Picture the scene, you’ve landed a part in the play at your local theatre and you’re super excited. You aced the audition, met the cast and now you have received your script. You flip through the pages and it suddenly dawns on you…’How on earth am I going to learn all of these lines?!’ There are two options here…
Option 1 – Freak out, procrastinate as much as possible and attempt to learn all your lines the night before the first rehearsal. We don’t recommend this option for obvious reasons!
Option 2 – Take a breath. Yes it’s a little daunting at first but you can totally do this using some of our proven methods…
Start small – Some characters have more lines than others. If your character has lots of dialogue and appears in many scenes, take the first scene and learn the first page. Then the next day, take the second page and so on until the first scene is completed. This might take a week or so but by the end of the week, you should have retained the majority of the scene and gained the confidence to continue.
The number 6 method – Did you know that repeating something six times is one of the most effective ways to learn? We’re not exactly sure why six is the desired number but it seems to do the trick! Take each line in chronological order and repeat the line six times before moving onto the next one. Although this might feel a little time-consuming, the method really does work!
Reading partners – Sometimes lines sink in much more easily when you are ‘acting’ out the scene. Why not ask someone if they can grab coffee and read lines with you? This doesn’t have to be an actor. Confident readers and patient friends make great reading partners. If it’s possible, try to arrange rehearsals with your cast members outside of official rehearsing hours. The more you speak the lines aloud the quicker it will be to learn them.
The cover-up method – It might be that you live alone or don’t have the time to meet up with someone else. In this case, read your first line aloud and then cover it with your finger. Repeat the line again by memory. If you don’t repeat it correctly the first time, keep repeating this method before moving on. Not only will this help you to learn your own lines, but it will help you learn your cue lines (the lines spoken prior to yours by the other actor/s in the scene).
Sleep – There’s nothing a good night’s sleep can’t fix right? Reading over lines just before bed helps with memory recall, especially if you go over them again first thing in the morning.
Technology – Did you know there are multiple apps dedicated to line learning? Applications include LineLearner, Cold Read and MemoryPie. All three provide interactive and fun ways to learn lines.
Lastly, have fun with it. You will get the lines locked in eventually and like most things, line learning will become much easier with practice.