There is a misconception going around that we want to clear up. There is no such thing as being "over rehearsed." Ever.
We have this little joke between the two of us. We always have multiple projects in the works- both together and independently. When we feel pressed for time and want to move on to the next thing, we often say to each other, "It's fine. You look fine". 😑
The problem is that "fine" is never what anyone wants to hear.
Does your old material feel "fine"? If so, it's not from too much rehearsal. It's from letting it get stale.
If you feel like your song or monologue is over-rehearsed, ask yourself these questions:
Do you have a crystal clear "moment before"? - Monologues don't suddenly happen, they are a reaction to an event, a statement or an action. That clear moment before allows us to drop in on the middle of a conversation, which is much more interesting.
Is my imaginary "scene partner" that I've chosen the strongest choice for this piece? - Try different people in different scenarios to help discover something new in your delivery.
For instance, if your song is directed to your significant other, proclaiming your ❤️ for them, try changing that person to a parent, child or best friend. The type of love changes with the person and so will the intention.
Are you playing the opposites? - In his incredible book, Audition, Michael Shurtleff says it best, "Consistency is the heart of dull acting. In all of us there exists love and there exists hate...it is the actor's creation of opposites that develops conflict, and therefore drama, and therefore interest."
Think about the lyric "excited AND scared" in Sondheim's INTO THE WOODS. Little Red's character has laid out two very different feelings. She's terrified of the Wolf, but at the same time the thought of "straying off the path" is a little thrilling.
What outcome does your character expect? - Just like changing up your imaginary scene partner, if you change what your character wants to happen, it will color your tactics in a completely different way.
Hopefully, if you apply these new tactics, you'll find that you can breathe new life into your character- whether you've been playing it 8 times a week for an audience, or just dusting off an old monologue.
An actor's work is never done, and that's why we love what we do. Challenge yourself to experiment with every song and monologue in your book. If you've asked yourself the questions above and you STILL feel nothing works or it's just "fine"...then you clearly have little connection to the material, and it's time to drop it from your book, and that's...fine.😉