If it’s a speech or a story, I like to memorise what I’m going to say so that I can look at the audience and perform rather than just read. Fine. But I do bring the speech and I bring it on my iPad where I will have been making changes along the way. Also fine.
Just be careful, okay?
I gave a performance last night reading from a script I had in Drafts 4 on my iPad. I’d changed the settings so that the text was extra large and that it was white text on a black background so that I didn’t have an unearthly glow about my chin.
All very, very fine.
But Drafts 4 is for writing and doing things with text, it isn’t for reading. And at one point, about a third of the way through, I smoothly scrolled down to the next paragraph – and my finger caught an on-screen button.
With two hundred people staring at me, this button highlighted half the script, ran a macro over it all, inserted URL links and pasted whatever in the hell I last had on the clipboard. I watched this thing doing rapid-fire editing changes in front of me and saw my script reduced to unreadable rubble.
I realise now that I could’ve picked up the iPad and shook it to undo but have you ever done that in front of a capacity crowd in a theatre? I’d look like I was twitching.
I’ve listened to the recording and I can tell you the moment it happened. But I did have the speech memorised enough that I could carry on. And it worked out. One woman from the audience told me afterwards that my speech had made her cry. I thanked her but I was actually thinking “yeah, me too”, though probably for different reasons.
Lesson: don’t press buttons. More practical lesson: lock your script early and save it as PDF rather than keeping it as editable text.