Help me improve my script learning technique.
January 8, 2015 7:41 AM   Subscribe

I have an audition coming up in 3 weeks for a play I really want to be in. I have a reasonable track record with auditions but my capacity to memorise script is not brilliant which is unfortunate clearly (!) and a worry. Specifically I notice I tend to get stuck on certain lines - why? Anxiety?

I have tried reading over and over and over, highlighting my part and even recording the other part/cues and saying out my part.

Any tips would be gratefully received as I haven't seen loads online. TY
posted by tanktop to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total)
You've got three weeks. You can do this. Write out your lines. Record your part too and listen over and over again then recite your lines along with the tape (especially right before you go to sleep). Run lines with someone: they have eyes on the script and can prompt you when you're stuck.
posted by JackBurden at 8:10 AM on January 8, 2015

For me the best method has always been memorizing one line at a time, and adding up, whether it's one line of a monologue or each line of my side of a dialogue. Read line one, speak it aloud without the script. Read lines one and two, speak them aloud without the script. And so on, usually for about one scene at a time. If need be, have the other lines of dialogue written out so you can read them and prompt your responses. If you have another person who can run lines with you, that's always great too. If you have trouble with certain lines... just practice them more.
posted by obfuscation at 8:12 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I find it much harder to memorize lines on my own than it is with a scene partner. It doesn't have to be another actor, just someone to react against so it's not all in your head. The cheating that comes with being alone (sneaking looks at the script, skipping lines) happens much less when you're with a scene partner, too.
posted by xingcat at 8:18 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wrote this article for opera singers, but it applies just as well for actors. Step 6 is particularly key for this sort of thing.
posted by sdis at 9:45 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Well, how are you reading over and over and over? Are you just reading whole blocks of dialogue and expecting to remember them through sheer repetition? Same with the playing back?

So excuse me if I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs here, but you have to cover your lines, memorize the cues from the other actor's dialogue, and then try to recite your line from memory without uncovering it. You also can't expect to memorize entire chunks of dialogue at once, you have to break it down to a sentence at a time.

Then you just keep doing that until you can't get it wrong.
posted by tel3path at 9:51 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you get stuck on certain lines it might be that you're not making any strong association with the other character's line right before yours. Pretty much everything your character says should be prompted by something someone said or did before that moment. So if you find the reason for each of your lines, it'll help you remember what to say and when. (If you have a bunch of lines that are similar, like "Yes," "Uh huh" and so on, don't focus on those differences until you have all your other lines down.)

What I do is look at the scene as a whole and think about how the story within that scene is shaped. And then I look at each line and think about the reasons for them. So even if you do forget a line in there, you know where you're going with the scene and can get back on track.
posted by zerbinetta at 10:58 AM on January 8, 2015

I give a lot of speeches and public presentations. I usually get to have notes, but I would be totally unable to do this sort of thing without listening to a recording of me reciting the speech as I'd want it to be heard (inflections and whatnot included) at least two or three times while rehearsing. It helps me avoid sounding like a robot, even if I end up flubbing/ad-libbing on the spot.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:37 AM on January 8, 2015

It may also help you to block out pieces of the text (which may or may not be consistent with paragraph breaks, and may include other characters' lines in the mix) and write a note reminding yourself of why exactly your character is saying what they are saying, and why they chose that particular turn of phrase to get their point across. That way even if you mess up a little, you can still move on with the scene.
posted by Urban Winter at 11:42 AM on January 8, 2015

If I have a very limited time to learn lines I record the entire piece, including my lines, and start the learning process by saying my lines a split second after I hear them on the recording so it's very much a rote thing. As I start to become more familiar I attach the meaning of what I'm saying in response to the cue from other characters, or, if it's a monologue, from the previous line I have just said. If there's a particular line or word that I'm having trouble remembering, I trick myself into remembering it by 'attaching' it to a word or line next to it using mnemonics. For example, if the word that's eluding me starts with a particular letter or rhymes in some way with a word that is in the line preceding it I will make a mental note that when I hear that word it will remind me of the word that's been eluding me. I'm explaining it badly but it really does work.
posted by h00py at 8:58 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

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