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Do Actors Have to Memorize Lines for an Audition?

December 6, 2017 0 Comments

As an acting and modeling career coach and guest speaker, one of the most frequent questions I receive is: “do actors need to memorize lines before an audition?” Even though this is a pretty simple and straightforward question, the answer is actually rather complicated.

If the casting director says that all actors need to be off-book for the audition, then the answer is simple – you need to memorize your sides.

But you will find that most of the time, it is not mandatory for actors to have their lines memorized for the initial read.

So, if you are at an audition where you don’t have to be off-book, is there an advantage to having your lines memorized? Will being off book impress casting directors and give you a greater chance of booking the role?

The Answer Is…

The answer is no. Casting directors realize that you will learn your lines before the call back or shoot. Therefore, being a quick study and knowing your lines for the audition does not give you an advantage over the other actors.

If you can learn your lines and have them really solid for the audition, then, absolutely you should memorize lines before an audition. But, remember, you don’t get any extra points for having them memorized.

What’s Important

What is most important during an audition is having the ability to say your lines in a fluent, interesting, unique and conversational way. If you are not fully off book for the audition, there is a technique you should always be use. This allows you to consistently look at the reader or other actor during your read and periodically glance over at your sides to grab a few words.

Some actors try and show off their memorization skills by not even having the sides in their hands when auditioning. If you go with this approach, make sure you understand the risk, which is that your audition could blow up if you forget your lines.

This is what could happen if you try to memorize lines before an audition but don't do a good job

Don’t let forgetting your lines blow up your audition

Even when you think you have everything memorized, while you are in the middle of an audition, sometimes things happen and you could forget a word. Or, you might find your brain searching for the word, and even if you find it, your read will not be smooth.

Without the sides easily available, your audition will come to a screeching halt. That is not a good way to impress industry professionals.

Safety First

Even if I have things memorized, I always have the sides in my hand, just as a safety net.

There is another reason why it is not necessary to have your lines fully memorized. When auditioning off book, the casting director thinks that your preparation is fully completed and your read is as good as it gets.

The reality is that quite often we receive our lines the day/night before or sometimes the morning of the audition. That does not give us a tremendous amount of time to prepare.

However, if you give a great read, but are still referring to the sides periodically, they will think that the audition was amazing, and also think how much better it will be once it is fully committed to memory.

So, don’t stress out if your lines are not committed to memory for an audition. Be incredibly familiar with the lines, but feel free to use your sides when needed.

Want to Learn One Great Way to Memorize Your Lines? Watch this video blog.

Looking to Learn More about if You Should Memorize Lines Before an Audition and Memorization in General?

  • Here is a great video blog about memorization:
  • A Must Watch Video – 10 Secrets to Memorizing Your Lines

  • Here is a great workshop video called 10 Secrets to Memorizing Lines
    • Memorizing lines can be difficult. Learn 10 great ways to memorize your lines.
    • Order this video today and receive these 4 bonuses:
      • The Power Point used for the Webinar
      • Great web site that will help you learn the pronunciation of any words you are
        unsure how to pronounce
      • You can purchase a great app to help with memorizing lines
      • A great voice app that will help you practice your lines

About the Author:

Aaron Marcus has been a full-time actor and commercial model for over 30 years. His new book, How to Become a Successful Actor and Model is an Amazon Best Seller. Aaron has given his seminar: "Book the Job" over 600 times spanning 3 continents. He also offers online workshops. Aaron saves 5 days each month to give private on-line coaching sessions.

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