Acting for Models: How to Memorize a Script

Before I get into the actual methods… quick preface: in the dramatic acting world, most casting directors won’t care if you memorize lines verbatim. Being off-book right away would be an impressive feat for a new actor in a full-length production. BUT… commercial work tends to stay close to the script because the client is selling a product. So this post is just a few acting basics for models getting into commercial acting. Whether it’s a creative project, an audition, or a full-on production (hooray!)… here are a few methods I’ve stolen from actor friends over the years.

Theatre. In way over my head here...

Theatre. In way over my head here…

The Stack Method

For short commercial scripts with scientific or otherwise tricky language, this is my go-to. I usually stack lines while I’m cleaning, or doing laundry, or my nails… always some rote task so I’m slightly off-focus and my mouth is forced to memorize the words. Mouth and tongue muscle memory is especially helpful for tricky verbiage. Try saying “multi-mode, molecular microplate reader” casually and confidently in a string of sentences… unless you’re an industry expert this kind of phrasing doesn’t exactly slide off the tongue.

The Write and Cut Method

Script work

1) Write it out. Recopy the script word for word. Read it through several times out loud.

2) Write it out again, but remove the vowels. Again, do several read-throughs.

3) Last re-write. Write it out again, but only write the first letter of each word. My lady actor friend Becky shared this one while we were working on the stage production of “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown,” and Robert Downey Jr. talks about this method on Actor’s Studio. (P.S. this entire episode of Actor’s Studio is amazing…).

The “Talk Over Me” Method

1) Another share from my actor friend Thomas. He had a lengthy monologue he had to nail in one shot (stage work is intense!). Between rehearsals, he’d ask me to talk “at” him (explain my day, or how to do something) while he recited his lines.

Best stage dog ever.

Best stage dog ever.

Memorizing lines takes time, and memorizing thoroughly and right away allows you to make the choices you need to build the right character. Invest correctly, and make your shoot day as easy on yourself and everyone else. Break a leg!

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