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Acting School Monthly Newsletter -- How to Make Sure You Know Your Lines
October 24, 2012

How to Make Sure You Know Your Lines

Here's the news from Acting School Stop, your one stop on the road to an acting career.

In this issue... An important article about learning lines for actors who have problems with memorization as well as all those who feel learning lines gets in the way of their creativity!

1) Article of the Month

The Creative Way for Actors to Quickly Memorize Monologues and Dialogues
Written by Jared Kelner

If you’re like most actors, at one point in your career you've struggled with memorizing your lines. Perhaps you couldn't remember the next part of your monologue, or maybe the next line of dialogue just wasn’t coming to you. The sad fact is that most actors fail to use their natural imaginative abilities that can help them memorize their lines quickly and instead rely on repetitive, rote memorization techniques to force the text into their brains.

You may have tried some of the following monotonous memory methods: highlighting your lines and covering them with another piece of paper; recording the other person's lines into a tape recorder and talking during the paused recording; writing the cue line and your line on opposite sides of a note card and flipping them over; writing your lines on sticky notes and pasting them around the set; repeating your lines again and again while exercising; or even playing a recording of your lines over and over while you sleep, hoping that your subconscious mind will magically absorb the dialogue. These methods all rely on rote memorization through stale repetition. When actors use these methods, they’re working against their nature as imaginative and creative souls. Actors inherently and instinctively have vivid imaginations. They’re creative forces who see the gray world in bright colors. By leveraging their artistic nature and unique vision, actors can accelerate the memorization process.

So put down the highlighter. Turn off the tape recorder. Throw away the note cards. Instead, turn on your imagination and tap into the unbounded world of your creative mind; your lines will be quickly learned, easily memorized, and instantly recalled. Oh, and by the way, the creative approach to memorizing lines is fun.

In ancient Rome and Greece, long before the modern printing press was invented, master story tellers used to compete annually at competitions to retell stories and historical events word for word. The method they used to recall their script was based on the foundation memory principle called loci. Today, we’d refer to the method as association. At its core, a trained memory relies on the following principle: To remember something new, you must associate the new information in some memorable way, to something that you already know. In modern memory training, this is now called linking, chaining or associating.

You see, our mind thinks in pictures, not in words, and that is why we struggle to recall the next line in the text. It’s because we are searching for a word, not an image. How often do you painstakingly try to remember the next part of your monologue and then when you call “LINE!!!!!” to the stage manager, the moment they say the first few words, you scream back, “Oh yeah. I got it.” And you continue with the next few lines until you lose it again. What is happening is that you are not connecting to the next image or the next thought or the next emotion. But once you grab hold of that next image, you can rattle off the lines quite easily. One of the first creative principles to line memorization taught in the book LINE? aligns perfectly with the foundation imagination exploration exercises taught in every acting technique. First you read the line you are trying to memorize and then you must turn that line somehow into an image that represents what that line means to you.

For example, if the first line of your monologue is “The moon was full and rain poured down like cats and dogs,” perhaps you would turn that line into an image of a full moon. But not a full moon doing nothing in the sky. You must see, in crystal clear pictures, with feeling and action and emotion, the full moon alive. Remember that in our acting training, regardless of which method you study, we learn that acting is doing. So the image of the line we are trying to memorize must always be in action. Picture the full moon weeping, sobbing, breathing deeply and moaning. Tears are pouring out of the moon’s eyes like waterfalls. Better yet, see the tears turn into sopping wet cats and dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds and really see the drenched cats and dogs falling from the sky meowing and barking as they plummet to the ground. Why is the moon crying? What are the wet cats and dogs doing as they fall or when they hit the ground?

The more vivid your images become, the stronger your connection to the images will be. You would repeat this process for every line in the piece. You’d link the story you create so that the wet dogs and cats would somehow be creatively interacting with the images of the next line. And so on and so on. When you think back to retell yourself the story, you’d first see the image of the full moon and ask yourself, “What was he doing?” Once you see the action of the image of the line, you’ll quickly get back to the line “The moon was full and rain poured down like cats and dogs.”

The example above offers a tiny glimpse into one of the many memory techniques taught in my new book Line? The Creative Way for Actors to Quickly Memorize Monologues and Dialogues. By marrying the methods presented in the book with the actor's creative instincts and acting training, line memorization organically becomes part of the actor’s process for character and subtext development. The result is faster line memorization with a deeper connection to the material. To gain a full understanding of many more creative memory principles for line memorization that will change the way you approach every script going forward, pick up a copy today.

Jared Kelner, a Meisner trained actor who has appeared professionally on television and on stage, owned and operated an acting school in San Jose, CA and now teaches the adult acting class at the Playhouse Acting Academy in East Brunswick, NJ. In addition to acting, Jared Kelner has had a 15 year successful career in corporate sales where dynamic public speaking is a critical part of his success. After years of studying and practicing a wide range of memory improvement techniques, Jared started a consulting company in 2006 called The Infinite Mind Training group that offers memory improvement training seminars to sales and management teams. A few companies that Jared has delivered his memory improvement training seminars to are Cisco Systems, SES, Factiva/Dow Jones, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Intermodal Management Systems, Educational Testing Service and The National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses. Jared has combined his expertise as a memory improvement trainer with his passion for acting and teaching to create his new book Line? The Creative Way for Actors to Quickly Memorize Monologues and Dialogues.

2) What's new on

Virginia Acting Schools
If you live in Virginia and want to become an actor, check out these listings of acting colleges and acting classes in your state.

4) A word of Inspiration

"Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going." - Tennessee Williams

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Good luck with your acting career!

Alex Swenson

Acting School

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