Tips for Memorizing a Script on a Time Crunch

Not all rehearsal processes are created equal… I  have been in shows that have a three and a half month rehearsal process and I have been in shows with a two and a half week rehearsal process. Needless to say, those two time frames offer very different options for learning your lines. As I procrastinate learning my lines for my current show a little further, I’ll share with you the tip and tricks I’ve used for past shows, and the ones I should probably use today…

  1. Read through the whole script when you get it… don’t just skim for the parts with your lines– This is important because it provides the entire context of the show. Some of your lines won’t make sense to you without knowing things that happen in scenes you aren’t in. Something that happens in a scene you aren’t a part of could have a big impact on your character later so it’s important that you understand the full context. Not only will your lines make more sense to you, but it will give you connections, which make them harder to forget.
  2. Always say the lines in your character voice– It will make a difference when you get off book if you’re suddenly changing how your saying them. I guarantee it will be harder to remember them if you have to focus on how your saying them, rather than having them memorized in the character voice.
  3. If lengthy monologues are kicking your butt– Read it through, out loud, read off the first sentence, say it without looking, then add a sentence or phrase and read through it again, repeating until you’ve said the whole thing, write it out while looking at it, write as much of it as you can without looking, recite as much as you can without looking, and repeat until it’s memorized!
  4. Write out all your lines and cue lines on notecards (yes, all of them.)– Write the cue on one side and your line on the back. Not only is the final product helpful to flip through when studying your lines (and it gives you a way to see your cue line without your line easily visible under it) but the actual act of writing out the lines will be helpful to learning it.
  5. Watch clips and videos (and the movie version if there is one.)– hearing other people say the lines and seeing different variations on how the character is played has always helped me learn my lines and make character decisions.
  6. Carry your script with you EVERYWHERE– If you have a spare moment at anytime, you should be pulling out your script to look over a scene or two. Always be looking for a quick break to look over your script.
  7. Look at it first and last– Make it the first thing you look at in the morning and the last thing you look at before you go to bed at night. This makes it prominent in your mind, as you’re more likely to be thinking about it throughout the day.

Happy line learning!

Break a leg,
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