Thursday, April 14, 2011


We had a reading of THE GREAT IMMENSITY on Monday, and it went great! We had a good, responsive crowd - and to those of you who filled out the surveys: thank you!

I was talking to one of my friends about it, and he asked me what a reading is. It's likely that most of you reading this will know the answer to this question having acted in, produced, directed, or written a script that had a public reading, but it's actually a good question. A reading is a presentation for either a small group of friends or an audience where actors read the script aloud, usually with minimal movement and without costumes or lighting cues (of course the lights are on and actors wear clothes, though!). 

The Actors Equity Association (the union for actors) has a set of guidelines for what makes a staged reading that can be found HERE, and they give you information like the maximum number of hours of rehearsal (15), how many public presentations you can show (up to 3) and, perhaps the most defining features: "9) Book in hand, no memorization, only minimum staging with no choreography permitted."

So what is a workshop? The term is one of the "Fungible Terms" pinpointed and defined by David Dower in his essay "The Gates of Opportunity" for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. He says the term "workshop" can be used to describe:

 "- Anything more than a five-hour rehearsal process for a reading.
 - The pre-production sketch of a new play—sometimes fully staged, sometimes fully memorized, sometimes involving design collaborations and tech. 
- A period of anywhere from two to three weeks in a room with actors to create a devised text, culminating in a reading.
- A multi-week process that involves designers.
- A low-budget premiere of a play.  Tickets are sold, press is invited to review the work, and the process involves a full rehearsal period and full complement of design elements.
- The interaction between the artist and the community—workshops are skill building opportunities led by the artist 'in residence' or a period of 'development.'"

So why would you want to see this stuff? Well, it's fun to be able to see a show grow, and can give you insight into how the artists are working. Plus it's a great way to support the arts - these are crucial events for artists to learn about how an audience reacts to a show. They get invaluable information about where laughs fall (or don't), pacing, and how the show as a whole sounds. You wouldn't publish a novel without asking your friends, mom, editor, etc. to read it first, and this is how to get an inside look at the theatrical creative process!

Hope that helps! Tune in next time, when we'll talk about the 29-hour reading...

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