Memorizing for the stage


You and your partner must obtain exact duplicate copies.


Highlight your lines


You and your partner must agree on the context of the scene. Basic relationship of characters, what’s happening in the scene intention/goal.

You and your partner must read the scene twice through, discuss any new ideas that come up and then start to memorize.


You must learn your lines exactly for six reasons:


1.  It’s the only way your partner can be sure about coming in on cue.


2. Learning lines exactly gives you a confidence in your role that you can

never have if you’re fishing for an exact way to say something.


3. Paraphrasing lines weakens your role, you will tend to reduce your role to a

common place character, rather than rise to the level created by the author.


4. By paraphrasing, you will probably defeat the author’s sense of timing and

diminish the power of the play’s build, climaxes, and rhythmic effects.


5. You will look bad in the eyes of those who know the play.


6.  Finally, you are insulting the author and the theater itself by your laziness.



Many actors prefer to learn their lines in rehearsal going through their parts “on book” (script in hand until the lines are embedded in memory. This common practice invites certain problems.

1. While going through a part on book, you are not acting; you are reacting to the book, not the situation, and your main contact is not with the actors but with the script.

2. You may pick up patterns and reading in this “Running through” that have nothing to do with the interaction between you and your partner, but rather with your idea of what is theatrical about your part.



Memorize lines with the following process.


1.  Begin by underlining or highlight your lines.


2. Start reading text, read aloud for your own part, to yourself for the other Actor’s part. Start with a small section at a time.


3. Cover up your line and read the line above it, then say your line. Continue until memorized.


4. At this point, memorization is still shallow; it needs to be set. Lines tend to disappear during intense scenes. Therefore, it’s necessary to set in a variety of ways. JR. While jogging, cleaning bathroom, showering, etc.



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