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Taking an Exam


Congratulation! You made it through the casting process! You got the role. Now the job of learning your lines begins. With a large line-load the task may appear daunting, but you can, you will do it.

Below please find several practical techniques that others have used successfully.  These should be effective whether you are an actor, lecturer, speech-giver or storyteller. 

Ok, not leaving the best tip for last. Here it is! Here is the one that most people seem to use, to great success.

  1. Divide all your lines in sections that are logical to you

  2. Read over the lines a few times

  3. Write down the first letter of each word. Include all capitals, commas, periods, colons, etc.

  4. Read it using first letters only​

  5. Rinse and repeat rule #4. If you need to commit this to long(er)-term memory, repetition is necessary.

Check out this video by Lauren Tothero. She has a lot more tips and info for actors on her channel HERE, as well as some fun Taco stuff.

Here are several other tips that some people use:

  • Read the lines aloud. By speaking the lines you will hear them and they are more likely to stick.

  • Ask a friend to help you. Friends can correct you on any mistakes you make, give you the cue lines and go back over any weak areas.

  • Practise, practise, practise. This is the only way to make the lines stick. There is no such thing as a “photographic” memory. Everybody has to do this, even Kenneth Branagh.

  • Little and often. Go over them first thing in the morning, a few times during the day and last thing at night.

  • There are several apps which can help with learning lines. Here are some I have reviewed and recommend: With Line Learner you record all the lines including those of other characters and then listen to them leaving silent pauses to speak your own lines. With Rehearsal Pro you can upload a script and watch it scrolling by as you record your lines to listen to.

  • Even if you don’t use an app you can make a recording of the scene with a tape-recorder or smartphone. Listen to it while you are shaving/washing up/driving (but keep your eyes on the road). It’s a good idea to leave gaps in the recording to speak your own lines.

  • Move around while you are saying your lines. This has been scientifically proven to aid memory. The best thing to do is to act and feel the emotions of the character so that you are learning the meaning of the speech as much as the words. Or just for a change you can even do something entirely unrelated like juggling or sweeping the floor.

  • Go for a drive or better still a walk. Walking and saying your lines can be quite relaxing (though beware of strange looks from passers-by).

  • Learn the cue lines that lead in to each of your lines. Being prompt with your lines will give you and your fellow actors more confidence.

  • As you say or read the lines, follow the thought pattern of each speech and the overall progression of the scene. Your lines are a part of the play. They don’t exist on their own.

  • In rehearsals, listen to and think about what the other actors are saying. Don’t just concentrate on what you’ve got to say.

  • Make a recording of the cast reading the script and use this to practise with so that you get used to hearing the other characters’ voices.

  • BONUS TIP: Use a Memory Palace. Assign images to objects in a familiar space to guide you through a scene. This is one of many creative and left-field techniques suggested by Mark Channon in his handy book Learning Your Lines.

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