Audition Tip | To Memorize or Not To Memorize?…What Casting Directors Really Want

As far as audition tips go, this question comes up over and over again:

Should I memorize the sides for my audition?

Based on my experience as a Casting Director, here is my answer:

Click below to watch this video audition tip now:

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Amy Jo Berman - Acting Coach
Amy Jo Berman's Tips On Acting & Auditioning Blog
Email: Asst@AmyJoBerman.com

“I show actors how to be better, book more jobs and live The Red Carpet life!”

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31 Responses

  1. Lambert Barnes says:

    Thanks for your guidance, Amy!! Always life saving and right on time:’)

  2. Caroline Tetschner says:

    Thanks. Helpful stuff as always!!

  3. Tyler Bowe says:

    Awesome !!! Thank you :-).

  4. Jamie Newell says:

    I heard that about Atlanta. I also heard they often cast from audition tapes without callbacks or live auditions in Atlanta.

    • Bj Wieland-Doucet says:

      It just depends on what the casting needs are. Sometimes you get call backs & sometimes you get live auditions. I’ve booked & never auditioned. A friend referred me & I got the gig. It’s just nuts! :-D

  5. Tony Pallone says:

    Thanks for this great advice. It sounds like this is geared toward TV/film work, though; would you say the same applies for theater?

  6. rosie gordon says:

    great tips! Like it! Thanks Amy

  7. John Heffley says:

    Can’t tell you how many times I have sweated this sort of thing. Here in Louisville, seems like they prefer to have them memorized. It does allow me to get into the act better but in the back of my mind I’m always wondering if I said it exactly like it was written. Thanks Amy Jo.

  8. andersongwen says:

    Thanks for the advice, Amy

  9. Doug says:

    I love AJB’s tips, but as a dialect coach, I would offer one huge exception regarding not memorizing sides for a first audition in markets like LA or here in NYC. If you learned English as an adult or you are acting in a language that you have trouble reading aloud well, you may need to memorize cold if you are given the sides in advance, especially, for example, if seeing a word like “talk” makes you want to pronounce the “l” simply because every letter is pronounced in your native language. (The “l” is not pronounced in “lk” at the end of a syllable in so-called General American or “Standard” American English.) Reading aloud may also be really tough for some dyslexic actors no matter how strong their spoken language skills. Get more training if you need it, but in the meantime, even in non-memorization markets, hold the sides or have them in your pocket so you don’t go up on your lines, and know visually where the various beats lie on the page, but go in ready not to look at your paper much or at all if reading is hard for you. I have seen some fantastic actors who are not good with paper compensate in this way and still get cast.

  10. Folami Fitzgerald says:

    Thank you Amy! This tip is a VERY helpful reminder because I’m here in LA and I often find myself being cocky and putting the script down to show I’ve memorized it. I haven’t flubbed up yet, but I will definitely hold my sides from here on out.

  11. Sharon Talbot says:

    Jamie, thanks. Again informative, down-to-earth, savvy.

  12. Wade Dienert says:

    Good stuff as always Amy. Thanks!

  13. Freddie Ganno says:

    Great Advice Amy! In NYC the same goes but in Baltimore it depends on the cd
    Thanks again!
    Freddie ganno

  14. jevell says:

    amy I have one question , can we do reality to get out there

  15. Ronald Patrick Thompson says:

    What if the part is just a few lines, do you still recommend holding the sides?

  16. I prefer doing my best to memorize it so I am not dependent on the script and get into character more. Also gives me practice in memorizing as I still haven’t found that quick way to memorize lines. I remember I memorized sides for this call back I had from an open audition. This was over ten years ago. I got so into character that I even didn’t realize I had changed some words without ego getting in way. ) This was back in 2003 and by far one of my fav auditions I ever did. I still had sides in hand but was not dependent.

    I did come across when I visited LA last April Crystal Carson and her technique for working with sides in auditions was really awesome.

  17. Andrea Havens says:

    Points well made again, Amy Jo, and I sure appreciate your sensible support! Reminders help me to feel more in tune with the demands of my beloved career. I always love a challenge and I love the feeling of greater confidence in handling them even more! Thrill beats anxiety :oD

  18. Jamie Newell says:

    We hold the sides in Chicago. Best tip I learned and use is to memorize your opening line and your closing line so you are certain to have your face and eyes to camera

  19. glen baggerly says:

    very nice advice and always love new input

  20. Thanks, Amy Jo. Having already lost one chance at a national tour, because I thought that “prepared” meant “memorized” (I blanked at the page turn, which wouldn’t have been the case if I hadn’t decided to leave the sides – er, outside), I appreciate the advice. Won’t make the same mistake again.

  21. Pamela Harris says:

    Great advice!

  22. Archie Cogollos says:

    That was great…one always does wonder….common sense wud be the ruile…If you tape well u have time …u can repeat til u got it…if you get them in advance….seems like you better have the beginning at least…and all that u can…but hold on to them…..thanks…always great advice…have fun be reckless….ciaoArch

  23. Emil Ferzola says:

    In New York it;s usually always a reading and in some instances they will post in their sides for you to memorize. But that is not the norm lately.

  24. Eric Bart says:

    Amy, thanks for the tip. I am also in the Atlanta market and most of the time, I have had to a cold read(YUK). The exception to that was were they wanted a video of you doing the side, so in that case, yes you had to memorize. Keep the tips coming.

  25. Jenny Hall says:

    Fabulous advice! Was very curious about Atlanta! Thank you :)

  26. Benjie Anderson says:

    As usual Amy, your advise and counsel is spot on! Thanks for helping actors go in and have the best possible chance to get a call-back(s) leading to landing roles, work and earnings.


  27. Bj Wieland-Doucet says:

    AWESOME TIP!! Here in Hotlanta they’re VERY fussy about memorizing lines when you get them in advance. I’ve only gotten my sides in advance once.

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