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Practice Makes Perfect: Learning Your Lines

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You’ve landed a part in a big production!  Now it’s time to rehearse your lines.  This is your first go-round and you want to make sure you nail it.  Just how are you going to make sure you memorize the lines and get the mannerisms of the character down?

First, you must remember that line memorization is not only about “practice makes perfect.”  It takes dedication – and, not only to the specific role you’re reading for but dedication to the craft, in general.  The best actors are constantly working to improve their abilities.  They practice reading through lines whether or not there’s a role waiting for them.

Practice the lines aloud, in front of a mirror.  This way, you will not only be able to assess whether your voice is on point, but you’ll be able to make sure your mannerisms during the read are appropriate as well.  You can practice reading in different styles, dialects, or pitches to really nail a specific part.

When you haven’t been given a script to study, grab any monologue and run with it.  At first, you can select something that feels natural and a bit on the easier side.  Actor Jimmy Akingbola says, “Pick a monologue that is close to you and that you connect with.”  Once you’ve garnered a bit more experience, however, you might want to branch out and test yourself with a more difficult piece.

Actors who wish to diversify their portfolio and land a variety of different roles should practice speaking with a wide range of accents or dialects.  Even if you feel you want to be known as a diverse actor but aren’t sure yet which roles will best suit you, doing this will help you understand which voice styles you excel at, and this may help to determine your path.

Read through a script in one sitting and focus on trying to memorize as many lines as possible.  In the next, test yourself to see how you did.  But, don’t be afraid to peek if you’ve missed part of it.  Unless you have superpower memorization skills, getting the lines down pat will likely take several run-throughs.

You should also ask for the help of a friend, family member, or colleague when rehearsing.  Attend acting workshops.  Ask for help from the rest of the cast.  Remember, just because one method worked well for so-and-so doesn’t mean it will for you.  Everyone learns differently.  Don’t get frustrated—focus on finding what works best for you.

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