Tutor Interview: Line Learning with Confidence
For many actors, learning lines is the least enjoyable part of their career – often leading to self-sabotaging that can undermine your confidence and become a major career obstacle. Our brand-new dedicated short course, Line Learning with Confidence, is the answer to unlocking this issue through tried and tested RADA training and techniques which enable any professional actor to learn and remember lines in an organic, reliable and effortless way.
We caught up with course director Brigid Panet to ask her what makes this course unique and why this skill is so important for anyone entering our industry today.
Why do you think line-learning is such a widespread challenge for actors?
The way we think and respond to the world and each other has been changed by technology – by phones and screens. That's going to change the function of the brain and the memory ... the natural link between vocal mechanism and memory is underdeveloped. And then when we try to learn lines, we find it increasingly difficult.
Professional actors nowadays often get a script on Tuesday night and have to be in front of camera on Wednesday morning. So how do we deliver truthful, connected acting in this timeframe? You can only be believed if you're telling the truth; and it has to feel personal for it to feel real.
What kinds of memorisation techniques are not serving actors well?
The memory systems going back to Ancient Greek times when everybody learnt orally are called ‘memory palaces’. This technique uses visualisations of familiar spatial environments and specific physical locations in order to enhance the recall of information.
For example, if I'm going shopping, I may mentally associate different items I need with different parts of my journey there - associating bread with the front door and butter with the footpath and so on. Memory palaces are useful for remembering facts, but not useful for actors.
What techniques do you teach on the course?
The techniques I teach are about bringing the script to life. We remember what is meaningful to us.
So, in this course, one of the techniques we use is to create a ‘story-board script’, where we codify the lines into symbols for each mental image it conjures and formulate them into lines of thought. It encourages the actor to just slow down. Everything goes wrong when you hurry. Most people find slowing down a huge relief as it gives them time – particularly dyslexic actors, they look at the text in a way they haven't looked at it before. It’s part of creating what Stanislavski calls the internal film.
Another technique I teach is the ‘map of me’. We create a map of meaning and personal significance, starting with the present moment and branching out to people and places that are meaningful. As you place each thing on the map, it becomes real to you. Something that is real to you is something that has meaning. Something that has meaning is something that you are going to remember. And then we apply this to the characters we must play. When we’re acting, we have to allow the imagined situation to mean as much to us personally as it would to the character in that moment. One of my former students told me that she has done a ‘map of me’ every morning ever since!
What else do you use on the course to complement and amplify these techniques?
We do lots of verbal questioning and repetition together. One person questions something about what the other has just said, and so they reiterate it more confidently because they connect more deeply with the meaning behind it and because they have been heard and understood.
Alongside the memorisation techniques, we have Katya Benjamin teaching a system of breathing and physical exercises that encourage the actor to involve their whole body in the process. She releases the body and gets the breath flowing, so that the actors are more relaxed, engaged and grounded when they approach the memorisation.
What do you hope students will gain from this course?
Confidence, practical skills, and the joy of using the talent they’ve been given.