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Actors | Memorize And Screw Up | Secret of Success Revealed

Great performance comes from over memorization
Great performance comes from over memorization

The secret technique of "Over Memorization"

During my coaching, I have seen many actors memorizing their lines and performing roles reasonably well in the classes. However, the feedback I got from the casting directors and directors is that many actors, though do well in rehearsals, fail miserably in a final audition and filming a shot. They just get stuck and fail to remember their lines. You can very well realize the consequences of such failures on a set!
They fall to pieces. Why?
On a set, the moment an actor hears a shout from a director, “Lights!” “Sound!” “Camera!” and then “Action!” everything become “still”. The fear grips him/her! The actor feels fright, and a fear grips! There are hundreds of eyes staring at the actor. The actor starts... Mess up and stops!
The director shouts “Cut” and that’s the end of it.
Then I realized.  The actors did not know their lines, at least NOT WELL ENOUGH! Because under stress, mere ordinary memorization just simply isn't enough

So, what is the solution to this fright in front of the camera to deliver your lines naturally and smoothly?

Over-memorize and over-memorize!
Till they become a part of you, a part of your natural thinking and speaking process.
Have you ever observed a Hindu Pujari (A priest) reciting long shlokas (verses) in either temples or performing long religious prayers without any effort? He does this while conducting much other simultaneous work. Have you ever thought how can he do this? Simple. Memorizing and practicing day in day out to an extent that it becomes an integral part of his self. The words thus come out without any effort.
Alternatively, for that example, hear a politician. A flawless speech, which is mostly pre written or scripted!
The same principal applies to memorizing dialogues. 

Suggestions for Over Memorization

There are two situations:
1/For auditions

  • You get your lines few minutes before auditions.
2/When you are already selected for a role 

  • In this case, if you are lucky, may get the lines few days before a shoot.
1/ Let us find a way to memorize few minutes before an audition
For example, suppose you get the following chunk of lines to play for your audition.
तेजी से बढ़ते स्मार्ट फोन ने कहीं भी किसी जगह किसी की भी तस्वीर उतारने की सहूलियत दे दी है। कुछ लोग तो खुद के फोटो खींचने के बड़े शौकीन होते हैं। इसी शौक के चलते यहां एक शातिर चोर जेल की सलाखों के पीछे पहुंच गया।
हुआ यूं कि यहां के एक घर में चोर महाशय चोरी की वारदात को बड़ी ही सफाई के साथ अंजाम देकर चलते बने। वारदात की पड़ताल करने आई पुलिस को मौके से एक मोबाइल मिला। उस फोन से कोई खास क्लू नहीं मिला लेकिन जैसे ही फोटो के फोल्डर को खोला गया, तो पता चला कि फोन का मालिक खुद की फोटो खींचने का बड़ा शौकीन है। उसने अलग-अलग एंगल्स की अपनी कई तस्वीरें खींच रखी हैं। बस फिर क्या था, पुलिस ने फोटो वाले व्यक्ति की तलाश शुरू की और महज चंद घंटों की मशक्कत में वह पुलिस के हत्थे भी चढ़ गया। फिर तो पुलिस को जुबान खुलवाने में कितनी देर लगी होगी, यह आप भी समझते हैं।
I recommend memorizing one line at a time. So, pick line one

तेजी से बढ़ते स्मार्ट फोन ने कहीं भी किसी जगह किसी की भी तस्वीर उतारने की सहूलियत दे दी है।

  • Read 7 times looking at it. Then close the line and 7 times without looking at it. Once through, add the second line
कुछ लोग तो खुद के फोटो खींचने के बड़े शौकीन होते हैं।

  • Repeat step 1. Continue in this way with all the lines until you have memorized the entire chunk. Underline key words in each line which can jell the entire sentence/para in your mind, instantly. If you forget any line, start with the steps again. 
You must continue speaking your lines until you are called in for the audition. Before you enter into the hall, tell yourself, “I’m gonna give a great performance”
Good luck
2/ When you are already selected for a role
Congratulations! You are selected for a role and get a script few days before a shoot.
My goodness! I’m in 6 scenes with a total of 70 lines!

What is the difference between memorizing lines of a monologue (e.g. Example of lines mentioned above under “auditions”) and that of a dialog?

The biggest difference is that, aside from memorizing your lines; you have the extra task of memorizing things other people say

  • Read the entire script slowly and carefully at least 3 times. Identify the objective of the script. Similarly, read the scenes in which you are featuring as a character and identify the objective of the scene. Identify tempo of a scene and the rhythm of your character
In addition to what I have mentioned as a method under “For auditions”, adopt the following over memorizing technique
Example of a flash card for memorization
Example of a flash card for memorization

Use flash cards, as shown above (a size which can be easily put in your pocket):
  1. Draw a margin where you will write the keywords of your line 
  2. Start with writing the cue for your lines (e.g. Lines of your co-star before your lines). Draw a horizontal line and then write your succeeding lines. Draw a horizontal line and write a 2nd chunk of your lines. Your lines should be in bold and with different color sketch pen
  3. After this, select key words for line by which you can instantly recollect the entire sentence. Put these words on a left sidebar (margin you have created)
  4. Memorize both, co-actor and your lines together. Now, cover your lines with a paper, read co-actor’s line and then speak your hidden lines
    Drawing own story board
    Drawing own story board

  • Draw a series of pictures of a particular scene, create a cloud above your picture and write your dialogs. Similarly, do the same above your co-actor’s image. You need not to be a drawing artist. Once a day
  • Say your lines in front of a mirror and move your face or your arms in a special way to emphasize specific words or passages. Thrice a day
  • Write your lines on a paper repeatedly. Write words or lines in bigger fonts! Five times a day
  • Know your character. “Why, ” he says?
  • Act out your lines as you say them.
  • Try memorizing backward and then forward.
  • Learn your lines with exaggerated gestures. Even yelling!
  • Record your lines on a cell phone and listen all the times. Repeat them switching off mobile.
  • Make your lines into a song and sing your lines. For example, fit your lines into “Twinkle, twinkle little star” or “Mera Joota Hai Japani”.
  • Get on your feet. Keep in mind when you are at ”X” place, you say this. Then at “Y” place, you say this. Likewise, you practice. Thrice a day
  • Type your lines in Microsoft Word with different letter size and color. Once a day
  • Sky write your lines, as we use to write words in a sky as a child
  • If possible, get into a character’s costume and practice your lines
  • Get a great reading friend who will speak lines in cue and with whom you can practice a few times a day.

  1. Set a plan and time schedule for memorizing and practice
  2. Steady practice and persistence is key to memorizing
  3. Don’t stop if you think you have memorized your lines. The brain has a funny tendency to forget large chunks of new material very quickly. Therefore, you have to keep it fresh in your mind.
  4. Initially give a break every half an hour or so. Then, see if you can speak lines without looking at the paper. Okay, you can do it.
  5. Don’t relax on day2!   Test yourself in the morning, while taking a shower, getting dressed, or whatever; You got to keep this new material alive and current in your mind for at least a few days before you can think to relax a bit and give a gap. In my opinion, don’t give a gap even for a day. In fact, you can relax only when all of your scenes are filmed and okayed
    Wishing you a great performance!

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  1. Thank you for sharing such wonderful article and revealing some of the Hidden Secrets of Success.

    1. Thanks. Keep reading and enjoy other posts, as well


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