by Park Theatre

Yesterday I heard my new play read for the first time by four excellent actors: Rakie Ayola, Ruth Gibson, Judith Faultless and Laura Doddington.  Always an exciting moment: very exposing, but a huge thrill to see characters that you created out of nothing come to life.

Given that yesterday went so very well, I thought I'd share my top 5 tips for getting the most out of readthroughs as part of a writer's process (as distinct from rehearsed readings in front of an audience).

1. Arrange a closed reading when you feel the penultimate draft (definitely NOT the very first draft) is just about in sight. 

2. Choose actors who are as close as possible to the character you've written if there are specific insights you want from people of a certain age, race, background, etc.  This may seem obvious but in fact the next tip may be more crucial ...

3. Most good actors are highly intelligent, thoughtful and articulate people who read and see a lot of plays.  Make sure the ones you choose for your reading are all of these things - in spades.  Actors experienced with new writing and working with playwrights are especially valuable.

4. When someone asks you a question, it is often worth turning the question over to the whole group before you answer it yourself. Did everyone see that scene the same way?  What did others think you were trying to do/say?  You are there to pick their brains, not the other way round.

5. Provide sustenance.  If you have followed step number 3 then you are dealing with some very special people.  Genius needs fuel.

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