So you say you want to be an Actor, but you hate memorizing lines?
The memorization process can be worse than pulling out teeth for some, and for others it’s just plain scary. When I was an actor, I used to fear that the moment I would go on stage, I would blank out and forget all my lines. However, I never did.
So… before you get all worried that acting is not for you because of your troubles with memorization, fear not, as I have provided some tips below that could help you.
As a director and acting coach, I will tell you this: Memorization is not something to take lightly. It is part of your job and in order to fully experience stepping into the role of a character, your lines must be 110% memorized. That’s right, 110%. Meaning, you should not know your lines pretty well, and almost perfectly, but instead they must be ingrained in your mind where you no longer have to think about them. I always tell my actors that they should know their lines as well as they know the Alphabet Song: “A, B, C, D, E, F, G…”
When I direct my plays, I give my actors a date where I expect them to be “Off Book”- which means all lines must be memorized and scripts are out of their hands. If they cannot meet that date, then the actor and I will have a problem. I find the actor who shows up On Book, unprofessional! To me, memorization is part of their job, and in order to fully be in the scene they are performing in, they cannot be concerned about remembering a line!
Memorization is not only a problem for actors who have no experience or are just beginning their careers. Seasoned working actors also have trouble memorizing their lines. But luckily, there are things an actor can do to help with this important process.
Here are some TIPS to HELP YOU WITH MEMORIZATION:
- MEMORIZE YOUR LINES FLAT, WITHOUT EMOTION: The moment your memorize your lines the way that you think you should say them, it will be very hard for you to unlearn them any other way. So memorize them flat. To do this, I tell my actors to learn their lines the following way:
a. ROBOTIC– say the lines as if you are a robot.
b. ITALIAN RUN- say your lines so fast, on speed, without any pauses.
c. WITH MOVEMENT– Do jumping jacks while saying your lines without any emotion at all.
Memorizing you lines without emotion will allow you to be fresh and react to your scene partner without looking or sounding rehearsed. Your lines will be new every time you say them, instead of memorized one way that you cannot undo.
2. BREAK YOUR LINES INTO WORKABLE SECTIONS: It is impossible to learn all your lines at once, or at least it is much more difficult to do so. Therefore, break your lines into sections. Give yourself a deadline where each section must be memorized. Do not move on to the next section until you have completely memorized the one you were working on. I actually color code my sections and encourage my actors to do so too. I even have them give each section a title to summarize what it is about. This helps them remember the lines once they know the main idea and motivation for them.
3. HAVE A FRIEND TEST YOU: I cannot tell you how many times I worked with an actor where they worked on their lines by themselves, and then forget them as soon as they start working with me. So I recommend asking a friend to help you memorize your lines. Give them your script so you cannot look. Once you forget a line, simply say: “LINE” and have your friend feed it to you. And every time you make a mistake, your friend can immediately point it out, and then you can redo the line until you get it right.
4. WRITE OUT YOUR LINES. Writing out your lines several times is a great way to help you memorize them. Keep writing them until they are perfect.
5. MOVE WHILE YOUR MEMORIZE: Do an activity such as cleaning your house, or jumping jacks. Not only will this help you memorize your lines, but when you start rehearsing you will not freeze the moment you add movement.
6. REPEAT, PRACTICE, REPEAT and PRACTICE: You must be willing to repeat your lines and go over them any chance you get. Practice makes perfect and knowing your lines requires you to constantly repeat them. When I direct a play, I require my cast to speed thru lines together prior to every performance.
7. RECORD YOUR LINES If you are an auditory learner, recording your lines is helpful because then you can listen to them over and over again.
Here are some of the best apps now available to actors with smart phones and tablets that can assist your with MEMORIZATION:
1. The Rehearsal 2 app- (Device: iPhone & iPad) Price: $19.99 “This app allows you to organize your script for auditions and rehearsals. The app has been used professionally by television and film actors, and it’s one of the most powerful rehearsal apps of its kind. The app allows you to break the script down into scenes, track continuity and create reports. You can also use it to plan your blocking, shots and storyboards to discuss them with the director. Finally, the app allows you to record your voice and email the performance, making voice acting interviews a breeze.”
2. My Lines– (Device: iPhone & iPad) Price: $9.99 “Whether you’re practicing on your own or soliciting the help of a friend or costar, My Lines can help make memorizing your lines easy. This tool organizes the script in a way that will highlight your lines separately from those of the rest of the cast, to make it easy to keep track of your part. You can also easily place bookmarks and have your lines read to you through audio recordings.”
3. Scene Partner (Device: iOS) Price: $4.99 (or free with ads) “There are numerous line memorization apps out there, but Scene Partner is a fine balance between price and effectiveness (particularly if the aforementioned Rehearsal 2, at $20, is a stretch out of budget). Even supports the ability to upload your own scripts and rent other big titles.
If you are interested in seeking my acting services, free group online acting classes and playwriting class, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also visit my website at www.theperformingartscoach.com
Here is a link to video that explains more ABOUT ME: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CxsX7v944Q