Memorizing lines quickly and accurately is an incredibly important skill for actors to have. I am in awe of actors on soap operas in particular, as they have to learn new scripts on a daily basis. (Not to mention that soap opera storylines are ridiculously convoluted.) Here are some helpful tips for learning and memorizing your lines.
- First and foremost, and I cannot emphasize this enough, is to start learning your lines as soon as you are cast in your role and receive your script. It will take you the same amount of time to learn your lines now as it will a week before opening night, and you’ll be a heck of a lot less stressed now than then.
- Spend some time every day with your script. Make it part of your daily routine. That way when you sit down with your script (or stand, whatever works best for you!) your brain will automatically go into “learning lines” mode.
- Don’t paraphrase. Learn your lines exactly as they are written. The playwright wrote them that way for a reason. Not to mention that your fellow castmates are depending on your lines to cue them for their lines. Paraphrasing is a huge pet peeve of mine — it’s lazy and inconsiderate.
- Figure out your learning style. There are three styles of learning: visual, auditory (hearing), and kinesthetic (tactile/physical). If you’re visual, you’ll benefit from reading and re-reading and re-reading your lines. If you’re auditory, try recording yourself speaking the lines out loud and then listening to the recording over and over. If you’re kinesthetic, you might benefit from reading your lines while walking around, watching yourself in the mirror, or writing your lines out by hand (first copying from the script, then from memory). I’ve done all of these techniques before! I find handwriting to be incredibly useful.
- Enlist help. Get a family member or friend to read opposite you or test you on your lines. Make it fun! Why not invite your fellow castmates over for a “learning lines” party? Don’t forget the snacks! Now is also the time to invite that cute person in your cast to learn lines together… 😉
Got any bright ideas for making memorization less painful… or even, dare I say it, enjoyable? Share them in the comments!
UPDATE (January 26, 2013): I’ve added a sixth tip for you!
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I’ve had this survey of a number of actors’ memorization styles sitting in my aggregator for almost four years, just waiting for somewhere to refer to them…