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Acting : You've already memorized your lines. by Jonathan Daniel Brown

Jonathan Daniel Brown

You've already memorized your lines.

So many new actors get intimidated by the process of memorizing, but the truth is that it is actually one of the easiest parts of the job, Rote memorization is the key...

The crazy thing about rote memorization techniques is how effective they are in such a short period of time. In one hour, one of my students memorized one of the longest monologues from A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. In 30 minutes, another memorized a 6 page scene from THE DEPARTED. It happens fast.

Spend some time repeating your cues and lines in a monotone. You don't want to lock in performance choices while memorizing, so I can't stress the monotone enough. Repeat the line five times, put the sides down, and repeat again. Then move onto the next. Once that's memorized, go back to the top of the scene. Just keep working at it, one line at a time. Although the process is tedious and repetitive, you'll be astonished how fast your lines become second nature. And if you're struggling a bit, keep chipping away! You'll likely wake up the next morning completely off-book and, best of all, you won't even have to work that hard to do it!

Once you are completely memorized, the fun begins: When you don't have to think about checking your sides or cues, you get to really play and start focusing on the performance.

Debbie Croysdale

@Johnathan You spot on about starting in “Monotone”. I tell actors to do first table read in their own voice (Neutral) and a few get angry as though Im telling them to subdue the intellect of whatever character they reading.

Jonathan Daniel Brown

Debbie Croysdale That's so funny! Why get upset? The fun part about performance is not even having to think about the words, and focusing on the emotional output. That doesn't mean the character has no intellect, and in fact, it's much easier to think about character choices when you don't have to keep feeding yourself lines.

Deneuve Brutus

Very true, one line at time and choosing repeat! Thanks for the advice.

Sean Frost


Jackie Penn

Though my process is a little different, I see your method being very effective.

Abby Evans Pierce

It also prepares you for surprise speed through rehearsals - my favorite!

Maxwell Highsmith

So true! Acting begins where line memorization ends. Ask any Theatre/Stage Director.

Arbender Robinson

I see the value here. I take a slightly different approach but I can see how this too can be effective.

Marleen Irani

This is really true! Since memorizing the text monotonously, I could shift my full focus to character building! I once had this during a script reading where I started to read the lines in a neutral voice but the other actress followed by reading the lines in a loud voice in character. The director said nothing, so this situation was really weird for me. I wish the director would say something because the difference was very obvious, so @Debbie props to you for saying something about it! I don't think there was need for the actors to get upset, but to welcome all feedback.

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