New Member: actor with questions



I am an actor in New York interested in getting into Mnemonics. I just finished a run of Hamlet and read Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein during rehearsals and was blown away. I memorized the complete text of Hamlet by rote which was both arduous and time consuming so I thought the various palace/loci techniques might prove more effective.

Though I am sure the palace/loci techniques (excuse me if this is improper jargon) would be faster than learning by rote, I have some concerns about utilizing the text in practice. It is my understanding that when recalling memorized material it requires one’s complete attention, which as an actor is quite unhelpful. Lines memorized by rote are useful because they become 2nd nature, requiring no attention to recall.

If I were to memorize lines using a palace could I recall those lines without it requiring my full attention?

If not, would loci memorization prove a more effective bridge to complete memorization than rote?

Also, if I were to hear a quote or excerpt from a piece of text I memorized would I be able to associate and recall that excerpt’s placement in the whole? For example, if I were to memorize a large list of people and their professions, if someone were to mention a listed name could I immediately recall their profession?

Would really appreciate your help!


Greetings. Good to have an actor here. I recall reading in one of Harry Lorayne’s books that Alan Alda used his methods and heaped praise upon him. Lorayne used a “peg” system, a close relative of the memory palace, and no doubt taught this to Alda.

Like any other skill, the more you practice using these techniques, the easier they are to use in practice. If you have to memorize a script where you have perhaps 50 lines, you could create a 50/loci memory palace using a place you’re intimately familiar with, like your home. You’d create 50 locations, and make sure you always walk through them in your mind in the same sequence. When memorizing lines, you’d create an image or two and place them on your loci. The specific loci an image resides on would remind you of the sequence of your lines. You could even place images for the line that immediately precedes your line, if you need a prompt. Suppose, for example, your first line is “Where can I find the subway?”, and it is invoked while walking down a busy New York street. On your locus, you place an image of a busy street, and on the same locus place an image of a street sign showing the directions to the nearest subway entrance. When you think of that particular locus (suppose it’s your bed in your master bedroom), you’ll see that image of the street and the subway sign, and hopefully this will be enough to remind you of your line. I’ve never been an actor (well, not since High School, ha ha), but I do recall that most people, when forgetting their lines, didn’t need someone to give their entire line to them, they just needed a short prompt to stimulate their memory.

For your question about a list of people and their profession, you could do this using simple association. If someone’s name is Chris, and he’s a doctor, then I would imagine a big cross (my image for “Chris”), with a white lab coat and stethoscope draped over top of it. When someone mentioned Chris, I’d see that image of the cross with the lab coat draped over it, and I’d remember Chris is a doctor.

The advantage of having a script ahead of time to memorize is that you normally have a long time to work on your images. Unlike a memory athlete, who might have 15 minutes to memorize a long poem (like in the USA Memory Championship), you might have an entire week (or month), so you could really get familiar with your memory palace and your images. Review is the key to making the recall fast and accurate, and once this familiarity is established, you will no doubt be able to recall your lines without much effort.

I hope this helps you a little, but I also hope some fellow actors here will chime in.


Thanks a lot for the reply! It seems like it could be super helpful.

What’s the best way to get started?

Are there tutors I could find in New York? Is the software on this site any good?

I think I understand the concept, but i’d like some help to get started.

Really appreciate your help.


(Josh Cohen) #4

If you post an example list of characters and professions in a comment here, we could walk through an example of how you could memorize the information quickly.


Johnny Briones (Parkouristx on here) is a fantastic coach (and memory athlete, one of the best in the USA) and has developed a wonderful program:

Also, check out, the site of 2-time World Memory Champion Alex Mullen, for some wonderful videos on Memory Palaces. Also, check out Ron White’s channel Ron White is a 2-time USA Memory Champion who has some amazing videos out there.

If you post an example list of characters and professions in a comment here, we could walk through an example of how you could memorize the information quickly.

Hey sorry for the late response, but would this script work as an example?

Here’s also a small list of names I could practice with.
Amerifilm Casting, Inc.
Casting Directors
Amy Gossels Casting
New York, NY 10021
Avy Kaufman Casting
Casting Directors
Baby Wranglers Casting, Inc.
Bambini Casting & Wrangling/Michele Avantario
Barbara McNamara Casting, LLC
Barden/Schnee Casting
Beech Hill Films
Beth Melsky Casting
Boland/Hope Casting
Bowling/Miscia Casting
Calleri Casting
Carol Hanzel Casting
Caroline Sinclair Casting

Thanks for your suggestions tracym, i’ll check them out.

Really appreciate it guys

(Josh Cohen) #7

If you want to link names to those companies, then you could do something like this:

| Person  | Company             |
| Alice   | Beech Hill Films    |
| Bob     | Beth Melsky Casting |
| Charlie | Boland/Hope Casting |

Then create one mnemonic image for each person and one for each company. Then link the images.

“Alice” might be “Alice in Wonderland”.
“Bob” could be “bobbing for apples”.
“Charlie” could be “Charlie Brown”.

“Beech Hill Farms” could be a beech tree.
“Beth Melsky Casting” could be an image of Beth-lehem (same etymology as the name: beth = “house”)
“Boland/Hope Casting” could be an image of someone bowling.

Then create mnemonic links between the image pairs:

Alice in Wonderland is climbing a beech tree.
Someone is bobbing for apples in Bethlehem.
Charlie Brown is bowling.

If that example doesn’t make sense, let me know and I’ll explain in more detail.


Hey Rain! Good question: there is a great need for mnemonic techniques surrounding memorizing one’s lines for a play or show. Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, a strict mind palace where an image is used for each word for a script is prohibitively difficult. Even if you managed to do it, the amount of time it would take for you to close your eyes, travel along your palace,and recall the appropriate image and the word it stands for would be too long. With that being said, I believe that there is room for using the method of loci when memorizing your lines. It just has to be done a bit differently. For instance, instead of creating an image for each word in the line, only create an image for the first word or two. THEN, instead of placing that image in a mind palace, imagine it on the stage where you will actually be delivering your lines, and in the place where you will be delivering them. If I had the line, “But soft, what light through yon window breaks?”, I would only create an image of the words, “But soft”, and would imagine that image in the place on the stage where I am supposed to deliver that line. Does that make sense?

Good Luck!