How Not To Spazz Out If You Forget Your Lines

What do you do if you forget your lines while performing your monologue at an audition?

The most dreaded actor’s nightmare, at least one of them anyway, is forgetting your lines.  What can be worse than forgetting your lines!?  Spazzing out while forgetting your lines.  Have you been there yet?  The coldness creeping over you like a black fog and all you can do is blink and widen your eyes like a robot that’s just been turned on but isn’t quite sure if you know how to speak or move?  The sweat suddenly appearing on your forehead combined with the hot flush of blood racing to your neck and chest, making you completely self-conscious.

Okay, let’s chill.  It’s not that bad and it’s all in your mind.

If your mind goes blank on you, the best thing you can do is keep going, otherwise what is your alternative?  Nine times out of ten whoever you are performing in front of may not even notice you forgot your lines.  Even if you are working with material they are familiar with, you can get away with your deer in headlights moment if you stick to one thing…IMPROVISE.

I’m not saying break into, ” Hello, Dolly” and shuffle yourself out of the room…improvise in the sense of staying true to the scene at hand.  You may have forgotten your next word but you won’t forget why you are there in the scene to begin with and you can improvise dialogue based on your character’s intentions in the scene.

  • SIDE NOTE:  It’s even a good idea to do an exercise on your monologue in rehearsal with improvising the intention of your character because it will loosen you up and give you a foundation incase you do forget your lines while performing.  You will have more confidence and won’t even worry about forgetting your lines because you are too involved in what’s going on anyway.

If you know the context of the scene, the meaning behind the words you speak, the concept, idea, whatever the monologue is about…as long as you have an understanding of what you’re character is expressing and why, then you keep moving forward as if it’s a spontaneous moment that has happened, because in reality it is, isn’t it?  That’s a good thing because acting is about spontaneity and when something happens that you did not foresee and wasn’t pre-meditated, that’s when you take full advantage of where it can lead you and you may surprise yourself and everybody else in the room.  If it doesn’t lead you back to the text that’s okay.  Remember, you know the context of the scene, play it to its end.

Take advantage of the opportunity of forgetting your lines.  It can actually be the best thing that could have happened to you.

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Joseph Arnone

Joseph Arnone is the founding editor-in-chief of Monologue Blogger. In addition to running MB, Joseph is a filmmaker/producer who has had his films premiere at Festival de Cannes - Court Metrage and Tribeca Cinema's Big Apple Film Festival. He can be reached at