Seven Tips for Learning Lines
The following tips are for young actors as well as parents, family and friends looking for strategies to support them.
Run lines with someone else e.g. parent, sibling, friend, another actor - the one who is assisting should ask the performer to repeat parts that are not quite memorised yet until the lines come naturally. Identify the lines you often forget and focus on strategies for remembering next time.
Learn the cue lines! You should learn not only your line, but the line or action that comes before yours (it is common for young performers to 'know their lines' but not know when to say them! As an exercise/fun game, a parent/friend could feed all the cue lines in quick succession and see how quickly the performer can respond.)
Make it fun! To add extra fun and challenge, you can turn learning lines into a game. E.g. you could play a game of catch while a parent or friend feeds you your cue lines, forcing you to multitask and think fast! Some performers also find singing the lines helpful e.g. playing along with a piano or making up a song.
Use positive reinforcement & rewards: For young performers, parents/guardians could develop a reward system (lollies can be a great motivator for little ones, or maybe a trip to the movies for older performers as a reward for hard work learning lines). And for young adult performers, you can promise yourself rewards for learning lines e.g. if I work on my lines intensively for thirty minutes, then I can watch my favourite TV show etc.
Record yourself (e.g. on an iPhone) running lines with someone else. Try to say the lines in the way you’d like to perform them (with emphasis, volume, feeling etc.) then play back before bed. Listening and repetition can be great for memory retention.
Write out the lines. Some performers find it helpful to write out their lines (and cue lines) on a piece of paper (without looking at the script), then compare to the script after to see if they got it right word for word.
Seek support when needed. A parent, sibling or friend can help make you accountable and make learning lines much more fun, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help and encouragement. You can also reach out to a Budding Theatre tutor for more help and advice.