me: “Quite.”

Prompter: “Better be going.”

Me: “Yes.”

Prompter: “Got the decorators in and — you know…”

Me: “Certainly do.”

Prompter: “Well — bye.”

Me: ” Bye.”

Prompter: …And scene.

Me: FUCK YOU, PAMELA EDWARDS, AND YOUR DIALOGUE WRITING TEAM!

Prompter: Want to run it again?

Me: Not even with a bottle of Jameson in my hand.

Prompter: So…a break?

***

…So this was my break.

I guess.

…Obviously have some more work to do.

…So, I guess I’ll go back to doing it. Then.

Think kind thoughts for me…

~D

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One Response to “Ode To A Line Run”

  1. prewitt1970 August 17, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Note to self: order swal a case of Jamesons, chocolate and anti-anxiety pills. Lol
    You’ll do great you always do. And if you don’t you can fake the shit out of it and nobody will know 😉
    Good luck.
    Benjamin

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