How Do Actors Memorize Their Lines?
How many times, while watching TV or a movie, have you wondered how actors remember all those lines of dialogue? I am sure a lot of actors get that question and I am sure each thespian has their own little ways.
One actor responded with a technique they found most useful. Instead of memorizing the dialogue word by word, try memorizing the underlying thoughts that make the words you want to remember assured. It also helps, they went on, to fill your head with pictures of the things the dialogue is referring to. It can be easier to remember words when we can match them to space or movement..a kinetic approach. If you’re reaching out to caress the face of the leading man you are less apt to blurt out, “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.” That’s not to say it can’t happen, but it usually only happens in some sort of absurdist play. But, generally, it really helps to associate the gestures to the words.
Another useful trick when you need to memorize a list of words is to learn the first letters of those words so that when you recall them it will provoke the memory of the words themselves. For instance, if the line you need to remember is, “Oh, those pretty, vain, unobtainable vixens,” you would memorize P-V-U-V. Pretty. Vain. Unobtainable. Vixens.
Easy, right? Of course, you might then come out with something like “peppy, vicious, uxorious vegetation” — but that only means you haven’t been listening and have neglected to identify the underlying thought.
Finally, recall a series of numbers can envision where those numbers fall on the musical scale and then remember the tune they create. Try singing, “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9″ — and zero can be any sound that appeals at the time. Using the example of a telephone number, say 323-7365, you can sing “323-7365…ta-da-ta da-ta-de-dum.” You can then nicely morph that into something more catchy, “3237-365 … ta-da-ta-da ta-de-dum” This technique has the added advantage of making you seem to onlookers like a happy person. A little odd, but happy.
No matter what memorization technique you use, the most important thing is to know the underlying thought — so that the outer is a reliable reflection of the inner. And isn’t it funny how a simple little memory technique can turn out to be a simple little metaphor for life?
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