Step 3 of 7 Acting Tips: Lines! by Aleator
It’s great to read a script, and many are worthy pieces of literature, but when it comes to your own task of getting those precious lines ingrained in your noggin, nothing is better than hearing them out loud and learning with other people!
Remember: every line is important! Everything from a “Hmmm?” to the longest of monologues exists for a purpose and is included to move the plot along and develop your character. Playwrights and screenwriters do not just put filler dialog to add pages to their script. When reading your lines think about who/what you are speaking to (if anything), your motivation to speak, and the goal of your speech. Its a sign of bad acting to throw away lines into mumbling or by ignoring the motives/tactics/goals of speech by your sheer laziness or ignorance.
Certainly one of the greatest and most essential things to recognize when memorizing and rehearsing a script are beats. Beats are shifts in the intention, motivation, etc. and are key to expressing a character as they truly are. Whenever anyone speaks in their daily conversation, they have beats. Beats reflect character goals and actions and can occur several times in a single sentence or may drag on for a page or two. Go through your lines and mark where you think a beat occurs and recognize how this would affect your performance.
Don’t pester your friends and family, but if you see one of them in no particularly busy state, politely ask if they would run your lines with you. More often than not they will oblige if you ask them kindly enough. The other person will usually get a kick out of seeing you act, and you both will get some laughs (well in my experience nearly everything can be comedic, so your experience may differ), you will strengthen your memorization of your lines, and have the opportunity to vocalize them in several different ways.
If said family and friends are unavailable or you prefer the hermit lifestyle, then a microphone will be your replacement buddy. Buy a cheap usb microphone or tape recorder and record and listen to your recording. This may be a preferable practice choice as the recordings can be stored for later use and will be helpful in memorization or specific vocalization such as accents or inflections, plus the recording device will never get bored or hungry and leave you to play video games.