Hearing Playwrights Read Their Own Work

I’ll admit it. I wasn’t sure how it was gonna work out, this whole “each playwright reads their entire two-and-a-half hour epic by themselves in one sitting” thing. It’s the highlight of the Bay Area Playwrights Festival retreat that I just got back from. But driving there, I was worried about sitting through it, and I was worried about how I’d do when it was my turn to read. Don’t playwrights become playwrights because they’re uncomfortable in front of a crowd? Wouldn’t we be hearing mumbling and monotones for three endless days?

Answer: No. It was magical, moving, and other “m” words. It brought back the feeling of being read to as a kid, or being read to by a shaman around the fire (assuming you’re a thousand years old). A couple of the directors told me that it allowed them to see the play in a new way. They had already read the play they were directing, obviously, but hearing it read by the writer let them see nuances and rhythms they hadn’t caught yet.

Maybe all rehearsal processes should start this way, rather than with a cold table read by the actors. Do you think?

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