1st Edition

Preparing for Rehearsal Approaching the Dramatic Text – One Step at a Time

By Chris Pickles Copyright 2025
    288 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    288 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    A resource for actors, directors, and writers (both professional and in training), this is a step-by-step, practical guidebook to the PRE-REHEARSAL analysis of a script. Its aim is to de-mystify and organise  the questions necessary to ask in order to prepare for a creative, imaginative and fruitful exploration of a dramatic text in the journey towards rehearsal.

    The language is unselfconsciously engaging and accessible; uncluttered by alienating academic vocabulary. It holds out a helping hand throughout the important and sometimes rather lonely time of preparation for rehearsal, a time of exploration usually spent without the reassuring guidance of a director or dramaturg. The volume takes the reader on a journey, chapter by chapter, from first reading of a script to arrival  in the rehearsal room or film studio for the first readthrough or day of shooting. The book maps out six investigations for the actor or director, and most importantly, the order in which those explorations should be tackled. This book also forms the basis of any core Text Analysis module for students studying on professional Acting, Theatre Arts, Scriptwriting, Media, and Film or Directing degrees at a University, College, or Conservatoire level.

    A professional director, actor and writer, this guide is also a result of Chris Pickles’ many years of experience not only in running workshops for theatre professionals, but also teaching Text Analysis to actors and directors in training.

    List of Figures




    INTRODUCTION: Why write this book?




    CHAPTER 1. The actor’s process (or lack of it).

    Don’t get ahead of yourself.

    The insecure actor – preparation.


    CHAPTER 2. Reading number 1: Let the play speak. Contacting the author.

    Why use Uncle Vanya?

    Respect for the author.


    CHAPTER 3. Research: Getting to know you.

    Context of the play.

    Have a point of view.  Right and wrong choices? What and where to research.


    CHAPTER 4. Reading number 2: What’s the story? The Essential Narrative Action.

    Part One. Bite size pieces. Units of physical action.

    Part Two. Assessing events. Headlining. Sequences without entrances or exits.


    CHAPTER 5. Reading number 3: The archaeology of the character.

    “Facts, facts, facts!”

    Who am I? When is it? Who and what surround me?

    Categories. The grey list.



    CHAPTER 6. Reading number 4: What’s my story? What is my character’s Essential Narrative Action?

    What do I do? My character’s physical actions in the play.

    Headlining. What if my character is not on stage?





    CHAPTER 7. Reading number 5: What is the driving psychological action? Getting beneath the skin.

    General thoughts about the character.

    Objectives. Obstacles. Given Circumstances.

    Objectives as Units of psychological action. Re-assessing the unit of action.

    What do I want? Why do I want it? How will I get it?


    CHAPTER 8. Reading number 6: What is my character’s immediate psychological action in the unit?

    Why do I do what I do?

    Does my character connect to the driving psychological action?

    Soliloquy – talking to yourself?

    Postscript. What next? Heading into rehearsal


    Some selected further reading




    Chris Pickles is a theatre director, writer, teacher, actor and producer.