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How To Improve Line Memorization

Created the: 04-06-2020

You’ve tried this: You’re on the stage, or in front of the camera, and then suddenly your inner voice shouts, "What am I supposed to say? Why can't I remember? Come on, remember it now!", and you watch as your fellow actors look at you concerned. Here are our suggestions on how to improve line memorization.

Understand your character

Don't just read your lines like a robot. Understanding the meaning behind the conversation you’re having in a scene will give you a greater understanding of the motivations behind your character. This makes it easier to remember your lines: Your co-actor says A. Therefore, it is natural that your character will respond with B.

Practise your lines out loud

It is much easier to remember lines if you say them out loud. At the same time, you get to perfect your articulation so the dialogue sounds authentic.

Learn your lines in stages

If you have a starring role with a lot of lines, remembering them all at once can be challenging. Luckily, you can learn your dialogue scene by scene. Breaking your dialogue into scenes or sections is a great way to help you remember everything. Learn the lines from scene 1 before practising with others, then move to scene 2, and so on…

Read the entire scene out loud to yourself many times

Read both your and the other characters’ lines out loud. Repeat the scene 5, 10 or even 15 times, whichever helps you learn best. The result will mean you no longer have to look down at the script. This technique also helps trigger visual memorization.

Write your lines down until they stick

Some people learn best by writing things down. Instead of repetitively reading a scene out loud, write all the lines down. In the end, you won’t need to look at the script anymore.

Practice with a friend

Your friend can help you get back on track if you forget a line without the need for you to break character by looking down at the script.

Record the entire script into an audio file

You can read the entire script out loud to yourself. Then put the audio file you’ve recorded on your phone or another device and listen to it while shopping, riding the bus or exercising.

Apply action to the words

If the direction notes say that your character pours coffee while speaking a line, then make a pouring-coffee motion while practising your line. The combined action with its associated dialogue helps imprint the memory.

If one of these suggestions alone doesn't fully help, try combining several of them. Very few people can remember lines after just one reading, but with enough repetition, most have their lines memorized no matter which technique they use.

Remember that even if you forget a line, it’s not the end of the world. You definitely won’t be the first. Stay in character, keep playing the scene and wait for your co-actors to inevitably come to your rescue.