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9 Techniques for students to memorize their lines

The memorization of the lines should take place as soon as possible and as soon as possible in the rehearsal process. The sooner your students get their hands on the screenplays, the easier it will be for them to get into the character’s movements and gestures and gain a deeper understanding of them and the show as a whole. It is important for students to really understand what they are saying and why they are saying it, but it is also important for them to memorize their lyrics as they are written in the script – the paraphrasing is not cool.

The following techniques include a variety of learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Ask students to try different techniques to see what works best for them.

1. The basic technique tried and true – Ask a friend or family member to read your lines and recite them aloud. You could even organize a “learning verse party” and meet with your co-workers to practice in a group. Memorizing and tying at the same time – bonus!

2. Copy your lines by hand onto paper. Then try to write them down from memory. Return to your script and write down (circle or underline) any missing words or phrases. If handwriting is not your strong point, write your lines on a computer or phone. You could even send text messages back and forth with your stage partner, or start a group conversation with your dedicated co-workers.

3. Write the first letter of each line on a separate piece of paper. For example, if your line is “Let’s have a drink,” writes LGST D. Read the paper and say aloud your real line to match the letters. This ensures that you say the correct line and do not paraphrase.

4. Write the reference line on a sheet, with your line on the other side of the card. Have a friend or family member interview you. If you want to be more organized, write the number of the act and scene from which the line comes in the upper right corner of each book. You may also want to make a hole in the top left corner and place the cards on a ring so that they remain in the correct order.

5. Draw a comic strip of your lines, either on the edge of the script next to the line, or on a separate piece of paper. For example, if your turn is “Let’s have a drink,” you could draw a stick figure that enters the living room and orders a drink.

6. Register by speaking the lines with a recording device (For example, iPhones have a voice notification app) and you listen to them while you do other things, such as go for a walk. Say your lines out loud at the same time and try to match your recording.

7. Register by saying the CUE lines and leave spaces blank to say your rows aloud to each other.

8. Get up and move while reading the script, rather than sitting or lying passively. Even better – practice blocking and use vocal intonations as directed. This helps your muscle memory to grow stronger.

9. Write your lines on your Post-it notes and stick them on the mirror so you can read them while brushing your teeth or arranging your hair. Put them in your closet. If you want to go further, use color-coded Post-it notes for different acts or scenes.

Click here for a free printable tip sheet.

Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage fighter from London, Ontario, Canada. She writes on the blog at www.kerryhishon.com.

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