Here is the best and easiest way to memorize lines as an actor.
Learn how techniques and tricks actors can use to memorize lines for a TV show, movie, and the theater.
Memorizing lines tricks:
- Recording your lines
- Reading out loud
- Repetition tricks
- Follow the actor’s three-step plan – Focus on the character’s wants needs and desires
- Use the “memory palace” technique
- Don’t memorize lines at all
Recording your lines
The easiest way to learn lines for a movie or TV show is to record all the lines and play them back and say them along with the recording. You can record with your computer, phone, or even a recorder. However, it is very important to hear the cue (the line before yours), so you know when to say your line. Play it over and over and say your lines along with the recording. Then when you know it better, pause the recording after the cue line and say try to say your line. Listen to that line and see if you memorized it right and then try again.
Another way people learn lines including reading the script and covering your lines up. Here’s how you can do it. Read the cue line and then try to say your line while it is covered up. This works even better when you are working with a partner. Another unique way to memorize your lines includes looking at the cue line and then trying to type your lines without looking at the script.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo discovered reading information aloud to yourself improves your memory.
“This study confirms that learning and memory benefit from active involvement,” said Colin M. MacLeod, a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Waterloo, who co-authored the study with the lead author, post-doctoral fellow Noah Forrin. “When we add an active measure or a production element to a word, that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable.”
The study tested four methods for learning written information, like a script, including reading silently, hearing someone else read, listening to a recording of oneself reading, and reading aloud in real time. Results from tests with 95 participants showed that the production effect of reading information aloud to yourself resulted in the best remembering.
“When we consider the practical applications of this research, I think of seniors who are advised to do puzzles and crosswords to help strengthen their memory. This study suggests that the idea of action or activity also improves memory. And we know that regular exercise and movement are also strong building blocks for a good memory,” said Professor MacLeod.
One user explained the best way to memorize lines revolves around repetition. “Repetition of lines can be helpful, sometimes just breaking it into chunks can be the best thing to do, slowly learn one line, then add another one or two. After that, try combining all 3. rinse and repeat, so on so forth until you complete the entire speech. Otherwise, if you bounce lines of friends, that can sometimes help.”
Another user commented, “I find that writing the lines down one by one and memorizing each word that way to be more helpful than verbal memorization, as I tend to picture the script in my mind sometimes when I get stuck, and being able to picture it as a paragraph in my handwriting works better. I usually end up filling 3-6 pages, back to back, adding words each time I write. I also like to challenge myself and write it in different fonts and at different speeds, so that I know I’ve got it.”
Then, there’s the Rude Goldberg technique that focuses on concentrating on why you are saying what you are saying.
“I do a “Rube Goldberg” technique that seems to work: Start with line one, and notice something in it that gives you a reason to say line two, and so on. That’s how we speak and write anyway. One thought leads to the next. I know this sounds basic, but play with the idea of what and how you notice; and use all of your senses. Think of everything in the circumstance that could lead the character to the next thought. Usually, it helps to have a trigger word in each line.”
Follow a Three Step Plan
Like the Pimsleur method of learning new languages, repeating the same words over and over and over will burn them into your brain.
Second, internalize the storyline and your character’s wants, needs, desires, etc. at any given point in the story. If you know the story and know what you want in critical places, it will aid in your memorization — and also save your ass if you drop a line.
Third – blocking helps with memorization tremendously. Linking the words you say with walking stage L, or entering, exiting, answering the phone, etc. will cement them in your memory. Associate the physical with the verbal.
The “Memory Palace” Technique
Many feature films have pages upon pages of dialogue; Not to mention five-minute monologues. Often this is extremely stressful and hard to recall all the information.
But, here are two steps to helping you remember all of the lines of dialogue.
- Turn general, boring things that you would not usually remember into something that you can recall and more visual.
- Find a place to store your mental images i.e., your “memory palace.“
Consider your memory palace as a mental image of your home. There’s a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedrooms. Each piece of information that you are trying to memorize is created into a mental image and then placed into your home. The more images, the bigger your home gets.
For instance, if you have a dialogue between you and another character. Break up parts of the script into mental images, and feelings. Then envision those mental images inside a house. As you continue through your script, continue to add mental images inside your memory palace.
When you need to recall your lines go back to your mental palace, and re-envision those mental images as parts of the memory palace; This will help you remember tons of lines, dialogue, and boring information that you would not usually be able to.
This technique can be used in more than just acting. It can help you memorize telephone numbers, names, and other information that is usually boring, or difficult to recall.
Overall: The key is to make your images the most outrageous images you can think of for your script — the more outrageous, the better.
Or…Try not memorizing lines?
A new generation of actors can no longer remember their lines, Bill Nighy said, as he criticized the “discourtesy to their fellow professionals.”
Bill Nighy has a long history in Hollywood working on some of the biggest movies including Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and Hot Fuzz. A brief look at his IMDB page you will see probably one of the hardest working actors in the game. That said, he is not impressed by his fellow actors.
The award-winning actor said it has become cool for actors to deliberately refuse to learn their lines ahead of time, mistakenly believing it will improve their performance.
Arguing actors must refocus their attention on performing correctly. Nighy said the trend had been pushed by actors who “don’t want to do their homework.”
Asked for his advice for young actors, he said: “If you’re doing anything, whether it’s a play or a film, learn every single word that you have to say backward forwards and sideways before you go into a rehearsal room and before you go on a film set.
“That might sound like an obvious thing, but it’s not currently: there is a fashion for not knowing your lines.
“It’s been invented by people who don’t want to do their homework, even as a creative choice.
“You will not become imprisoned by intonations, and therefore it’s a discourtesy to your fellow professionals. “That’s a piece of bull—t from people who don’t do their homework.
“That’s an important thing to know. That’s as important a thing I could say.”
He added: “You can’t rehearse with a book in your hand. And you can’t go and be on the sides of a film set and not know your lines until someone turns the camera.
“There is no lightning. Nothing’s going to strike.
“Rehearsal is not the enemy of spontaneity. The idea is the process is you say the lines over and over and over and over and over again until you can give the impression that you’ve never said them before and it’s just occurred to you. That’s the gig.
“It’s entered the language in a very deep way. Professionals will advise young actors not to learn. It’s got that bad.”
Everyone memorizes differently, so it is good to try different techniques to see what works best.
But, the best thing you can do before you head on set is to do speed through with the other actors. Sit or stand together and go through the lines as quickly as possible. Have someone mark down the lines you miss and read them over and over before you go on.