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How to Learn Lines: 30 Tricks of the Trade

1.) Say lines aloud, and to yourself. Each places them in different parts of the brain.

2.) Write them out; it puts them in still another part of the brain.

3.) Analyze your character's wants, needs, actions, and motives. It helps to place them in context in your brain. It also helps your acting.

4.) Learn them with the blocking, because movement can cue you to your lines. It plants them in still another part of the brain.

5.) Record the script, including cues, and rehearse with the tape recorder.

6.) Get someone to cue you. Insist. Beg. Ask your union to negotiate to make it part of the next contract.

7.) Cover the lines while you recall or recite them. Don't cheat.

8.) Have your character make mnemonic peg words to call up difficult passages.

9.) Memorize alphabetic letters to recall the order of a string of words. For example: "He is handsome, clever, and manipulative." (H-C-M)

10.) Over-learn your lines to the point that they are "automatic." Know them the way you know how to ride a bike. Then you can rely on them. Show up prepared and the fear factor decreases.

11.) Study improvisation. It helps you learn to come up with lines in character and gives you confidence.

12.) Trust in yourself to remember, even when you think you may not.

13.) Concentrate on your objectives. Keep your inner monologue going and don't allow errant thoughts while performing.

14.) Drill lines in an intense, truthful way. It deepens the memory.

15.) Devote your daily life to learning the lines, but take short breaks or naps.

16.) Get the stage manager to underline the lines you mess up in run-throughs, and study them later.

17.) If you are in a show and have day[s] off, insist on a line-through before going on again. Memorized lines need refreshment.

18.) Exercise and/or meditate before performances to relax yourself.

19.) Learn to control your fear, anxiety, and tension; recognize when you are tense.

20.) Get enough sleep.

21.) Don't drink liquor or take certain medications before a performance.

22.) Stay healthy; keep cholesterol low--it clogs the veins to your brain...and heart.

23.) Stop smoking for the same reason as 22.

24.) Do aerobic exercises regularly.

25.) Eat blueberries and other antioxidants. Kill off those free radicals.

26.) Cut down on caffeine. A recent study found that it slows blood to the brain, affecting memory. It dehydrates you.

27.) Drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day. We are a liquid system. Water is our lubrication. Most of us are dehydrated at some time during the day. Many of us are always short of water.

28.) Do brain-challenging exercises, like crossword puzzles. Even when unemployed, keep memorizing!

29.) Start learning your lines as soon as you get the script. Don't wait for the first rehearsal. You will be able to act just as well, if not better.

30.) Be confident and positive. You can learn these lines.

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