It’s one of the most common (and cliché) questions an actor gets: “How did you learn all those lines?” Of course, there is more to the intricate craft of acting than committing lines to memory, but there’s also no denying that memorization can be one of the most labor-intensive parts of being an actor. Many tricks and hints are passed down from actor to actor—create a mnemonic device, focus on the story of what the character is communicating, commit the lines to muscle memory, use a voice recorder—but you might not need to deploy homespun mental tricks or commission your roommate to run lines.
If you want to harness the power of technology to memorize your lines, check out these line memorization apps. Because every actor’s learning style is unique, each app has a different approach to adapting the dialogue and giving your brain a workout.
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Efficiency: Learning lines can be an arduous task even for the most seasoned actor. Line learner apps take some of the load off your shoulders by using tried-and-true methods to encourage efficient memorization.
Convenience: Long gone are the days when actors had to lug around full scripts to memorize during moments of downtime. Using a script memorization app means the ability to learn lines anytime, anywhere.
Contextualization: Many apps for memorizing lines include the option to play other characters’ lines aloud, allowing for a better understanding of scene dynamics and how your character and their story fits.
Fun: Finally, these apps gamify the line-learning process, which can turn the drudgery of learning lines into something—dare we say—fun. You may even find yourself wanting to pull up your favorite script memorization app when you’re between roles.
These seven apps—in their variety of costs and styles—may be the tools you need to get your lines down.
This app records you speaking lines into your device then acts as a reading partner. Once you input the script, its algorithm detects when you’re finished speaking and triggers your “partner’s” line. Users can manipulate the pace of the reading, and the app also has a functionality that allows actors to self-tape auditions and readings to send to casting directors and producers. According to one glowing review, ColdRead “has finally replaced the need to have a reading partner.” Even better, ColdRead has a teleprompter function so you can have the text scroll as you’re recording your audition. The app is free if used for under eight lines; $10.99/month for a one-month subscription; $8.99/month for a three-month subscription; and $6.99/month for a year subscription.
This app allows multiple users to record their individual lines and share them so everyone can rehearse “together.” What’s more, users can upload PDF or Word documents of a script and LineLearner will convert the dialogue into a line-item playlist of text chunks. Though it’s pretty bare-bones in terms of fancy features, the consistently good reviews indicate it gets the job done. “Feels like it was designed by actors brainstorming the perfect way to use handheld technology to help them to do one thing, and then get out of the way,” one reviewer wrote. At just $3.99, this app sticks out for its affordability and ease in allowing scene partners to connect seamlessly.
3. Memorize Lines: MemoCoach
If you find games are a better approach to line memorization, this could be a good fit for you. This app takes your lines and slowly blacks words out until you know the whole piece off the top of your head. This incremental approach challenges your brain to figure out the text like a puzzle. All you have to do is import the text from a PDF or HTML file (among some other options); from there, the app will convert your script into a puzzle of hidden words. You can set how many words are hidden—and you can even set a pace for the app to scroll through a scene on its own. The app also offers the option of focusing only on your own lines and ignoring the others. The basic version of the app is free, and it costs $19.99/year or $8.99/month for the premium version.
4. Memorize by Heart
Memorize by Heart offers multiple options for line memorization, such as selectively removing letters and words, allowing the user to view portions of the text at a time, line playback using speech to text, a multiple choice exam with the premium version, and even multi-language memorization options. Simply copy and paste the text into the app and you’re ready to start getting those lines down by heart. The basic app is free, or you can pay $0.99 for one month; $5.49 for six months; $7.99 for 12 months; or $15.99 for a lifetime subscription.
5. Rehearsal Pro
One of the original and best-known memorization apps, Rehearsal Pro is one of the more multifaceted line-learning options out there—and it was made specifically for actors. According to one professional working actor, the app is “exactly what I’d been looking for for a very long time,” thanks to its several options for manipulating a script. For line-learning, the app offers highlighting, blackout, and teleprompter features. Further, Rehearsal Pro lets users alter the pacing of the scene, repeat or playback, and mark internal beats. While it seems some internal bugs have driven down the app’s ranking in the App Store, many actors claim a download is worth the $19.99 investment for all of Rehearsal Pro’s functions.
6. Run Lines With Me
Another memorization app built with actors in mind, Run Lines With Me relies on audio recordings that you can organize into different folders. Once you record your scene, you can repeat the recording and add in pauses or gaps before and after your lines are played. While this program works best for subscribers—to the tune of three months for $1.99, six months for $3.99, and a year for $4.99— users can have up to 10 recordings at a max of 15 minutes each for free. Users comment that the audio-emphasized functionality allows them to review lines while multitasking: “Great for running lines in your car during traffic on your way to an audition or scene study class.”
7. Scene Study
One bad habit that drives directors nuts is when actors know their lines but not their cues. Scene Study encourages you to record cue lines as well as your own, so you not only memorize what you’re supposed to say but when you’re supposed to say it. This app sets up recordings for each character—you can record your partner’s full lines or just the cue words. Once you think you have your lines memorized, the app will mute your lines and only play your cues. “This app solves my problem of not having someone to run lines with,” writes a satisfied user. At just $2.99 for lifetime use, and with functions such as drag-and-drop and autosave, Scene Study consistently earns solid reviews from users.