Because I know a lot of playwrights, I often feel like I should be reading more plays. The problem is, I’m really bad at reading plays. I’ve tried to be good at it. I’ve tried really hard, but its not a skill of mine.
When I sit by myself and read a play I don’t understand what I’m reading 95% of the time. Or at least I don’t understand most of it. On reading comprehension tests in my undergrad I often got C’s and as an A student I couldn’t understand why I didn’t fully absorb what I was reading.
And these are not bad plays. In fact, some of these are GREAT plays. But even with great plays, it often isn’t as simple as sitting down and reading it and absorbing what was happening.
So I don’t do it. I don’t read plays often. I read plays when people tell me I should or when I hear about one and think that it sounds fantastic, but even then I finish the script and can’t help feeling like I’ve missed something.
A few weeks ago a friend asked me to read a play and tell her what I thought. I read it, but my email to her was as follows: ”I think I’m still unsure of it as a play. There’s something about it that never sits right. I wonder if it’s worth gathering some actor friends and doing a reading of it at some point – just for an opportunity to hear it out loud. Is that something you’d be interested in doing in the future?”
She liked the idea, so earlier tonight we gathered four of our actor friends in my living room and spent two hours reading the play out loud. In compensation for their time I baked some cookies. And then I got to hear the play. I still don’t think the play is a perfect script, but after hearing it out loud I was inclined to agree with my friend that it was something I wanted to see on stage.
I’d hate to have my play-deafness cause me to lose footing in a world full of new plays, so my question to you, actor friends, is how many of you would be interested in getting together once every month or two to read plays out loud? I’m happy to host and bake and read stage directions and bring brand new plays for us to read.