What’s the Best Way to Help My Child Actor Learn Lines Quickly?

Photo Source: Illustration: Jordan Sondler; Taurel: Courtesy Douglas Taurel

Q: My 10-year-old daughter just landed a role in a short film that begins filming in three weeks. What’s the best way to help her memorize her lines before then? —@dramamama, Backstage Community Forum

Congratulations on your daughter landing a role in a short film! Now it’s time to help her learn those lines so she’s ready for the shoot, is confident on set, and delivers her best work. So, what can you do as a parent to support her when it comes to getting ready?

As a former child actor and acting coach for kids and teens, I can tell you what worked for me and what works really well for my students as far as learning lines is concerned, especially in a short period of time.

Scientifically speaking, people remember 90 percent of what they hear but only 10 percent of what they read. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that actors rehearse out loud as often as possible rather than just reading lines over and over again in their heads.

However, before your child starts to memorize lines, she must analyze the piece and dissect every aspect of the film, including the overall arc of the story. Actors both young and old must ask the following questions before diving into memorization:

•What is my character’s objective?

•What does my character want?

•What are the conflicts my character encounters?

If the material contains mature concepts unfamiliar to your child, then mom, dad, a trusted friend, or acting coach can assist them with their understanding of the piece. Once your daughter clearly knows what her conflicts or objectives are within a scene, she’ll be able to figure out what her character’s natural reaction would be in that moment. This helps with memorization because lines of text will be transformed from just a collection of words to remember into meaningful, natural dialogue.

If an actor doesn’t know what their character is saying, the meaning of a word, or what the film is about, effective memorization will be difficult. The bottom line is that if your daughter really understands the piece, she’ll have a much easier time memorizing those lines.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,

and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Jessica R. Grosman
Jessica R. Grosman is the founder and artistic director of A Class Act NY, Manhattan’s award-winning acting studio for kids and teens. She has successfully coached students who have booked roles in feature films, Broadway productions, and on primetime TV series.