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The Playwrights Forum > General > Question & Answer > Need Advice on a Staged Reading

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Need Advice on a Staged Reading  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Wed Jun 8th, 2016 07:48 am
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Monty
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Mana: 
Hi all,
First, I'm new here, so hope I'm not breaking any forum laws :)
Second, could really use your advice. I've been writing for several years and finally--finally--got my first staged reading. I was super excited, but the director/producer still hasn't sent the money for travel and hotel accomodations (and these funds were promised weeks ago). I followed up once, but don't want to keep chasing them around ... and I feel like this might be a valuable insight into what it will be like to work with them (and am starting to question if I really want to). Any advice???
Third, since I'm strongly leaning toward backing out of the deal, I've started thinking about producing the reading myself ... Are there any books, sites / blogs that give some legitimate information on how to do this (especially raising money)?
Thanks for reading!

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 Posted: Thu Jun 9th, 2016 03:09 pm
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Paul Thain
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Mana: 
Welcome!

Most staged readings pay zero and are mostly to help the author see if their play "works"

And how it can be improved via feedback from actors and audience

My advice would be to smile, listen and learn

And if expenses come along, be grateful ...

best wishes

Paul

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 Posted: Fri Jun 10th, 2016 05:05 am
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in media res
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Mana: 
I somewhat disagree with Paul.

If they promised money, they should pay you.

But, he is ABSOLUTELY CORRECT that readings normally do NOT pay a dime.
(However, I have always paid my actors. Not a lot, but 20 bucks a piece and more sometimes. And then I pay for the drinks afterwards. (When I was younger I just paid for the drinks afterwards!)

You can be polite about reminding the theatre, however. But, no reason to get upset.

If you have never produced a reading, it may be difficult for you. I don't know what your experience is, so I will leave it at that. You will have to judge.

Many writers have a coterie of actors they can call upon. If you don't, you may get the WORST reading than you could ever imagine. Again, I do not know your experience, so I can not say more on that.

Good actors can usually make a reading good. Great actors can usually make a reading great. But, it usually requires a rehearsal with a good director, especialy with the person who is reading Stage Directions. The person reading stage directions is the most important person in the reading. He/She must get the tone of the moment and by the use of their voice and tone transition it to the next moment.

Do you have actors you know who could pull it off? IF SO, BY ALL MEANS DO IT ON YOUR OWN, once the other has fallen through, or even if it happened and it WAS a wonderful reading.

See what works in each. AND REMEMBER, THE PERSON READING ANY STAGE DIRECTIONS WILL BE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT ACTOR! They must be the radio announcer calling a good Baseball/Basketball game on the radio. (I love to listen to The Chicago Black Hawks Hockey on the radio. I can "see" it better than on TV. That is how great the announcers are.)

BUT BUT BUT...give the other people time who promised you the reading. Most people are lazy when it comes to these things. Why, I don't know. But that has been my experience. Patience is all.

Also, if you can not make it, you could have them videotape the reading for you. I have had this done and it has proved to be a good idea, when I could not attend when it is out of State. One camera set-up is all you need, with really good sound.

If they Fuck it up, you will have learned something...and then...you can do your own reading! But if they do a good job, you will have learned something and you can still do your own reading! Win/Win.

Give them a shot. Let it succeed or fall apart on their end first. No one will ever know they screwed up. And THEN...the good upshot is...YOU get to do your Own reading!!!

And if they Videotape/DVD it when you are not there, make sure they also record any comments from the audience. They are extremely important whether you like the comments or not. I have learned the most from the comments that have pissed me off the most.

I have always found - whether the play was mine or somene's else - a great reading is as good as a great production.

Best of luck.

Please let us know how it goes.

Best,

IMR

Chicago Dramatists Workshop and it's deep pool of actors is especially brilliant at this sort of thing. Actors Equity requires a minimum payment to the actors, and they have allowed rehearsal time beforehand. It is consistently the best ticket in Chicago in their Saturday Series. I've participated as an actor and a writer and just attended when I was not involved.

Russ Tutterow...its founder...was a true committed gift/blessing to playwrights.
He was taken from us way too soon.

Hope it goes well. And most of all...have a good time.

Let us know what happens.

Best,

IMR

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 Posted: Fri Jun 10th, 2016 01:06 pm
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Paul Thain
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Mana: 
Yes, I do agree with IMR that a deal's a deal and should be honoured

But I wouldn't make it a deal breaker

Hope it goes well and I'm sure we'd be all be interested in sharing your experience when you're ready ...

p

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