How Do You Learn Your Lines? Actors Reveal Their Secrets

Daniel, Sammy & Hector in DramaRamaYou’ve been cast in the lead and you are ecstatic! Friends congratulate you, even your mom posts it on HER Facebook page. And then reality sets in: how are you gonna learn all those lines?

I asked the cast of our latest play, DRAMARAMA, a showcase of student-directed and written shows [introducing our new improv group!] to offer some suggestions on their process.

Use Technology

Kiana records the line before hers [called a cue] on her phone using the Voice Memo app and leaves a pause so she can say her line aloud while rehearsing. No slacker, Kiana is brutal while learning lines. If she makes a mistake, she “punishes” herself by starting right back from the beginning. Through this process, she gets all those lines down cold.

Kaylie also harnesses technology. She records the lines on her phone and listens to it before going to sleep. It’s like song lyrics—if you give it long enough, she assures us that it will stick in your head.

While definitely low tech, a performer from Shakespeare To Go, Santa Cruz’s production of Henry V said she wrote index cards with her cues. It’s like prepping for a test! And her lines were spot on!

Take a Cold Shower

Many thespians mentioned going over their lines in the shower. Kinda like singing in the shower. It might make your parents wonder…so be sure to let them know what’s up…

What Was That? What Was That? The Importance of Repetition

Go over your lines. Every single actor said this, yet each has a wee different take on the process.

  • Iliana looks over her lines, reading them to herself one time and then says them again but covers up her lines, reading only the cues. She keeps this up until she has the lines down.
  • Daniel reads his line over and over, “until I get the feeling of what I am supposed to say.” He reads the cues as well.
  • Adrian likes to learn all his lines at one time. He will review them before going to bed.
  • Robyn looks at the lines and replays them in her head. She said it helps to think about the character as if it were real life. This character visualization is key. She will ask a friend to help run those lines with her.
  • Like other thespians, Shawn reads over his lines. He tries different accents to help him memorize his lines.
  • Hector will often rehearse lines with his scene partners even when they aren’t called to an official rehearsal—there’s no such thing as too many line-thrus!
  • Sammy writes notes about his character next to the lines and reviews both [lines and notes] to help establish the emotional state.
  • Learning your lines in the context of the scene is also something thespians mentioned. By rehearsing the scene multiple times, the words start to stick.

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Categories: Acting

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8 replies

  1. just go over them repeatedly and study somewhere real quiet and you”ll do fine.

  2. study in a quiet room and go over it repeatedly over and over and you”ll do fine

  3. A way I like to remember my lines is to recite them in front of the mirror. That helps me a lot.

  4. These tips are really useful in memorizing lines for any play or theater production.

  5. When I first heard about these tips i was skeptical that they would work and it took me a few days before I actually tried one out. When I finally decided that I wouldn’t lose anything on trying the one where you record yourself I realized that it helped so much! it was almost like learning the lyrics to a song.

  6. These actors tips were really helpful! I tried a few but I came to a conclusion if I read it like 6 times over again I got it memorized! that saved me so much time, but I hate when you get on stage you forget everything :[

  7. I really enjoyed the improv that was done at this play.
    i also want to say thank you to the actors for their tips on how to remember their lines. it really helped during these monologues.

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