We put a huge emphasis on the importance of actors’ delivering self-tapes or arriving at our auditions off book. We understand that this can be a daunting prospect – there’s never enough time, nerves get in the way, and it can be just plain difficult (not to say boring).
We are firm believers that your memory is a muscle and like any muscle the more you work it the stronger it gets. Since first writing this page we’ve now developed online courses that help you give your memory a good workout, but you can also do this on your own by finding audition scenes that you can learn each day. We’ve started you off with links to some screenplays – these can be found just here to the right – click on Audition Material →
Try to pick a range of characters – from day players with just one or two scenes, to more complex roles with story arcs. For the purposes of learning lines you can ignore the character descriptions – don’t be constrained by the age or sex of a character – just learn the lines and come up with a great performance.
It will take discipline and commitment, but the results will be worthwhile.
Tips for learning lines:
1) Say them out loud – and repeat and repeat and repeat.
2) Incorporate the stage directions. Memory is aided by physical movement so remember to clearly read the stage directions and then join the words with the appropriate movements and gestures. You’d be surprised how many people forget to “draw a gun” or “search in a bag” or hand something over. All of these actions can trigger your next sequence of dialogue.
3) Record them and listen to them during the day. Use your phone, an MP3 player, a dictaphone or even a good old cassette recorder and listen to the lines during everyday activities. To begin with, we would advise that you record ALL the dialogue – your own characters and everyone else’s. But as your memory strengthens you can record all the other characters’ lines, leaving gaps where you can insert your own dialogue.
4) Post It – write each sentence or a fragment of your dialogue on a Post It note and place them strategically around your house in the order of a well-used route – i.e. from living room to kitchen, or bedroom to front door. Glance at each note as you pass on each journey and this will help you remember the right sequence. As you get better you can simply write keywords on the notes.
5) Apps – we haven’t tried any of these out but there appear to be some useful apps out there that can help you learn your lines. In particular we like the look of these for iPhones and iPads – Line Learner (for it’s simplicity) and Scene Study. Slightly more complex is Rehearsal but it’s packed full of interesting features, and it looks like the pricing policy has changed to a one-off flat payment rather than a subscription and we’re a fan of that. Let us know if you find these useful, and any equivalents for Android / Blackberry phones.
And if you have other tips for learning lines please let us know using the comments section below.