Playwriting

The Journey of a Play: The Read Through

Lindsay is in development with a new script – Somewhere, Nowhere. Today she visits a school to hear the words read aloud for the very first time.

Transcript

Hello! Welcome to “The Journey of a Play”! And we are in the third part of this series, as we talked about script, and the next step, once it’s been written and gone over and second draft, third draft, gotta hear it. Have to hear it and see how the dialogue sounds.

So, we are right now at Lakewood Ranch High School, where the students here have just started – like, this week – rehearsing the play, and we’re going to hear a read-through. So, here’s what I’m looking for: I’m looking for how the dialogue comes out of the actors’ mouths – is it natural, are there words that they’re tripping over, are there consistent trip ups. I am looking for what the cast reaction is to some of the humor – there’s a lot of humor in this play and I want to see what the response is. I’m listening to the flow of the dialogue. I’m looking to see how long it is, in just the reading, and these little things are really going to help, again, solidify what the final product is going to be, and solidify when it actually gets on its feet and is acted. So, next up: Read through.

…wants me to go to hair-dresser school. Doesn’t your mom check up on you?

She checks up on the car.

Okay, so we just saw – we just heard the first one being read, and the first thing that I noticed is that I’m really excited about the way that Echo played out. I re-wrote her – she has an outburst, a final, a “I finally know what I want!” and I re-wrote that about five times. So that was my number one question about hearing that, is “Is that going to work?” And I think it’s going to work in spades. It worked really well in the readings, so I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it comes up.

Next is: I have another character named Miss Bright, who is very… she’s in a state of panic. And my one fear about the character was that it would be yelling from beginning to end. So I had this really big stage direction, which the actor followed to a T: Do not yell! Exclamation marks mean other things other than yelling, like intensity, and drama, and not just volume. And I think I just need another little thing to it, because she is in a state of panic, but she’s also in a state of heatstroke, so she’s a little bit insane, and I think just adding that touch to it is going to take the character in the direction I want it to go.

Tyler, who’s he? Tyler is the man, man, Tyler is the best, best, Tyler is the one, one, better than the rest, rest. Tyler, Tyler, go Tyler!

Tyler! Tyler, the man, the ult, love, how are you?

Just a thing, a moment, it came rushing at me like a tidal wave! Had it, leave, now. And I did. And maybe I would have gotten further with my “Had it, leave, now,” in the summer, or the spring, or even like fall. Impulses in the winter time do not carry the same drive when you’re walking in snow up to your armpits. Okay, not exactly my armpits. I’m not walking to school, uphill, in the snow, both ways, with bare feet, but it’s really, really, really, really really really close! I swear.

First of all, you guys all pick up cues really well, and that’s exactly what all the plays need, that snap back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and, instinctualy you do it very nicely, so keep that up.

Okay, so we just finished the read-through. I got kind of an approximate time on each of the one acts, and the first thing is, I think particularly, the second one, I want to cut three to five minutes, that’s the one that just… these kids were really good, instinctual reading, so I know that when things were being a bit clunky and just a little bit slow, that that’s the text, that’s not the kids – Students. And one thing, a couple of things, that were just really great, because the best thing when you hear people read your work for the first time is when actors, they sound exactly the way that you imagined the dialogue in your head – it’s absolutely the best feeling. The other thing, too, was the director told us that when she held auditions, that she had students who were clamoring for roles that weren’t the leads, that there were parts that are smaller that jumped out at them and they wanted to play those parts, and as a writer, that just makes me feel really great – it means the piece really spoke to the students, and that, above all, is something that is really important to me. It’s a fine line – our plays, they have to speak to both teachers and to students, and when I can do that, I know that I’ve been successful.

And so, I have some notes. That’s my main thing, I’m going to do a couple of cuts, but nothing really drastic. Now I want to see it on its feet, and see what happens when action is added in.

Alright, that’s it. Until next time on “The Journey of a Play.”

About the author

Craig Mason