Best Acting Technique for Learning Lines

by Glen Bravestone
(Six Nations Reserve, Canada)

QUESTION:

I am a line fiend - therefore I love memorizing lines and doing them over differently in my head. However, I sometimes become reliant on the other actor's line cues when delivering my lines, some actors may not be so pinpoint with the script, and the end result is a messy scene. I'm now studying certain techniques and I was pretty deadset on my memorizing technique. Now I've been reading that Line memorization doesn't seem THAT important - Also - I don't have a very hard time 'getting in the moment' as my line delivery is pretty flexible.

So which would be the best technique to help me break out of this mindset of strict memorization? Adler? Meisner? Strasberg?

Thanks in advance!

Glen

ANSWER:

Hi Glen,

If I understand you correctly, you're wondering how to learn to improvise your text more so you can react when your scene partner messes up the lines? Meisner is the acting technique of choice for moment to moment acting but you could study any acting method you want and then take an improvisation class on the side if you really feel your memorization technique is getting in the way of your acting.

Most acting techniques teach actors to find their characters' objectives and having a clear objective is really what will help you stay in the moment with the lines.

Another thing you may want to play around with is Stella Adler's paraphrasing exercises (you can find a short description of one on our Stella Adler acting technique page). Instead of using your usual approach to learning lines next time, work on paraphrasing them until you really feel you understand them and want to communicate them. This will help with memorization and while at the same time giving you flexibility to adapt your response should you need to.

Sometimes actors get so caught up in feeling the lines that we forget to really understand them first. I knew an acting coach who only taught his students that way. Their only objective was to fully pass on the meaning of what they were saying to the other actor. The idea is that the audience then starts to think alongside the actor and becomes fully invested in what happens. If that's an approach you think will help, you may want to look into a good script analysis class instead of the improv class.

Hope this answers your question!

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