BY KRISTOPHER KYER
Memorizing lines easily and quickly is an integral part of an actor’s work. I often play roles that have nonsensical, flowery words and patter songs that never end. And I have never been a “quick study.” But for me, I begin as early as possible memorizing to get the “book” out of my hand. Memorization is 10% of acting. Get the book out of your hands, and you can start working on the other 90% acting with choices!
Basically, you memorize “thoughts” not words. Look at each two lines between characters and say the thought of the line out loud in your own words. Solidify the meaning first, then go back and memorize it word for word. My fellow actors know that I “go up” (forget a line) from time to time…and my eyes get HUGE. They know that if they get the “thought” out we can move on. I literally draw “parallel” lines in my script after every two line exchange. That way I get the “moment” memorized.
I find working on lines in a less cluttered room, away from everything else in your place really helps. AND – working on them just before you go to sleep tends to really get them to stick. When doing a musical, the music and lyrics are CONSTANTLY playing in my car over and over and over. I find little one word lines like “indeed” can reallllly be sticklers! But again, the more you work the muscle the faster it seems to retain. I once did 15 episodes of a TV show in the starring role in just THREE WEEKS! We would block and shoot an entire episode in one day..I would go home at night and learn 50 or so pages of dialogue to shoot the next day. I did it, and my mind got sharper and sharper. Some SOAPS give you new pages while you are in your make up chair. Some writers of live studio audience taped sit coms change lines right during the taping.
The bottom line is, work the muscle and it becomes easier and easier.
Kristopher Kyer teaches acting to youngsters and others in the television and stage industry. He has also performed in Ventura County productions like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Music Man.