How to Learn Lines

The question of how to learn lines plagues many actors. There are many different techniques to memorization; the trick is to find the method that works best for you. The most important thing to remember when learning lines is to not focus on simply remembering the lines. Work on remembering the character and their thoughts too.

Many actors decide to memorize lines as soon as they receive a script. By memorizing the words on their own, they can then add layers of thoughts, actions and emotions without stumbling over the right words. Often, these actors feel that memorizing the lines separate from their goals and motivations allows them to be more flexible in their choices in case the director decides to take a different direction.

Crystal Kramer, a casting director in Toronto, heavily promotes the Rote memorization method. Actors are encouraged to recite their lines emotionless until they can recite them five times while doing other activities. This method is helpful as it provides a way to gauge how off-book an actor is.

There are also a great number of actors who leave memorizing lines as their last priority. They spend time with the script and the characters, studying the thoughts and feelings that are apparent in the scene. By learning the character first, they feel that they can respond to the other character accurately, even if they forget the line. This allows the actor to recover more quickly from a mind blank. Often, many actors find that by the time they are done studying the script, they have the lines memorized without focusing on the lines at all.

There are also many different tricks that some actors find to be helpful. Some recommend reading the script before bed, as they believe the brain will process what is done right before sleep throughout the night. Others rely on things such as scents to improve memory. Some actors try not to completely memorize the lines at all, as they feel it gives a more realistic performance as the character tries to figure out what to say.

Learning lines can feel like a daunting task, but with practice, memorization will come much easier. It’s important for actors to not spend too much time worrying about memorizing and not enough time focusing on the character and performance. If you have done work on your character and script, and are confident in the work, the lines will come. By trying different methods and finding what works best for you, you’ll find that learning lines is not so frightening.