Are you wondering how to remember lines for a play? Wondering what the best techniques are make sure you’re off book when the time comes?
Memorization can be tricky business. When it comes to acting, memorizing lines is a necessary evil. Having your lines down quickly and early on in the rehearsal process is helpful not only for you, but also for everyone around you. The sooner your lines are memorized, the sooner the real work can take place.
In order to really connect with the other performers, you need your nose out of your script and your focus on the imaginary world you are creating. Still, memorization does not come easily to everyone, and for those who struggle with it, it can be a huge source of stress.
Below are a few tips for how you can remember your lines quickly and efficiently, removing that unnecessary pressure so that you can focus on your work!
Write it out
Writing out your lines over and over again can be a very helpful method for visual learners especially. By writing the same lines repetitively, it will give the words an image to remember.
Bonus tip: I find writing out the dance steps when learning choreography is also extremely helpful!
Record your lines and play them back to yourself
Another popular technique (especially for remember songs) is recording yourself reciting your lines. You can listen to yourself in your free time and eventually you’ll realize the lines have started sinking in.
Highlight or color coat
I always, always make it a point to highlight my lines and color coat stage directions and other things of importance. This gives color to certain things and helps me remember them when i’m having trouble recalling a line or direction.
The best way to remember lines is by practicing with someone else. I tell my students to run their lines and go back to the beginning of a monologue or scene every time they mess up. The repetition is very helpful, and working through the lines with another person makes it feel more realistic. Instead of having your nose in your script, you’ll be challenged to practice in real time, get to overcome some of the nerves involved in running lines with another person present, and be even more ready for your first off book rehearsal. Find a friend or colleague to practice your lines with.
Don’t just read the lines, say them out loud.
The actor may think that they’re memorizing lines by reading their script, however it it easy for the mind to wander and the lines are no longer being digested. By saying your lines out loud, you have to focus a little bit more on the task at hand, and can also start to play around with how you will deliver the lines onstage or screen.
Make sure you understand what you are saying!
A common reason actors can’t remember their lines (especially with difficult language i.e. Shakespeare) is because they don’t fully understand what they are saying. I highly recommend putting your lines into your own words. If you’re confused by the text, take time to actually translate the text into language you understand. Then, when you memorize the lines word-for-word, you’ll truly understand every word you say. This way, you have a full understanding of the arc of the piece.
Read the WHOLE script, not just your bits.
It is important to understand your character and analyze the text of your piece. By analyzing the entire script, you get a full picture of the story and how your character fits into it.
Memorization can certainly be tricky, and learning how to memorize lines is a skill, and will take practice. But, memorizing your lines doesn’t have to be frustrating, and it doesn’t even necessarily always need to be a challenge. Use these handy tricks the next time you are struggling to remember your lines. Break a leg!