5 Best Ways Actors Memorize Their Dialogues
Actors often struggle to prepare their lines well. Here are the five best ways for actors to prepare their dialogues for an impactful performance so that they can shine when the spotlight falls on them.
April 25, 2023
Delivering lines during the performance can be a tricky business.
Because the desired effect on the audience is not just about the lines.
- The emotions behind the words are as important as the words.
- Body language communicates as much as words.
- Your lines are not yours, they belong to your character.
- Your lines also relate to the other characters’ lines in the story.
As you can see, there are several layers to the delivery of your dialogues in a scene or a play.
Dealing with all these layers can cause you to forget lines.
That’s why you might want to know the various routines, tricks, and tips that professional actors use to memorize script lines quickly and get their dialogues ready.
1. Try Neutral Reading
Reading your lines aloud multiple times can help you learn your lines almost as if they belong to you and from well as your own life.
However, sometimes, this still doesn’t help.
Sometimes, you can get caught up in the emotions of the scene, and forget key lines in the moments that follow.
To solve this, recite the lines in a neutral, flat tone without adding any emotion to them. Neutrally read the scenes so that the relevant facts are memorized in a systematic manner. This will improve your retaining powers when performing.
Notice how the tone differs from a natural tone.
2. Read it Aloud as Much as You Can
It may be simple, but reading your lines aloud from the page helps. Repeat the drill several times to get it into your mind. Then, try saying it aloud without the aid of the page.
Some actors read their lines aloud at different locations during the week. This routine gives the actor a new perspective into the scene, by which they can remember it later.
Many actors do menial activities while reading their lines—like washing dishes, playing with a ball, getting dressed, preparing food, etc. This can help one process the lines without having to focus on them. There have been many scientific studies that have found physical activity is closely associated with memory improvement.
3. Who Said to Whom, When and Where
Actors also need to mind the time, location, and other characters of the scene.
Everything has some context in life and it’s also true about a scene or script. Know the context of the characters and the lines spoken by them. For example, if your scene is of a senior editor teaching a junior writer in a news channel office, you might need to know the industry jargon before saying your lines.
You will also have to understand your co-actor’s lines, scene’s location, and the time of day it is happening in. All this information will provide the necessary logic and context while you say your lines.
4. Memorize Pauses and Punctuations
Each scene consists of more than words. It also contains pauses within the conversation. Pauses—your commas and full stops in script form—are an essential part of the sentence structure and language of a scene. Noticing and remembering pauses and punctuation will help you break complicated dialogues into smaller chunks. This will help you remember lines. Pauses and punctuations will also add dramatic value to the lines and scene.
5. Cues and Notes
In a scene, your lines will usually occur in response to another actor’s line or any other action. Remember the dialogues or actions which come before each line. Remembering cues will trigger your memory to remember your lines at the right moment.
The act of writing down the lines helps in retaining the words. Make several notes for each part of a scene to simplify the process. As you familiarize yourself with the words, you get better at remembering them at the right times.
If you follow any of these 5 guidelines in your preparation process, you will enjoy favourable results. There is no shortcut to memorization. One needs to put in the required time and energy.
Ekalavya’s online acting courses include some of these guidelines in greater detail. You can check relevant courses like ‘Mastering Monologues’ for how to memorize script lines quickly & ‘Art of Audition’ on the website and enroll at an affordable price.
Ekalavya: Act, Create, Communicate
India’s best online acting and theatre training platform, an initiative of Drama School Mumbai (DSM). DSM is one of the best acting and theatre schools in India. At Ekalavya, all the courses are designed and delivered by highly trained DSM faculty and industry professionals. Currently available courses are Breaking Open Characters, Mastering Monologues, Expressive Voice and Speech, Art of Auditioning and Expressive Body.