Tips and Tricks to Memorizing Your Theater Lines!

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#1. Use emotion to build your character

When you are first selected for a role, understand the emotional context of the character you are playing; the lines will follow. Read the script multiple times to let the character’s traits be accurately represented. Don’t focus on memorizing line by line, rather, let the character be defined by emotional states, not by words! If you focus on reading or memorizing text without emotion, you will train your brain to repeat words. On the other hand, if you do understand and practice the character’s personality and emotion, you will be able to bring the character to life . Exaggerating your character’s speech with muscle movements, facial expression, and imagery will put you ahead of your peers. Additionally, repetition is of key importance.

#2. Understand location and movement

Use the set location and movement as a reminder of what lines are coming up next. Unless your play or role is a “black box” set, there will be many props which help que you for your next line. Practicing with other actors and seeing how the play flows will help with line recall and memory. Repetition is Key!

#3.  Use Psychology To Your Advantage

Learning psychology teaches us that handwriting notes in class increases memory retention. Write out all your lines by hand and then practice acting and reading them aloud. Make marks and use colors, highlights and spacing to make a visual map of your lines. Many times you will be able to remember these visual cues in places you otherwise have difficulty remembering the words. Especially if you are a visual learner, it may help you very much to start visualizing the written words while speaking them on stage. Even so, don’t forget that repetition is really the key to memorization.

#4. Record yourself and listen

Record yourself saying your lines. Then playback and for emotion, clarity, stability, and character accuracy. You can make improvements very quickly on your work.  Recording and listening to yourself is a good way to become more confident in your speech, because you can correct the parts you didn’t like! Try different enunciations of words and different speeds of speaking. Do it multiple times, because repetition is KEY.

#5. Clarity and Fluidity

Memorizing lines is much more than repeating words on a page (although it may not feel like it at first!). Keep working on clarity, fluidity and consciousness of your lines and their context in the production as you make your character come to life. Study the entire play so that you understand the overall message of your character.

#7. Spacing out the text

Practicing in chunks tends to work better than repeating many sentences over and over.  Try not to memorize in a way that you become fixated on the literal order of your lines, but keep the order based on your lines remembering the concept of the on-stage interactions and how they meet with your lines; this will help with improvisation if you go blank on stage. (Even when practicing in chunks, repeat the chunks over and over because repetition is key.)

#8. Practice with other cast members

Practicing reading lines out loud with other cast members is a very quick way to memorize. Come to rehearsal with a good understanding of the play and your lines before you practice with other play members. Be courteous to cast members by coming prepared! If you haven’t put in the effort before rehearsal, it becomes counter-productive to the practice. Fellow cast members will be more able and more willing to cue you when you need help if you have clearly taken the process seriously. Don’t get frustrated with the many iterations of rehearsal. Relax and have fun. Particularly when there’s so much going on in the rehearsal…you guessed it…repetition is key.

#10. There’s an app for that

There are many apps for rehearsing! If you are alone and need to practice, this is a great and creative way to do it. The Rehearsal App is a good and reputable mobile program to practice rehearsing your lines. The Rehearsal App, and apps like it, typically have features which include script playback, script importation, recording playback and customization –  very useful tools in learning your lines! And…repetition is key.

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