Ever struggle cramming all your lines into your head and getting them to stick? Or maybe you’re trying your hand at acting for the first time and are in need of some line learning tips? Either way, you’ve come to the right place! Follow our advice below and you’ll soon be well on your way to simplifying this challenging aspect of amateur dramatics.
1. Decide on a learning order.
Look at the different scenes you’re in, both in terms of number of lines and complexity, and decide which order to learn them in. Make sure you set aside more time for the most challenging scenes or those in which you have the most lines. You might wish to learn the most complex scenes first, to get them out the way, or work on the easiest or shortest ones first for a quick sense of achievement, or you may prefer to learn them all in the order they’re in the script. Whichever choice you go for, always remember your “scripts down” deadline and make sure you set aside enough time to learn each scene, so you’re not stressing and under pressure at the last minute!
2. Break it down.
Looking at everything you need to learn in one go can be quite daunting! Break your lines down into small, manageable chunks. Focus on one section at a time and try to memorise it before moving on to the next. For a long line, break it down into sentences and learn one sentence at a time and then build it slowly back up.
3. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Repeat your lines out loud over and over again. This will help you commit them to memory and get comfortable with the flow and rhythm of the dialogue. Perhaps try looking at your script and reading a line, then covering it up and trying to repeat it without looking at it. Afterwards, check your script to see if you got the line right.
4. Practice with a partner.
Find someone to practice with – whether one of your castmates or a friend or family member – and run through the scene together, with them reading the other parts. This will help you get comfortable with the other characters’ lines and start to recognise the cues for your lines.
5. Act it out.
Practice your lines while moving around the room and acting out the scene. This will help you remember your lines in context and associate them with certain movements. It will also help you get comfortable with the physical requirements of the scene.
6. Record your lines.
Use the recording device on your phone or a specific line-learning app to record you saying your lines, as well as those of the other characters. If you want, you can leave a pause after your lines so there’s a gap for you to repeat them back in. By listening back to the recording and repeating your lines at the right points, you will start to learn your cues as well as your lines. Some line learning apps will even allow you to play the recording with a pause before your lines, after your lines, or instead of your lines, enabling you to change how you listen to the recording as your line learning progresses.
7. Try them at speed.
Once you think you know your lines a bit, try running through them out loud at speed, maybe with the accompanying actions. This way you won’t have time to think or worry about them, so you’ll see which lines have really stuck and which you need to keep going over.
Remember that different tactics will work for different people – some will favour covering up their lines in the script and trying to repeat them while others swear by recording their lines and listening back to them. Why not give all the different techniques a try and see which works best for you?