1st Edition

How to Read a Play Script Analysis for Directors

By Damon Kiely Copyright 2016
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    How to Read a Play outlines the cruicial work required for a play before the first rehearsal, the first group reading or even the before the cast have met. Directors and dramaturgs must know how to analyze, understand and interpret a play or performance text if they hope to bring it to life on the stage.

    This book provides a broad range of tools and methods that can be used when reading a text, including:

    1. Lessons from the past. What can we learn from Aristotle, Stanislavsky, Meyerhold, Vakhtangov, Brecht and Harold Clurman? This section establishes the models and methods that underpin much of a director’s work today.
    2. A survey of current practices in Western theatre. A combination of research, interviews and observation of practical work addresses the main stages in understanding a play, such as getting to know characters, sharing ideas, mapping the action and grappling with language.
    3. A workbook, setting out twenty one ways of breaking down a play, from the general to the particular.

    Contributions, reflections and interjections from a host of successful directors make this the ideal starting point for anyone who wants to direct a play, or even devise one of their own. This wide range of different approaches, options and techniques allows each reader to create their own brand of play analysis.

    Forward by Anne Bogart



    Lessons from the past


    Konstantin Stanislavski

    Vsevolod Meyerhold

    Yevgeny Vakhtangov

    Bertolt Brecht

    Harold Clurman

    A Survey of Current Practices

    Digging into the Script on Your Own

    Reading the Play for the First Time

    Moving Past First Impressions

    Going beyond the Words on the Page

    Preparing for Design Meetings and Casting Sessions

    Sharing your Read on the Play

    Discovering the World of the Play

    Getting to Know the Characters

    Gearing up for Rehearsing with Actors

    Grasping the Given Circumstances

    Mapping the Action

    Grappling with the Language

    Reading a Play without a Script: Notes on Devising

    What do you start with?

    What are you analyzing?

    What is a play?

    Workbook Chapter

    The First Steps in Preparation

    Getting Ready to Talk to Designers

    Getting Ready to Cast the Play

    Getting Ready for Rehearsal

    Checking Your Handle on Structure

    A Final Gut Check


    Character Biographies

    French Scenes: List Version

    French Scenes: Chart Version

    Director Breakdown

    Moment Chain

    Streetcar Punctuation Write Up

    The Tempest Punctuation Write Up



    List of Interviews

    Biographies of Interviewees


    Kiely, Damon

    "Damon Kiely has written a book that is readable and helpful to everyone faced with the very particular challenges of reading plays. Clearly driven by his own curiosity, Kiely examines how talented theater professionals throughout history have found success and true gratification in reading scripts."

    - Anne Bogart