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Tips on Memorizing for Students

  • 1.  Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-03-2021 10:36
    Hi, everyone. Does anyone have any good tips for helping a student memorize a very wordy script? 

    MORE INFORMATION
    1. There are 6 actors in this full-length play, and this student has most of the lines.
    2. The opening performance isn't until January 21. However, we don't have another rehearsal until January 3.
    4. We rehearse Sunday thru Thursday from 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm.
    5. I believe the student is trying. He's just having a hard time. He could be overwhelmed by the number of lines.

    Of course, I've thought of taking a portion of each evening (30-40 minutes) to run lines with the student.

    I welcome any suggestions, especially some of the latest techniques.  Thanks





    Stan Coleman (he/his)
    494 West 10th Avenue
    Apt. 406
    Eugene, OR 97401
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    "When an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him." 
    Bayard Rustin  



  • 2.  RE: Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-04-2021 06:36
    In a time when all students live with AirPods in their ears, I would recommend recording the lines and then having the student repetitively listen to them. This is the same theory that helps them learn the lyrics to songs that they listen to over and over and over.

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    Amy MacCord
    Musical Theatre Teacher
    Westwood Middle School
    FL
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  • 3.  RE: Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-04-2021 09:33
    I have found with students who are having difficulty memorizing, that associating their lines with the logic of the cue and also with their physicality (blocking and gesture) can make a huge difference in their memorization and confidence.  In one similar situation with an actor who had tons of lines and was clearly struggling, I met with him individually and went scene by scene to secure this logic and physicality (including setting up furniture and adding gesture if needed to assist his memorization).  I didn't do this all at once, but a couple of scenes at a time.  Be sure to rehearse those scenes with the full cast as soon as you can in order to link everything together for the actor.  Because you will have a break soon, consider meeting with the student now and working some scenes before the break.  If this approach is working, suggest the actor do this at home by setting up a mini set and memorizing while doing all of the character's physical actions along with the lines.

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    Diane Landis
    MN
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  • 4.  RE: Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-04-2021 10:30
    Thank you, Diane. I appreciate your suggestions.

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    Stanley Coleman
    OR
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  • 5.  RE: Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-04-2021 17:16
    Find out if the student is a visual, aural, or tactical learner in other academic areas. Visual learners do well with reading the script over and over.
    Aural learners do well when they record themselves saying the lines and listening to the playback.
    Tactical learners do well with either writing the lines, or associating specific blocking with each line.

    Of course there are many other ways to learn lines in these different areas, but this gives you a place to start.

    Sent from my iPad




  • 6.  RE: Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-05-2021 16:30
    Thanks, Ann, for these helpful suggestions.

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    Stanley Coleman
    OR
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  • 7.  RE: Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-05-2021 11:18
    These are some of the things I found work with students having trouble committing lines to memory.

    1.  Clarify character objectives on lines that won't stick.  I used to ask, "What specific thing do you (the character) want to happen as a result of you saying this line."

    2.  As Diane said, physicality can help.  Movement prompts memory.  Placing a specific gesture or piece of blocking or business where an actor is having trouble helps, especially if the actor employs that movement every single time they rehearse or run lines.

    3.  Writing out by hand or typing lines from memory then checking them against the script helps some students.  Pushing on through a set of lines when writing or typing, even when unsure of the exact wording, can help an actor solidify the meaning of those lines.  Physically correcting the written or typed lines by comparing them with the script can improve accuracy.

    4.  The actor can try to diagnose why some particular lines are tripping him up.  Sometimes the same sequence of words is repeated and can cause a sense of "I've already said that!" Simply noting the fact that phrases are repeated X number of times helps.  Highlighting that repeated set of words in a different color works for some.

    5.  If the actor is freaking out and freezing up, you might try having the actors improvise the scene, then try it again with script in hand or with a stage manager on book.  If someone is running lines with the actor, you might have them throw out the words every time he hesitates, with him repeating the proffered words and continuing.  We normally want actors to struggle for the words before asking for a line, but a student who has engrained a habit of apologizing when asking for a line and is beginning to believe he will never learn the part needs to be pushed to develop fluidity.

    6.  Reading over the script immediately before going to sleep at night can be very helpful.  Literally immediately before.  Going to sleep in the scene allows the subconscious brain to sort through the chaos and make order.  Recording lines and listening to them while drifting off to sleep may be even more helpful for some actors.

    Good luck!

    ------------------------------
    CJ Breland
    Retired Theatre Arts Educator
    NC
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  • 8.  RE: Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-06-2021 18:51
    Thanks, C.J. I've tried some of these before, but I had forgotten them. Thanks for reminding me.

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    Stanley Coleman
    OR
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  • 9.  RE: Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-06-2021 15:01
    There's a great article called "Memory Play" from Teaching Theatre Spring 2015. It has some great exercises. I particularly recommend Building Up and Dance the monologue. If you can't find it in the online archives, let me know and I'll send it to you.

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    Cassy Maxton-Whitacre
    Theatre Department Coordinator
    Shenandoah Valley Governor's School
    VA
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  • 10.  RE: Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-06-2021 18:52
    Thanks, Cassy. I will definitely look for the article. I appreciate your recommending it.

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    Stanley Coleman
    OR
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  • 11.  RE: Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-08-2021 14:34
      |   view attached
    Someone else on the forum asked me to scan the article, so I figured I'd just post it here. You probably do this already, but I encourage my students to memorize by rote and then to run their lines while walking, working out, doing dishes, cleaning their room, etc.

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    Cassy Maxton-Whitacre
    Theatre Department Coordinator
    Shenandoah Valley Governor's School
    VA
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    Attachment(s)

    pdf
    Memory Play.pdf   327 KB 1 version


  • 12.  RE: Tips on Memorizing for Students

    Posted 12-09-2021 16:12
    Thanks, Casey. I've suggested some of these to students before. But it's hard to make them realize that it works. I'm going to try again.