Learning/Memory Mnemonics

Part 1: How Do Actors Memorize All Those Lines?

You have no doubt asked yourself this question after watching a play: “How did those actors memorize all those lines?”. In previous episodes of The Psych Files I have discussed a few of the techniques actors use to do this, but on this episode I have an interview with a professional actor, Jared Kelner, who wrote a fascinating book exactly on this topic. It’s called, naturally, “Line?”. If you’re interested in psychology, memory, and how actors accomplish the amazing feat of memorization – especially for long plays containing many many lines (perhaps for a Shakespearean play). Here are the answers.

On this episode of The Psych Files, host Michael Britt sits down for an interview with Jared Kelner, an actor and author of the book “Line?” In his book, Jared delves into mnemonic devices and memory tricks that actors use to memorize their lines. Michael and Jared both share an interest in acting and mnemonics.
During the interview, Jared recounts attending a sales techniques seminar where the content was initially dull. However, the seminar teacher introduced memory tricks that completely transformed the experience. By employing a numerical peg list technique, the class was able to easily remember a list of ten words. This incident sparked Jared’s fascination with creative imagery and its effectiveness in improving memory.
Jared highlights the distinction between rote memorization and character development for actors. While rote memorization involves repetition or highlighting of lines, Jared emphasizes the importance of using creative techniques to memorize lines instead. Listeners will be drawn into the debate of whether this new method is more challenging or time-consuming than traditional rote memorization.
Throughout the episode, Jared offers practical advice for actors struggling with line memorization. He encourages the use of mnemonic techniques until they become unnecessary and suggests not overthinking during delivery. Jared recommends identifying specific lines causing difficulties and finding connections between lines to aid memory recall. He also advocates for getting creative and finding ways to embody the words rather than solely relying on mental recall.
Listeners will also learn about Jared ‘s journey in studying memory improvement techniques and developing an in-person training program. His experience teaching memory tricks to actors paved the way for his book, “Line?” which contains practical tips for actors and non-actors alike.

This episode of The Psych Files is a fascinating exploration of how actors utilize mnemonics to enhance their line memorization. Listeners interested in memory, psychology, or theater will find this conversation both informative and engaging.



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