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How a creative read through can help select a play

So many plays, so little time

It can take a lot of time to find the right play for your club.  Part of your selection process may be getting people together to choose from a shortlist (see ‘How to choose a play’) – this is much more effective than people reading on their own as plays need to be heard and the discussion generated will be time well spent.  It might pay to have a small number of people read all of the ones on the shortlist and whittle them down to a maximum of 2 or 3 for serious consideration.

 

Very often Directors come forward with a play they want to direct followed by some form of casting.  Whilst it is important for the Director to choose something they are interested in, involving others in the process can be fun and encourage a more collaborative approach from the outset.  Creative group reading allows the Director to hear the words which may influence their final decision.

 

Here are some things to consider 

 

  • If you are looking at a full length play, don’t be too ambitious aim to read no more than 2 in one session
  • Don’t wait until the end of the whole play for discussion, build it in at least at the end of each act and don’t be afraid to stop and start if something happens which you feel could do with some immediate unpacking
  • Keep things light-hearted – swap parts, enjoy the journey through the play rather than just getting to the end
  • What do you want out of the session – are you anticipating making a decision or will it feed into a longer process
  • Will you circulate copies of the play in advance or do you want people to sight read?  If circulating in advance instruct everyone to remain open-minded, plays are meant to be heard and advance reading is part of the process not the place to make decisions
  • Make sure everyone is comfortable with sight reading.  It can fill some people with dread and they should not be made to do this
  • Do you want to include any kind of voting system?
  • How much do you want the readers to ‘act’ – acting can sometimes be a hindrance at this stage but it pays to be clear with everyone.  Not acting doesn’t mean monotone or boring!

Some useful questions for discussion

 

  • Why this play and why now?
  • Can you cast it, the group may come up with some imaginative ideas about casting that the director hasn’t considered?
  • Can you stage it – what would the challenges be and is it possible for your club?
  • Can you afford it?
  • Will you be able to get an audience for it?

Related resources

SCDA resources

SCDA Library

You can access copies of many plays in the library.  You can often also find full sets of plays.  If you can’t find what you are looking for why not take advantage of the script discounts available to SCDA members.

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Playlist

Youtube Video

Join Associate Producer at Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Amanda Watkins, as she gives an inside look at how to approach reading a play.  Although this isn’t discussing group read throughs, there are some really valuable tips for readers and Directors,

 

Youtube Video

Hear from some Directors and Lecturers talking about what influences their choice of play.

 

 

Additional Reading

Website

Stage Agent Blog

Find out what professional director Avital Shira takes into account when looking for a play

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