Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Six Steps for Line Learning

My spare time this week is going to be all about memorization.  I'm working on two scripts at once for performances that are a week apart.  I love performing but, let's face it, line learning kind of sucks.  Some people breeze right through it while others (me) really struggle with it. 

The good thing is that memorization is a muscle that gets stronger the more you use it. Through lots of trial and error, I've developed my own six-step line learning system to exercise my memory muscle.

Step One:  Read for Comprehension

Read through the entire script to truly digest what is going on.  Reading for comprehension gives you clues about your character and how he or she reacts to what's going on in the story.  Knowing the story and what happens next is crucial to learning your lines.

Step Two:  Highlight

Read through the script again, this time just highlighting your character's lines.

Step Three:  Underline Cues

Read each character's line that precedes your line.  Underline some cue in that line that prompts you to say your next line.  If there's nothing specific there, then try word association.  For example, if my next line starts with a "T", I will underline a word in the line ahead of mine that also starts with a "T". 

Step Four:  Work on Three Pages

I work on no more than three pages at a time.  This is my magic number.  Maybe your number is less or more but this seems to be really effective for me.  I fold a piece of paper in half, cover the line right before mine and work down the page, memorizing all of my lines before moving on.  When I get to the bottom of page three, I go back and start over again until I know them. 

Step Five:  Digest it

After memorizing three or so pages, put down the script for at least a half hour before picking it up again to work on more.  This allows the lines to get into your longer term memory and your brain to digest everything that you just crammed into it. 

Step Six:  Repeat

Repeat steps four and five until you've worked your way through the script.  After I have my three pages down, I move onto the next three and so on, each time going back to the first page and working through up to the point where I currently am in the script.  Working the lines over and over really commits them to memory.  I usually allow myself a week to two weeks for bigger scripts.  I divide my number of pages with lines by the number of days I have left until I need to be off book.  That tells me how many pages of script I need to have memorized each day. 

That's it.  It works for me every time, no matter what size the script is. 

OK, time for me to stop playing on my blog and get busy learning lines!


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