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Mrgelastic's avatar

How can i memorize lines quickly?

Asked by Mrgelastic (508points) August 21st, 2009

To my fellow theater folk,

I’m a freshmen for theater at an art school in miami, and my acting 1 teacher told us he might ask us to memorize stuff in one day.

i’m thinking it is impossible, has anyone had to do this and succeeded?

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13 Answers

photographcrash's avatar

This might be obvious, but you just have to recite it over and over and over again. Outloud. Start with the first line, recite it until you have memorized it. Then add another line, repeat until you have memorized the whole thing.
Try to memorize the lines in the context of the story.. that way, you aren’t so much memorizing random words but learning a story.

jrpowell's avatar

I can’t say that I have ever had to do this.

But what about reading them into a tape recorder so you can play them back later. Like if you have to drive somewhere you could listen to them. And before you go to bed. Sleep with them looping in the background.

IBERnineD's avatar

I’m an art history student and the way I remember all the information, is to either:
Sing it
act as if I am reading/teaching them to someone
using the info in everyday life situations
find a weird connection (i.e. Heraclitus was a philosopher who said “You can’t step in the same river twice” I remembered this by, remembering that the first line in the song Just Around the River Bend from Pocahontas is “What I like most about rivers is, you can’t step in the same river twice…” Pocahontas is a Disney movie, so is Hercules which sounds like Heraclitus)

I’m sure these tips could help you remember lines!

serenityNOW's avatar


Now I have your lines memorized!

Judi's avatar

Repetition. You also need to memorize the ques. it it’s amazing what an actor can do under pressure!!

kyanblue's avatar

Read & recite the lines while doing other tasks. I memorize poems by making exaggerated hand gestures for certain lines and acting it out (if there’s a line that says ‘run’, I’ll dash to the other side of the room, for example). I walk up and down stairs, and recite a line for every step. For poetry, I would wave my hands conductor-style to the cadence of the lines. You might be able to do the same thing.

Also, try rewriting the lines on a piece of paper. If you’re the type of person who can take notes and remember what you wrote very well, rewriting the lines may help embed it into your memory.

If you just do straight memorization (sitting down and repeating the lines for hours on end) you may find that if you’re not sitting down in a corner of your room but standing up in class, you can’t remember the lines anymore. Do a variety of things while reading your lines so they stick with you, and the memory of the words isn’t tied to one specific place or action.

Darwin's avatar

As @johnpowell says, use a tape recorder. That is a trick I learned when I was cast as Mammy in “Wiley and the Hairy Man.” The cast sat down and read all of the lines into a recorder and then everyone got a copy of the tape. We could then listen to them in the car, on the treadmill, or wherever. Writing the lines can help also, and I have been told that using pink highlighter on the lines makes them go into memory better (no idea if it is true, but it sure helps you pick out your own lines in a script).

If you are learning the lines of one character in a script you can also make a recording of everyone else’s lines, leaving a gap for you to stop the tape and recite your lines in between. When acting in a play you can often use the lines of the other characters as a cue for your lines.

Personally, I find the re-writing to help some but I find it best for learning stuff for a test, where my response will also be written rather than spoken.

NowWhat's avatar

Here’s how I memorize long lines of things:

Imagine an image to each line. And recite it out loud, thinking of that image until you catch on. People think in images, which is the easiest way to learn. Here are the steps:

First, read the first phrase and think of the picture, then go to the next and so on.
Second, think of the images from start to finish until you have them in the right order.
Third, read everything over again and continue this until you get it.

MagsRags's avatar

A variety of good ideas here, but it will be easier to choose the most effective method for you if you know what your learning style is. There’s a great parenting book out there called “How Your Child Is Smart” that was my first exposure to the idea that some folks are visual learners, some auditory, some kinetic. I did a quick google and this website talks about the different styles and how to figure out yours
I’m mostly a visual learner – for me, I highlight my lines on the pages, and then use an index card to expose the feedline to me, mouth my line and uncover it and the next lines, on down the page. My husband’s kinetic, so he needs to physically go through the blocking as he works on his lines.

irocktheworld's avatar

Just practice,practice,practice every day! Do it in the morning,afternoon,evening and when you go to sleep. It will help you memorize things.I’ve been acting and it always worked for me.Acting is great and remember,practice makes perfect! Good Luck! :)

Strauss's avatar

I haven’t done any acting in about 30 years. My largest role was that of “Tevye” in Fiddler on the Roof.

I used several techniques to memorize lines. These might work for you, or not.

The first technique, which has been stated here over and over is practice practice practice. When working on a dialogue, get someone to “run lines” with you, or record the other characters lines and practice (again practice).

If it’s a longer passage, or a monologue, or something like that, I used to (mentally) outline the passage, point by point. First, get the flow of the subject matter, then work on getting the precise wording.

Mrgelastic's avatar

Thank you all for the answers, when my professor assigns the work i’ll let you know how it goes

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