How to Learn a Shakespeare Monologue – 4.5 Great Tips

How to memorize a monologue

Remembering every line in a monologue is never simple. For some of us learning lines is a walk in the park while for others it seems like a dungeon experience.

But it certainly doesn’t have to be.

If you could use some help to face the dreaded ”To be or not to be” or ”Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow”, here are some exercises and techniques that will make you memorize anything quickly and retain what you’ve learned much more thoroughly.


This technique has recently gained popularity after actress and Youtuber Lauren Tothero posted a video about it on her channel

She claims to have memorized a 15-minute monologue using it. That’s just astonishing!

So, it must be quite advanced or at least require a fair amount of practice, right?

Well, let’s find out!

You will need a pen/pencil and a piece of paper or a notebook.

  1.  Take the text you need to memorize;
  2.  Write down the first letter of every word in a row*;
  3.  Read the text;
  4.  Try to recall the text from the letters you wrote down;
  5.  Repeat Step 4, increasing the speed every time;
  6.  Recite it without the paper.

*- IMPORTANT: Make sure you keep the capital letters and punctuation as they are in the original!

This technique is one of those things that are almost childishly simple, yet remarkably effective! Try it now!


This is a very creative way to take advantage of your brain’s ability to visualize and remember images. Although it works best on people with a strong imagination, everyone can speed up the learning process using it.

Look at this list words: computer, car, frog, sand, ship, pineapple, bottle, hand

Now, let’s memorize them in the exact same order.

We’ll start by creating a mental image of a computer and a car interacting with each other

IMPORTANT: The weirder, funnier, creative, or outright ridiculous this image is, the stronger neuron connections it will create in your brain

So, let’s get ridiculous:

  • Make things change places – a computer with wheels or a car with buttons, folding like a laptop;
  • Make them BIG – a huge folding car approaching an enormous frog;
  • Make them multiply – an army of gigantic frogs invading a sand town;
  • Make them interact (weirdly) – a ship in the shape of a pineapple crushing through the sand city and getting sucked into a giant bottle, only to be picked up by your uncle’s sweaty hand and thrown at Napoleon’s derriere.

Be a child, think crazy, think embarrassing!

Once you’ve ”drawn your story”, try to recall the entire sequence of images. Easy, right? Now do it backwards!

If at any point in the sequence you can’t recall what comes next, it means that the connection between the two isn’t strong enough. So, go back and change it to something more unconventional and bizarre.

Now, you may ask – how does that help me memorize long monologues?

I get it but trust me:

  1. With time and practice, it’ll become much easier to memorize long and difficult lists;
  2. Practicing The Link Technique will dramatically improve your ability to remember all kinds of sequences, even if you memorize them the ordinary way. In fact, when I first tried this technique I was much more impressed by how my overall working and long term memory improved.



Acronym technique is another great way to recall lines.

Most likely, you will not need this technique for every single line of a text you’re learning, but it may come in handy if there’s a couple that you’re really having difficulty with.

How does it work? Well, a little bit like the first technique we discussed in this post – start by writing down the first letter of each word, only this time the capitals and punctuation are irrelevant.

So, for example, let’s take some lines from Macbeth’s ”Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” monologue:

  • LINE 3: Creeps in this petty pace from day to day’--> CITPPFDTD
  • LINE 6: The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle --> TWTDDOOBC

You may ask, how does one memorize all this nonsense? It depends on what associations you see in those letters.

In some cases, the acronym will be some well-known word or something close enough for it to be associated with a word but mostly you will have to rely on your imagination and creativity.


Memory Palaces is probably the oldest memorization trick we know and it’s hard not to see why. It’s also one of the most powerful.

For example, Eight-time world memory champion Dominic O’Brien once managed to memorize 54 decks of cards in sequence, having seen each card only once. He did it using Memory Palace among other techniques.

Now, I think most of us have no serious ambition to beat or even come close to Dominic’s unbelievable achievement. But still, Memory Palace can be a great tool to help you memorize them monologues.

Its effectiveness lies in the fact that it combines experiences of the real world with our imagination.

Every one of us has at least a couple of places that we could describe in detail at any time of day, like rooms of our apartments, friends’ apartments, workplaces, grocery stores, etc.

These places will provide a framework or a map to put your imagined objects on. Let’s try it step-by-step.

How to Use the Memory Palaces

1. Pick your palace

To start off, you’ll need to choose a place you know inside out. It doesn’t always have to be a room, it can also be a certain location (like a street) or a route (like home to work).

You’re probably already thinking about your home and that’s a great first choice because it’s a place you know excellently. Keep in mind, the more detail you add to your mental picture, the faster and easier you’ll be able to recall it.

Also, it is important to outline a certain route in your Memory Palace, rather than just visualize a fixed scene. For example, just imagine yourself walking through the scene in your preferred direction.

If it’s a closed room – try going both clockwise and counterclockwise to decide which way is more comfortable.

If it’s a route, let’s say, from home to work, you could be super-frugal and use it both forwards and backwards. Naturally, this approach will be most effective in cities where opposite sides of a street can be very different at the same spot and therefore easier to make a distinction.

2. ”Decorate” your palace

Now that you’ve picked your palace, it’s time to start adding objects to it.

Just like Link Technique, Memory Palace works by making use of visual associations.

Remember, the funnier and crazier, the more memorable they will be.

Let’s try to memorize a couple of lines from Shakespeare’s ”Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” using the room in the picture below.

Now, I believe most of us will have no problem remembering the first line ”Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow”, but just in case you’re not sure – imagine yourself sitting in the middle of the room, watching Netflix on your tablet or doing whatever you do most frequently when procrastinating. After all, it’s ”tomorrow”. 🙂

Let’s go on!

  • Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

See that brown chair in the left corner? Now, picture a big and really creepy green being (a worm with a human’s head, for example) crawling on that chair very slowly, in this petty pace.

  • To the last syllable of recorded time

We’ll go clockwise and pick that striped sofa. For this line, visualize large and colorful letters of the word ”syllable” running an extremely short marathon across the sofa, breaking the finish line tape, with ”ble” being the last syllable. Also, instead of tape, you could visualize a wristwatch symbolizing time.

  • And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

In this line, we could imagine a very foolishly looking Paul Mccartney with his distinctive Beatle haircut, sitting on that shelf in the left corner and singing ”Yesterday”, simultaneously shining a flash-light in his own face.

N.B., it’s not important which word you choose as your keyword. For some of us, just one association may be enough to remember the whole line, others may prefer to make a couple of them. Try and see what works for you!



So, you’ve learned that beautiful monologue, you are able to recite it flawlessly, you’re satisfied. That’s a great feeling, isn’t it?

But that’s not the whole story. You have to revisit what you just learned to retain it for longer periods of time, even if it took considerable effort and sweat to learn it (no kidding, I get pretty warm when I use my brain creatively) and even if you feel you’ve just engraved that monologue in your mind.

So, should you repeat it every day? If you have the time and motivation – by all means, yes! The more you recall something, the easier it is to do it next time.

Also, start learning early to take advantage of your brain’s laziness. If it sees that there’s information that it gets asked to recall every day for at least a week, it will store that information in the long-term memory, just to save energy and ”work passively”. Thanks to that, you’ll be able to retain it for years to come.

Check out the video below if you want to learn more about how to repeat the information for maximum retention!

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