Brain Freeze! That’s what it feels like when I first look at an intimidating stack of sides that I must memorize. And since many actors feel the same way, I’ve asked the cast members of TWO MANY MOMS (including myself!) to lend their advice on how to best memorize with less pain, more gain.
TWO MANY MOMS – A Rock City Productions Pilot – is a hilarious and heartfelt story about an 8-year-old genius who attempts to keep the peace between his progressive, uptight super mom and his live-in, conservative and judgmental grandmother.
Here are some cool tips for memorizing lines…
Advice from Kelly Calabrese
To help alleviate that Brain Freeze! – ice cream style headache – that comes with memorizing lines, I rely on popping those lines into a recording device.
First up: I use Audacity on my computer to record the entire script, including stage directions. (If you don’t have audacity almost every phone post the Flintstones era has a recording App either already installed or just a click away for being yours)
Second: I break up the script into digestible chunks – usually about a page at a time if the lines are snappy as they were in TMM. If I’m programming my brain to remember paragraph length verbiage, I break these down even more. The goal is to have each recording short enough to memorize in parts. (About 30 sec. to 1 min. each max.)
I do this for the entire script, in sequential scene order. (Well at least the pages that contain my part. I’m diligent not glutton for punishment)
Third: I re-record the entire script on one track, if it’s only a couple of pages. Or I break it down to a couple of pages at a time if it’s longer. Except this time I leave out my lines. All the other characters I tape. This way, I can show off the work I’ve done (or realize how far I still need to come) by filling in the blanks when my part comes.
Fourth: I run away! Wouldn’t you if you just completed all this time sucking work! And by run I mean that I transfer the recording on to my iPod and I hit the Hoboken waterfront for 4-6 miles (Which goes by in a flash because my brain is distracted with learning my lines.)
And yes – I speak aloud to myself as I run. What do I care if anyone thinks I’m nuts. I’m too busy to care. I’m strengthening both my mind and my body at the same time. Whoot! Two birds, one step closer to getting that role… Done!
Disclaimer: if you don’t live near a waterfront as nice as Hoboken’s, I’m sorry. That is too bad. It’s got sweet views of NYC all the way from downtown to the George Washington Bridge. BUT any running or walking or dancing around in your living room path will do.
That’s my tip! I hope it works for you
For more information about me – check out – www.KellyCal.com
Advice from Frances McGarry
JUST DO IT.
Memorizing lines does not take genius capacity; it requires a mindset of diligence, duty, and dexterity. For me, all of the strategies Kelly mentioned are all options that I use as well, but I’ve learned that different approaches work for different projects.
For learning lines for a play, I tape a rehearsal run through so that I can hear the other actors’ voices; for a TV script, I will create a plot flow chart connecting words from the script to envision in my head how to move to the next idea. I also have found that doing a Bart Simpson System works: write the line as many times as necessary to learn its rhythm and syntax. What often happens is that I connect words, phrases, vowels, consonants to help mnemonically remember the line.
Bottom line is that there are no short cuts. So, just get down to brass tacks and, well,
JUST. DO. IT.
For more information about Frances McGarry – check out – www.francesmcgarry.com
Advice from Sagine Valla
I’ve always struggled with learning lines and now, over time, I’ve figured out a few things that have improved my memory therefore leaving me free to focus on acting and the director’s notes when I get on set.
The first thing I do is read a scene as many times as I can to be familiar with it. I would say about 4 times. Then I record the scene on my iPhone in an exaggerated wonkey voice. I find that I learn songs much faster and when I listen to this exaggerated version of the script it helps me retain the information faster. I listen to this while reading the script. Then I listen to it without looking at the page. Lastly, I record the other parts and practice to see how much I’ve retained. Anything I haven’t retained I review it until I get it right.
Memorization for TWO MANY MOMS was a challenge. We filmed 4 episodes in a 7 day window. That means 12 scenes of which 10, I was in. There were piles of lines. And so I divided the task by day. Always working at least one day ahead but reviewing the previous day’s lines to keep my lines too of mind.
For more information about Sagine Valla – check out – www.saginevalla.com
Advice from Samantha Turret
For TWO MANY MOMS it wasn’t too hard to memorize. I was in a majority of two episodes. At first I was just in one episode but they expanded my character (THANK GOD) and it was a happy surprise of more lines. But the amount of lines was not terrifying especially in the often single shot style they were shooting in. There was not too much pressure to have 100% accuracy.
No matter how many lines I have or how few, I still write all of them down. My template tends to be 3 columns – One for the cue line, one for my line, and one for an action/tactic for the line. I keep a small notebook with me almost all the time. In this notebook, I keep a variety of anal retentive lists AND my lines. I even write down lines for auditions in a similar style. No matter what, writing it down always helps me to at least become familiar with the text.
Recently I was in a production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK as Anne, yeah I look like a 15 year old so…. Anyway, this character has a substantial amount of lines including big block diary entry-style monologues. I got a composition journal and FILLED it in the same manner I do any other memorizing- cue, line, action/tactic. This time it took a seriously LONG period of time to write it all down. When I write I like to kind of mouth the words or say them aloud of I’m not in public where people will undoubtedly think I’m a raving lunatic. I’ll often write the script over and over but those pages get ripped out so as not to distract from the beautiful final copy of cue,line, action. I do this process during subway rides and while nannying (my money job) and basically any semi-free moment of time.
It’s easy, it’s not too time consuming, and it’s just what I need to memorize!
For more information on Samantha Turret – check out – http://sturret.wix.com/samantha-turret
THANKS to the cast of TWO MANY MOMS for sharing your tricks for memorizing lines!