My good friend, Virginia Kull (look for her on HBO's Boardwalk Empire), gave me some great advice. That whole "be in the moment" thing can seem so elusive. What is the key to being in the moment when your every move is being watched by an audience or a camera?
I asked Virginia about this, and she told me to "uber-memorize the lines." Know them better than you think you need to know them. Roz Coleman (the on-set coach for HBO's In Treatment) told our on-camera acting class that you should know the lines so well that they come "trippingly off the tongue."
I kept these two phrases in my head as I prepared for my current show, Something Outrageous. You would find me walking to the subway, saying the lines as fast as I possibly could under my breath, going over and over the parts where my mind would "blank out". And it worked!
I feel so much more freedom performing these monologues. I realized that lines are an actor's task; thoughts are a person's task. When your lines come trippingly off the tongue, they seem to come from the same part of your brain as normal speech. So you are no longer an actor, but rather a person having a conversation. You are in the moment.
Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom! Thanks, Virginia and Roz.