Some thoughts on Script Reading:
It is not necessary for the actor to have an academic or literary interest or analysis of the script. Scripts are not to be examined by scientists or philosophers: they are to be acted by actors. That’s their only real point and purpose. Academia and schooling have often killed a person’s natural interest in reading plays. The questions that one should ask when reading a play (known as Script Analysis) can be found after this section, but they are not academic. They are vital in providing the actor with an understanding of what is happening dramatically through the action of the play. Reading a script for the first time is an important time as you will never have that experience again. You should set time aside to read it when you will not be disturbed. You cannot undervalue or disrespect a play more than failing to give it the due attention on its first reading. Stanislavski in his third book on acting “Creating a Role” gives us a note on this important first reading:
“How many of us make serious preparation for the first reading of a play? We read it hurriedly, wherever we may be, in a railroad train, a cab, during intermissions, and we do it not so much because we want to come to know the play but because we want to imagine ourselves in some fat part. Under such circumstances we lose an important creative occasion- an irreparable loss, because later readings are deprived of the element of surprise”
How many times should you read the script? Countless times is the best answer, most actors won’t, even if they should and this is significantly flaws their own character and later their acting. If you are rushed or stretched for time before rehearsals commence, it’s best to read it as follows:
The First Read Through – Undisturbed, reading it all the way through in a quiet environment. Not so cosy that the senses are dulled. It needs to be read with the acting brain switched firmly on.
Technical Read Through - This time, as you read it through, make little notes in the script indicating words phrases, references etc. that you do not understand. Don’t be vain and foolish and ignore them. They will come back to haunt and embarrass you if you don’t comprehend their meaning fully.
Learning Read Through -This time you should read the play through with a dictionary and the Internet to hand. As you reach each of the words, phrases look them up to ensure you understand their meaning.
My Part Read Through – Only read your parts of the play through. Use this to grasp the part your character plays in the story of the script.
Other POV Read Through – Read through noting all the things that are said by other characters, your own character or the playwright about the role you are playing.
Circumstantial Read Through - The final stage, used for gleaning the External Imaginary Circumstances and listing them for helpful use during rehearsals. The actor that does their preparation in advance of rehearsals has a head start.