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Staged Reading/Readers Theatre

Printed From: Community Theater Green Room
Category: Producing Theater
Forum Name: Directing
Forum Discription: For questions about handling shows, actors, crew, board members, children ...or do we repeat ourselves?
Printed Date: 6/19/18 at 9:33pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 8.05 -

Topic: Staged Reading/Readers Theatre
Posted By: imamember
Subject: Staged Reading/Readers Theatre
Date Posted: 8/21/08 at 2:33pm
Pretty soon I'l be directing my first staged reading. I have no clue how to do it other than get people in a line and have them read it!

I've only ever participated in one reading. I got the script, it was an original work. I read it at home, 3 days later we all met and read it together and a few notes were made, and the next day we did it for an invite only audience.

I'm sure there are ways to make it slightly more exciting right? I had heard a suggestion that whenever one character is addressing another, they should be physically addressing the audience.

My idea was to give out the scripts with some notes about the tone I'm looking for. Meet a week later to do a table read and to give character notes and then meet a week later to do it again before performance. Is that about right?

Any suggestions would be welcomed.

Posted By: tristanrobin
Date Posted: 8/22/08 at 10:05am
I have done several readers' theatre pieces - and they can be visually exciting.

My favorite technique is to use the audience as EVERY character in the play being addressed. If somebody offers a glass of wine to a character - offer it to the audience, as if that were the other character. It works well.

I often block certain portions of the play between a minimal number of characters. For these sections, the play is memorized, though the actors carry their scripts.

Make use of your lighting system!  Lighting shifts at dramatic or important moments can enhance your reading.  Long sequences between two characters can be done standing (or sitting) in a single spot light. The goal is to break up the monotony of looking at a line of people reading from a book.

I believe the very term 'staged' reading implies that it is more than just sitting on a stool and reading from a black bound copy of the script! And it IS meant to be 'theatrical' and engrossing. There is no reason for a staged reading to be simply a treatment one has to live through to get to the end! LOL

Posted By: imamember
Date Posted: 8/22/08 at 10:15am
Hmm...interesting. I can start to see it in my mind a little better now.

In the situation where someone offers a glass of wine, are you actually using a prop or miming? If you're using a prop, does the other actor first take it and then act like he's taking it from the audience or do you go 100% propless?

This will certainly increase the amount of rehearsal I thought it'd need.

Posted By: tristanrobin
Date Posted: 8/22/08 at 3:56pm
You might take a peek here at some photos of a staged reading I directed. It will give you an idea of the kind of thing I mean. Naturally, LOL, most of the photos are of movement, since 465 photos of three people lined up reading would be pretty boring LOL. Approximately 1/4 of the piece was fully staged...including a section that required a short tap dance, which was very very funny - but would have been a nothing moment if simply read as stage directions. You'll also notice sometimes they share the script, if it brings them a little closer together for moments that are more effective that way. -

remember: there are no rules for staged readings! it's all up to you and how much time and effort you want to put into it. you're only limited by where  you want to be limited! have fun!

Posted By: whitebat
Date Posted: 8/23/08 at 9:16pm
When we were in elementary school we did reader's theater (although not for an audience).  They acted out quite a bit of it, really.  So amusing to watch 3rd/4th graders try to act drunk (Hey, it was Shakespeare!).  One of the things I noticed speech team does for dramatic interp is: start with your head bowed, then raise your head, get into character, and speak your piece.  If you change characters, or your character leaves the scene, bow your head again, or turn away from the audience.  It makes it very clear when one actor plays several characters and looks professional to me.

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