As previously mentioned by Christian, books down, a.k.a. off-script, is a bad day. I share with him the experience of having – once upon a long time ago – been the annoying twat who knows their lines so early on the play's hardly been cast. It is puzzling, bewildering, annoying and bloody scary to find yourself unable to remember your lines with the former ease; and an additional problem is that those who remember you from the days of yore still expect you to be line-perfect from day one. Including, and probably mostly, yourself. You have A Reputation to Uphold, at least in your mind. Which doesn't help in the least when you step over the edge into the screaming void of having no script in your hand. These days, when I go off-script, the world around loses all solidity, three-word sentences become entirely unfamiliar uses of language never hitherto encountered, and a wild flailing and failing is all that I seem to manage.
We Shakers had that day yesterday. Cunningly, I had already put myself through the horrible experience a week early. It helps. For once it's done, it's never quite as bad again (at least not until opening night). As the scriptless days wear on, places start appearing in the play where – against all the odds – you find yourself doing the Wiley Coyote thing: as long as you don't think about it, you can stop the free-fall, you can walk on air, even with an amount of panache and that cocksure way you must cultivate for stage purposes. As long as you don't look down. Or count days until the opening night.