Back when I was acting and preparing for a role, I would usually go through my script, taking a highlighter to all my lines. Then I’d begin the process of memorizing those lines. In time, using a 3×5 card to block out my lines, I’d read the cues and try to repeat my response. It worked, but it was a tedious process that often would fail me when rehearsing off book with my fellow actors. Sound familiar?
Whatever process you may have developed, it undoubtedly has some severe limitations. Fitting quiet time to study into a hectic schedule is one of those limitations. Another can be wearing out your welcome with friends and family pressed into duty to assist as reading partners in the memorization process.
J. Kevin Smith, who for more than 30 years worked as an actor in the New Haven, Connecticut area, realized the need for a better way for actors to prep. This led him to work on developing SCENE PARTNER, an app that can help make learning lines and cues easier for actors. That work began in February 2010 and by November of 2010 SCENE PARTNER 1.0 was available through the iTunes App Store.
SCENE PARTNER takes a digital script and allows the user to assign either male or female voices to the various roles. But, this original program needed improving since there were only two voices available to aurally assist actors.
Those upgrades came with this summer’s release of SCENE PARTNER 1.5. Like its predecessor, the app is available for download to iPhones, iPods and iPads at a cost of $4.99. Smith says the new app still comes with two voices which the actor can assign to other characters in the play, but now as many as 17 additional voices are available for a modest download fee. And actors can assign either American or British accents to those voices, or make them male or female or even children.
Actors who may like to test drive the App can get a free download of SCENE PARTNER Lite. This version limits users to recording and playing back their lines and cues, and according to Smith doesn’t fully represent what can be accomplished with the paid version.
The program also allows the actor to record fellow cast members and upload their voices so the user can get a feel for working with the rest of the cast.
So, how does it work? I’m no techie, but Smith says the app uses Text To Speech technology which gives digital voice to the written word. The program analyzes the text of the script and can be set up to play back the entire script, or just one scene. Actors can also choose to work off their cues only, if they wish.
Smith says this adaptability provides a number of options for actors who can, in time, find the best way SCENE PARTNER can work for them.
For actors who find themselves drawn to performing the same role in different productions, having a SCENE PARTNER account means once your script is uploaded, it’s there forever. And, since we’ve all experienced directors who make this or that change to a script, SCENE PARTNER allows actors to edit the text as needed.
Signing up for a SCENE PARTNER account gives actors access to a growing library of public domain scripts, which includes the entire catalog of Shakespeare’s works.
Don’t have an iPhone, iPad or iPod? Fear not. Smith’s development team is working on a version of SCENE PARTNER that will work with Android phones. He says that App should be available by the Summer of 2012.
So, forget the highlighters, flash cards and driving friends and family crazy with repeated line runs, just head to the iTunes App Store and get your download of SCENE PARTNER, and take preparing for that next role to a higher level.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Exciting update as of 12/15/2011! Leading play publisher and licensor Dramatists Play Service, Inc. and mobile app developer MyTheaterApps.com, LLC have entered into a Worldwide Agreement for e-Script sales through the SCENE PARTNER App. Launching their e-Scripts program in conjunction with DPS, will provide actors and theaters with instant access to the outstanding scripts in the Play Service catalog. The rollout of titles will occur in stages and will begin in early 2012. Get full details on this update here or visit https://www.scenepartnerapp.com/.
Check out even more details regarding SCENE PARTNER in this video: