Professional Writing Major, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Learning a whole bunch of lines can be challenging, especially when you don’t have a lot of time to do so. However, all actors struggle with memorizing lines and it isn’t something one should feel ashamed about.
Here are six tips to memorizing lines:
1. Run lines with someone.
Running lines with someone is one of the most popular methods for memorizing lines. It’s important to make sure you go over lines with a fellow actor−not a friend or your mom. This keeps you accountable and allows you to also gain some insight into how you are acting.
The app Rehearsal 2 is a great app to use if you can’t find anyone to run lines with. You are able to highlight lines, record other characters’ lines and use it as a teleprompter. While it can’t replace another fellow actor, it helps when you need to run over lines.
2. Write your lines out.
Writing out your lines by hand can help your mind absorb them. Take a pencil and paper and write them all out. This is especially good to do when you have long scenes or a speech. Focus on writing only your lines−don’t get distracted by the other lines. Repeat it a few times.
3. Break down the script.
Don’t attempt to memorize the entire script all at once! Break it up in smaller pieces and repeat until those lines are written into your brain. Going section-by-section makes the memorizing less scary and more doable.
4. Take breaks.
While memorizing is important, it is equally as important to rest in-between. After a while of reading lines and going over them, your brain will get tired and need to be recharged. Go for a run, take a quick nap, eat something or even do a relaxing activity; whatever puts you at ease and gives your brain a break.
5. Study your lines before you go to sleep.
Schedule yourself an hour before you go to sleep to go over your lines. However, don’t tire your brain out. Read for your allotted time and then go to bed and sleep for an appropriate amount of time. Staying up late and trying to pound lines in your head won’t do you any favors. You want to be well-rested and able to recall the lines you had previously put in your head.
6. Explore the material.
Ryan R. Williams, an L.A.-based on-camera coach and the founder of Screen Actors System says that an actor should explore the material. He trains his actors to not simply memorize, but to think of the words as part of their story. He says, “It’s not school. Don’t cram. You need to know the lines deeply. How much information have you memorized for school tests? Forgotten. Worthless. Now recall a true story from your own life. Easy.”
He suggests actors conduct a full-text analysis of the scene. Identify the beats, choose your focus and consider the emotional aspects. Look into your character’s backstory and learn more about what makes them tick and what they love. Williams says, “By the time you know the scene as a dramatist, you will have learned the lines organically.”
If you want to learn more about Grand Canyon University’s theatre program within the College of Fine Arts and Production, check out our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.
- Strassberg, R. (2016, May 04). Backstage Experts Answer: 17 Ways to Quickly Memorize Lines. Retrieved from https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/backstage-experts-answer-ways-quickly-memorize-lines-6719/
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.