You were just handed a rather lengthy script, and you have no idea how you’re going to go about memorizing all of this dialogue. The thought it overwhelming. Luckily, you were given some time to get the script down. Now, you just need to figure out where to start.
There are many techniques used to memorize dialogue, but there is no tried-and-true formula for doing so. You’ll need to come up with a method that works best for you. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to ensure your mind is operating at top-speed, focusing and think clearly.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you are getting enough rest. Research has found that losing half a night’s sleep for just one night – roughly three to four hours – can limit your ability to focus and lead to memory loss. So, make sure you’re getting enough z’s. Then, try to review the script at a time of day in which you feel well-rested and energetic. Are you a morning person? A night owl? Do you rock the mid-day? Find a time that works best for you.
Study your lines in a place where you can relax and focus. You’ll want to make sure you have a quiet space and are in an atmosphere free of clutter and other distractions. Then, put your electronic devices aside and determine how long up front you plan to devote your time solely to line memorization. This will help you to stay focused on the task at hand.
Do a read-through first, then return to it, adding in your character expressions. This way, you will have the lines down and can shift your focus to making the character pop from the page. The character’s mannerisms are important, of course, but you need to know what the he or she is going to say in order to know what movements should accompany the dialogue. Read everything and read it slow. Worry about the rest later.
Some actors find it helps to write down their lines on a separate blank sheet of paper as they are committing them to memory, according the experts at Backstage. Studies have shown completing an activity while reading engages one’s memory and this helps the lines “stick,” so to speak. Others reduce each piece to easy-to-remember acronyms such as CITE for “Come into the entryway, please.” These acronyms help piece together the sentence structure and our minds will ultimately fill in the blanks.
As with anything, practice makes perfect. Make sure you ask for any materials you’ll need to prepare which are not automatically provided up front and give yourself plenty of time to rehearse prior to the big day.