• If you decide to pursue acting, you’ll need to learn to memorize accurately.
  • Using a memorization method will help.
  • This is the method I recommend.
  • Read it over before memorizing this week’s script:

  1. First, read the script over a few times to get a basic understanding of it.
  2. Next, read the script aloud once or twice. This can help you get a better sense of its internal rhythms (where the natural “breaks” in it would be.)
  3. Then, break the script down into small chunks.  Don’t try to memorize the whole script all at once.  Memorize EACH SMALL CHUNK at a time, then add the next chunk to it.
  4. Set aside a time, or times, to practice it, and mark them on your calendar. Even for a short script like this, I recommend setting aside least two 1-hour time blocks to practice it.
  5. Remember that our goal as actors is to memorize the exact words, not an approximate version. (“Put the glasses in the cupboard” is not the same as, “Be sure to put the glasses in cupboard.”)
  6. The method I recommend that you start with is to SAY THE WORDS ALOUD, writing down the FIRST LETTER of every word as you say them.
  7. Then try “reading” the words from the letters you wrote down.
  8. Then say them from memory.
  9. Then read them again from the letters you wrote down.
  10. If you forget any words, bo back to #6 again, writing down the first letter as you say the words aloud.
  11. Be sure to put in punctuation just like you would if you were writing complete sentences. For example, the line: “Honey, have you seen my shoes? They’re not in the closet.” would read as: “H, h y s m s?  T n i t c.”
  12. AFTER you have done the “one letter/one word” method to learn the basics, I recommend making an audio recording of the script, and playing it over and over. There are several ways you can do this:
    1. You might RECORD THE ENTIRE SCRIPT, and listen to it over and over
    2. Or, you could just RECORD YOUR CUES and a silent space on the recording during which your character would reply.
    3. An even better method is to record YOUR CUES, then leave a silent space for your character to answer, then record your character’s answer at the end of the blank space. This gives you immediate feedback on whether you’ve spoken the words accurately.
  13. AFTER memorizing it, practice saying it with different emotions, so you don’t get locked into just one emotional approach.
  14. Also practice MOVING AROUND THE ROOM while saying the lines, doing things like moving items or doing housework.
  15. Meeting with other actors (or students) to run lines before a performance is also a good idea. Some students arrange to come early to class to run lines. Others arrange to rehearse over the phone or by skype.
  16. This video has a good summary of the “one letter-one word” method:

About Nils Osmar

Nils Osmar was born in Alaska, and grew up in a wilderness area on the southern coast. He now lives in Seattle. He has made his living in the arts for over thirty years, working as a writer, visual artist, teacher, and filmmaker. He currently teaches through the University of Washington's ASUW Experimental College. He is the Director of an independent educational program,, which offers courses in visual, written and performing arts in Seattle, Washington.

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