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Memorization Techniques


Many young actors have a hard time getting, what we call in the theater world, “off-book” or having their lines memorized. When they are left speechless on stage from confusion what are they to do to prevent this?

There are two main reasons that younger actors may be struggling to get memorized. The first one is they are not putting in the time outside of rehearsal to get their lines down. They do not understand how much effort it takes to be off-book. All it takes is about 20-30 minutes one or two times a day to get in fairly quickly but some actors do not want to take the time to do that with school during the day. Two, the young actor has no method of memorizing their lines aside from reading them over and over again which in many cases does not help people when it comes to dialogue. 

Here are some helpful hints to help your young actors improve their memorization skills,


  • If they are struggling with cues for entering and exiting have them make flashcards, either physical or on a website like Quizlet, make the question their cue. Or if they have a monologue break it up into easy-to-digest sections. 
  • Run the lines and then write them down over and over until they are perfect. 
  • Have the student record themself saying the lines so they can repeat the recording, this also helps with their tone in acting. 
  • Pick out keywords that connect the line to get the gist of it down. 
  • Practice with fellow actors or a stand-in to read for other characters.  
  • For long monologues write the first letter of each word in a string and read it back by looking at the words. 
  • Know your fellow actor’s lines, know at least the line before and after yours. 
  • Trigger words, think about why you’re saying your line or what you are responding to that happened before your line. 
  • Slow it down, and pick out each word in a line. Emphasize a different word each time you practice it and figure out which one gives it the proper meaning. 

Some of these tips won’t work for everyone since no one’s brain works the same. Hopefully, these tips can help your young actors get off-book quicker and working more on their acting than their memorization.

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