I find learning lines through repetition and writing doesn't work for me - I am dyslectic. Don't stop reading here because you aren't!
This cost me many hours and a good chunk of change to learn. Actors hate line learning and anything that can help it a gift. I recently passed this onto students at Italia Conti and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School . On Sunday I also passed this to a head of acting at one of the best schools in the UK, who is writing a book on line learning. Why? Line learning is one of the toughest things actors have to do and its the one thing no-one talks about. A bit like no-one ever mentions breast feeding can be hard, as a father of four, no-one ever told me. Unlike breast feeding, this is a problem I don't get to dodge. Praise be to mothers!
Called Anchoring or the Loci technique, it is Kinaesthetic learning. You learn by feeling your body position, you learn it by doing it.
It is one of the oldest and best methods in history, Aristotle learned 3 hour speeches this way.
The technique below is called Anchoring or the Loci technique, I have tried lots of other ways of learning lines and this is fastest for me.
It is one of the oldest and best methods in human history.
1. Find a piece of text you want to learn. 2-3 minutes would be fine to start, but 40 pages also works!
2. Get some post-it notes and a dictaphone which you can record your speech into and play it back. Most smart phones have this function.
3. Record your speech and all the cue lines. Just read the scene through.
4. Now take the first line of your speech, for example "He's blue…he isn't breathing" and write on a post-it note a memory trigger word such as "DEAD". When you read "DEAD" on a post it note, it will make you think of the line, "He's blue…he isn't breathing".
5. Place this note on the wall of a room, or on a chair or on a bookshelf (any place in space) and say the line out loud "He's blue…he isn't breathing". See the word on the note and step along the wall/floor/carpet.... You now continue with the next line, for example "wake up, for Gods sake wake brother" you might write " RISE" on a post-it note to make the connection to waking up or you might find something else works better.
Place this note on the wall, repeat the line and take another step. Now do the same with the next line and the next... repeat this for the whole speech, this may fill your house with post-it notes, depending on how much you need to learn.
Artistole learned 3 hour speeches this way. When you have finished you will have a physical memory map which you can walk around in your imagination.
6. Next using your dictaphone recording of your speech, start at the beginning of your walk and see you first trigger word, for example"DEAD". Try to remember your first line, say it out loud, now play it back, to check you got it right. If its wrong repeat the line out loud to embed the right text.
Now move on playing in your cue line and pausing the playback before your line, say the next line looking at the trigger note, for example " RISE" now check it back from the recording, and the next and the next. This method can also be used to play in cue lines from other performers.
7. Walk around your memory room and keep repeating the learning process, try using the tape recorder less. The words will begin to slip in quickly.
8. You will soon be able to see the memory room in your mind, you will be able to walk around the space and see the anchors/trigger words on the post it notes, they will allow you to have a physical map of the text as you say the words.
9. After a short period you will begin to know the text "by heart" and this will free your performance allowing you to not think about the next line, it will just appear in your mind.
The method of loci memory technique was first described in written form in a Roman treatise on rhetoric called ad Herennium, but it also made appearances in treatises by Cicero and Quintilian. It’s an extremely effective mnemonic device and is still used by memory champions like Joshua Foer, author of the recent book, Moonwalking With Einstein.
I have studied methods and through both watching documentaries and visiting trainers like Claire Salter http://dyslexia-unlocked.com/about.html