7 Tips to speed up memorization
1. Read through the material.
Scene or feature length script, it’s always a good idea to get a feel for the arc of the story as a whole if possible. So break out those reading comprehension skills and buckle up for the big picture. If you can, it will inform your choices later. Especially in cold reads, scan every bit of text on the page for context clues. If you have a larger project (say, a last-minute audiobook), choose wisely. Read the first 20pages, 20pages in the middle, and the last 20 pages, and infer from there.
2. Get the bookends down.
If you’re looking at a scene, memorize the first few lines and the last few lines. If you bookend the audition with a strong starting and ending moment, weakness in the middle is more likely to be forgiven.
Humans are visual creatures. Highlight or somehow mark your script in a way that makes sense to your brain. Favorite colors are a bonus. I try to bring highlighters and a brightly colored pen to every audition—the former to mark lines and the latter to notate stage directions.
4. Know your strengths.
It’s good to know what kind of learner you are. Do you need to spend a lot of eye-to-page time? Will auditory cues help you? Are you learning by doing kind of person? Forget what you think you’re supposed to do and cater your strategy toward your learning style.
5. Break it into chunks.
Eat that elephant one bite at a time. Build your memorization up in chunks, and systematically expand the chunks you review.
6. Record your cues.
Especially if you learn by listening, recording your cues on your phone is a great way to memorize more quickly.
7. Track the train of thought.
This is another way to say “listen.” For real, if you figure out why your character is saying what she’s saying, the lines will stick so much faster. Nine times out of ten, the “why” comes from your scene partner. Listen to what is happening in your scene and take the next logical step.
BONUS: Don’t be afraid. Many talented actors get intimidated when asked to memorize on the fly, but it’s all just part of the job. Know yourself and your strategies, do what you need to do to get into a calm and focused frame of mind, and do your job. At the end of the day, this career is your choice, and you are in the driver’s seat. Take control and do what you do best.
The Michelle Danner acting conservatory´s philosophy is that artist can draw upon all different acting techniques and form an individual toolbox, they own Golden Box. We will help you to develop your own “Golden Box” of techniques and tools that you can use when approaching a role or a scene , whether for film, television, or theatre. Our Los Angeles conservatory acting techniques are based on Meisner, Strasberg, Adler, Hagen, Chekhov and the Stanislavsky technique.
Michelle Danner is an international film director & acting coach. Her student list includes James Franco, Seth MacFarlane, Salma Hayek, Henry Cavill, Zooey Deschanel, Gerard Butler, Chris Rock, Penelope Cruz and many others.