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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Table of Contents
Forward by Anne Bogart
Lessons from the past
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?
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
French Scenes: List Version
French Scenes: Chart Version
Streetcar Punctuation Write Up
The Tempest Punctuation Write Up
List of Interviews
Biographies of Interviewees
"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