Or Haber Phrasing is an alternative to memorization.
This innovative communication tool takes away the pressure of memorizing when you’re short on time. Key for auditions and table readings. It helps you to use the paper organically without losing your connection to the other actors. It becomes a part of your behavior rather than a technical approach. Haber Phrasing allows you to be in body and not focused on lines.
One of my current students, David Witts who recently took my Master Weekend Workshop, is on a series (Recovery Road). So you might ask why would he need to take a workshop?
Well, David knew he wasn’t enjoying the audition process and knew he was missing something. He came from England where they, too, prefer you to memorize and be off book. Another pressure to add to your list! Here in Los Angeles, casting directors love to see someone actually walk into the room owning this life! Rather than worried about the lines! David remarked,
“Taking the emphasis from the words on the page to the life in the ‘slice’ (scene) is not only a much more efficient way for a casting director to know what you’ve got to give but for an actor it is a much more fulfilling prospect. The focus is on the creativity beyond the lines given and that’s an all round more enjoyable, less stressful experience (which is great for the over-thinkers among us).”
It is so obvious to all that are watching. The horrible feeling of blankness that comes over the actors face as they realize their brain is empty. There is no next line! Then it feels like being stuck in quick sand as the struggle continues and there is no way out! It not only effects the actor but also takes the casting director out of the present. And makes them believe you are not capable of handling the part and “green” is the color that they see.
You get a call from your agent. They say you have an audition the next morning. You have 7 pages. You have to make dinner, put the kids to sleep or you come back late from work and all of a sudden it is 10 pm. What do you do? I say you take the precious time you have and live the life, create through your imagination and not worry about memorizing the lines. Now if that is a talent of yours and memorizing is easy, then go ahead. It should be an option but not the only one. I believe if you memorize too quickly, you will be stuck in the rythm of the words and it will lock you into a shallow limited time of creating the life.
I dont like to think of Haber Phrasing as a technique because it is not technical. It is actually part of your behavior. The way you hold the paper and the way you stay on the page is a fluid movement that is a natural process that when learned this way, does not get in the way of communication. In fact, it is hard to even see the paper as it is so much a part of your behavior.