Being an actor is not an easy job. Great actors and actresses made it look easier because of how perfectly they can do their lines and acting. But the truth is, even pros are also trying their best to memorize their lines.
If you’re an aspiring actor and wondering how you can straighten up your lines successfully, here are some tips to help you memorize your lines:
Effective Tips to Memorize Your Lines
- Read the script like a novel
When reading our favorite novels, it’s so easy for us to get lost in the moment and get into the scenario of each scene. By the end of reading the book, we just remember every line, word and scene. That’s the reason seasoned directors and actors highly recommend to read the script ahead to get the feel of the story. You should be able to familiarize your role in the story.
- Do one section at a time
Our brains are not like computers that can easily process and store data. No, it doesn’t work that way. But our advantage with computers is how we can retain those memories in our head without having anyone to delete it. Approach your lines by section and immerse yourself to the depth of it. Don’t jump into the next section if you don’t understand the flow of the previous one. Take your time to understand every line in each section.
- Read your lines with feelings
Read your lines out loud when you’re alone in the room and accompany it with some movements. Read it as if you’re doing the act with feelings. You’re already practicing how the line will flow in the scene, how your body language will compliment and how you can deliver the overall performance perfectly. Do this repeatedly until you get the hang of it and you’ll feel more comfortable with the lines.
- Possess the right train of thought
When our minds are jumbled, it’s harder to memorize and even think. Before your practice and memorize your lines, clear your thoughts first with any distractions and find a quiet place to practice. Focus on each line instead of memorizing all sections together. You can make notes if you like to improve your memorization.
- Think positive
The moment you receive your script and find out how complicated your lines are, you start panicking and thinking, will I memorize all this? This is a negative and unprofessional approach as an artist. First, accept the script sincerely and take your time to take it all in. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed with the weight of the role or you’ll end up not giving justice to the role, entrusted to you. Always be positive and think that you can do your best to memorize your lines.
- Visualize your role
In sports, arts and business, visualization is a type of positive conditioning that offers positive effects to a person. Just make sure you are visualizing something positive. Have the time to visualize your role and how you would like that person in the story would be. Imagine how you’re going to play that role and what you can do to make the scene more powerful and convincing. Once you have visualized yourself playing that role, memorizing lines easily follows after. It won’t even feel like you need to memorize that hard.
- Always do repetitions
Just like what they say, practice makes perfect. It’s the same for memorizing lines. Do a series of repetitive practice with every line, scene, blocking and movements. Do this regularly so you don’t have a room to forget your lines out of nowhere. Doing repetitions is like having a daily routine, you come to stick to it and get used to it. Then, it becomes a part of you. Once the lines have become your daily routine, there’s no chance you’ll forget your lines anymore. Work hard and focus on practicing until you make it.
- Memorize the scenes instead of lines
For some seasoned actors, this type of approach works very well. There are types of people who learn better through visuals. Get creative and make your mind wander through every scenario in the story. Memorize those scenarios by heart and the script that you need to memorize will become easier. Understanding the scenes help actors to portray the lines quite effectively. You need to know if it’s a dramatic, comedic or romantic scene. This way, you’ll understand and memorize your lines better.
- Don’t think that you’re memorizing
The more you think that you need to memorize, the more your brain does the opposite. Yes, it’s weird how it works for some but it makes sense. Instead, use an opposite approach where you don’t force yourself to memorize. Instead think about it as a natural thing to do. Being obligated to memorize makes the task more troublesome and at times we end up failing it. You’re not in school where you need to memorize every term and definitions. Let it come to you naturally and understand the lines by heart.
- Practice with a co-actor
Teamwork can really go a long way. Make every practice worthwhile by inviting one of your colleagues to join you doing some script writing. If both of you will work on scene together, then it’s even better. You can get helpful inputs from them where you can improve on memorizing and delivering your lines. Don’t be scared to approach your co-actors. They’ll be happier to cater to you and also learn from you as well to make all the scenes more believable. Also, you can talk to the director and ask what he expects from your role in each scene. This way, you can understand your lines better and even memorize it in no time.
Pursuing an acting career has a lot of responsibilities and skills to master, and that includes memorizing your line right. But don’t just memorize it, accept the role you play, visualize your new role and take each line to heart.
David Nilsen is the former editor of Fourth & Sycamore. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can find more of his writing on his website at davidnilsenwriter.com and follow him on Twitter as @NilsenDavid.