Need Help Memorizing Lines? There’s An App For That…SCENE PARTNER!

by Jim Hilgen

Back when I was acting and preparing for a role, I would usually go through my script, taking a highlighter to all my lines. Then I’d begin the process of memorizing those lines. In time, using a 3×5 card to block out my lines, I’d read the cues and try to repeat my response. It worked, but it was a tedious process that often would fail me when rehearsing off book with my fellow actors. Sound familiar?

Whatever process you may have developed, it undoubtedly has some severe limitations. Fitting quiet time to study into a hectic schedule is one of those limitations. Another can be wearing out your welcome with friends and family pressed into duty to assist as reading partners in the memorization process.

J. Kevin Smith, who for more than 30 years worked as an actor in the New Haven, Connecticut area, realized the need for a better way for actors to prep. This led him to work on developing SCENE PARTNER, an app that can help make learning lines and cues easier for actors. That work began in February 2010 and by November of 2010 SCENE PARTNER 1.0 was available through the iTunes App Store.

SCENE PARTNER takes a digital script and allows the user to assign either male or female voices to the various roles. But, this original program needed improving since there were only two voices available to aurally assist actors.

Those upgrades came with this summer’s release of SCENE PARTNER 1.5. Like its predecessor, the app is available for download to iPhones, iPods and iPads at a cost of $4.99. Smith says the new app still comes with two voices which the actor can assign to other characters in the play, but now as many as 17 additional voices are available for a modest download fee. And actors can assign either American or British accents to those voices, or make them male or female or even children.

Actors who may like to test drive the App can get a free download of SCENE PARTNER Lite. This version limits users to recording and playing back their lines and cues, and according to Smith doesn’t fully represent what can be accomplished with the paid version.

The program also allows the actor to record fellow cast members and upload their voices so the user can get a feel for working with the rest of the cast.

So, how does it work? I’m no techie, but Smith says the app uses Text To Speech technology which gives digital voice to the written word. The program analyzes the text of the script and can be set up to play back the entire script, or just one scene. Actors can also choose to work off their cues only, if they wish.

Smith says this adaptability provides a number of options for actors who can, in time, find the best way SCENE PARTNER can work for them.

For actors who find themselves drawn to performing the same role in different productions, having a SCENE PARTNER account means once your script is uploaded, it’s there forever. And, since we’ve all experienced directors who make this or that change to a script, SCENE PARTNER allows actors to edit the text as needed.

Signing up for a SCENE PARTNER account gives actors access to a growing library of public domain scripts, which includes the entire catalog of Shakespeare’s works.

Don’t have an iPhone, iPad or iPod? Fear not. Smith’s development team is working on a version of SCENE PARTNER that will work with Android phones. He says that App should be available by the Summer of 2012.

So, forget the highlighters, flash cards and driving friends and family crazy with repeated line runs, just head to the iTunes App Store and get your download of SCENE PARTNER, and take preparing for that next role to a higher level.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Exciting update as of 12/15/2011! Leading play publisher and licensor Dramatists Play Service, Inc. and mobile app developer, LLC have entered into a Worldwide Agreement for e-Script sales through the SCENE PARTNER App.  Launching their e-Scripts program in conjunction with DPS, will provide actors and theaters with instant access to the outstanding scripts in the Play Service catalog.  The rollout of titles will occur in stages and will begin in early 2012. Get full details on this update here or visit

Check out even more details regarding SCENE PARTNER in this video:

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Coz Baldwin December 15, 2011 - 8:48 pm

What a great idea!!! Wish I’d thought of it. 🙂

Ellen Wilson Dilks December 27, 2011 - 11:25 am

I have used a tape recorder for years. It has worked for me wonderfully. As a director, I have made a casual study of the many and varied ways actors learn lines. Some people need to connect the words to the movement; others need to write out their lines. It is fascinating to me. I try my best to facilitate each actor’s process. One thing that drives me nuts is actors who only memorize the last few words of their cue lines. If something goes wrong they are lost because they don’t know the full text of the scene.

Robert Beizer January 2, 2012 - 12:38 pm

In my experience both as an actor and a director is that if someone has memorized the last five words of their cue then they are used to using “sides”. Sides are min-scripts which contain your characters lines and the last five words of your cue… they do not always indicate which character speaks those cue words.

Sides are usually provided by the publishers of musicals for use mainly by the non-leading roles in a production. This varies from publisher to publisher. The leads are often provided with copies of the directors script ( or something similar) which includes the entire play.

Robert Beizer January 2, 2012 - 12:45 pm

Too bad they don’t yet have the app ready for Android phones. I just bought a new one over the holidays.

Jack Shaw
Jack Shaw January 18, 2012 - 9:44 am

I’m with the Android users, too. Could have used this long ago. My own method for memorizing may not be the best and with age comes more difficulty. It’s time has come. I’d like the drama publishers offer short-term reads of entire scripts being considered for productions. This only makes sense to me. Anyone else? sure, the companies make money off the initial investment, but they do a lot better if someone actually follows through and produces the play. That’s my take. What’s yours?

Will Rompala January 21, 2012 - 5:48 pm

I’ve tried most of the apps out there for this and I strongly recommend ‘Rehearsal 2’ for th iPad and iPhone. Very well done. They’ve enhanced and nurtured an app with this that truly ‘gets it’ for learning your lines. You can highlight your lines, practice and with a quick touch, black out your lines so you can practice while reading the other actors cues. Works with PDFs, word docs and more. You can record and playback readings, annotate the script and so much more. I love it.

A M January 9, 2013 - 10:00 pm

any update on the android app? obviously summer of 2012 didn’t happen.

Pris September 26, 2013 - 8:39 am

Hi I’m echoing the last poster above me. It’s September 2013. Will be there be a comparable Android app? I’m in a beginner acting class and my classmate used Scene Partner. Couldn’t believer her and her scene partner had never met to practice beforehand. She relied totally on the application. I’ve searched on my android cell phone and there is no dedicated app like iPhone’s Scene Partner. Thanks PM


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