Exercise 25 - Memorizing


Editing a Scene - in four parts

1.) Sometimes it is necessary to edit a scene. One can do this by cutting it down in length, or combining two short scenes into a longer one or to delete references in a scene that are out of context with the immediate matters at hand. Sometimes a little rewriting, if permitted by the instructor, may be useful for “writing out” a minor character in the scene. Sometimes you can adapt a scene from a novel or short story. (Picture yourself as a practicing screenplay adaptor, for this is how many films began.)

2.) Once a script is fully edited, you and your partner must obtain exact duplicate copies.

3.) You and your partner must agree on the context of the scene. JR. Basic relationship of characters, what’s happening in the scene intention/goal.

4.) You and your partner should read the scene once or twice through, then start to memorize.

A. You must learn your lines exactly for six reasons: (6)

1. It’s the only way your partner can be sure about coming in on cue.

1. Learning lines exactly gives you a confidence in your role that you can

never have if you’re fishing for an exact way to say something.

2. Paraphrasing lines weakens your role, you will tend to reduce your role to a

common place character, rather than rise to the level created by the author.

3. By paraphrasing, you will probably defeat the author’s sense of timing and

diminish the power of the play’s build, climaxes, and rhythmic effects.

5. You will look bad in the eyes of those who know the play.

6. Finally, you are insulting the author and the theater itself by your laziness.

B. Many actors prefer to learn their lines in rehearsal going through their parts “on book” (script in hand until the lines are embedded in memory. This common practice invites certain problems.

1. While going through a part on book, you are not acting; you are reacting to the book, not the situation, and your main contact is not with the actors but with the script.

2. You may pick up patterns and reading in this “Running through” that have nothing to do with the interaction between you and your partner, but rather with your idea of what is theatrical about your part.

C. Robert Cohen says you should memorize lines by the following process.

1. Begin by underlining or highlight your lines.

2. Start reading text, read aloud for your own part, to yourself for the other Actor’s part. Start with a small section at a time.

3. Cover up your line and read the line above it, then say your line. Continue until memorized.

4. At this point, memorization is still shallow; it needs to be set. Lines tend to disappear during intense scenes. Therefore, it’s necessary to set in a variety of ways. JR. While jogging, cleaning bathroom, showering, etc.


Always learn your lines from your partner’s cues. There are usually two cues for each line.

1. Action Cue - (Prompts you to speak)

2. Line Cue - (Actual cue you come in on.)

Example: Cathy - I thought you were the one on the telephone. (Action)

Well,were you?(Action) Tell me the truth!(Line)

Paul - Yes.(Action) It was me. (Line)

Studying and Rehearsing


-Studying is the private part of actor preparation; rehearsal is the public part.

-Studying leads you to the character: what your character wants, fears, expects, and is capable of trying. VOTE

-You do this entirely by yourself, but keep in mind director’s guidance. Your acting partner is not your consultant; his or her concern should be their character.

-The best acting scene will be the result of a dramatic confrontation between individualism that must be nurtured in private: thus the importance of private study.

Rehearsals are a wonderful opportunity to practice & develop the dramatic confrontation between your character and acting partner’s character. Rehearsal originally meant “re-harrow” or “cultivate the field again” French -repetition

Rehearsal is repetition until all the lumps are gone.

Rehearsal tips:

1. Begin by “running lines” /read through

2. Don’t try to act - but don’t be monotone

3. As you run lines, you will begin to slide into acting.

4. This sliding will help you discover yourself in your role.

5. As soon as comfortable run lines off book (try different locals or activities to be sure to get imprinted into your brain (set lines).

6. Don’t try to analyze rehearsals -it causes scenes to lose freshness.

7. Never try to direct your partner (this causes self-consciousness)

Note: The second quarter test is to be given at this time.

Exercise 25 Scenes For Two (50pts)

Now it’s time to hand out scenes for two! In pre-selected pairs, hand out a script from Great Scenes From The World Theater Volume 1. The students will have a few weeks to do off book checks (making sure their lines are memorized at the required stages), work on blocking, (where their characters go and what they physically do on stage), and gather costumes and props. They will also be required to turn in a VOTE on their character. These scenes will not only be performed for the class, but also for other invited classes. This is their first semester final.

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