Friday saw the reading of Mark Sand’s new play ‘Cracked’ take place in the studio of the Soho Theatre which I had the pleasure of directing. The cast gave excellent performances, particularly considering the short amount of time we had to work on the script, and the feedback on both the reading and the play itself was very good. Mark was very happy, but… There’s no escaping the fact that I do not like readings of plays. A reading is just a reading, not a performance.
Though I find fully staged readings e.g. the reading of The Fever I directed late last year at the People Show just about bear-able (The Fever had the advantage that it was written to be read), I do not like to see actors wandering around with scripts in their hands on stage (the only performers in The Fever reading from a script were seated).
Plays are written to be performed, plays need to be performed.
This is not a complaint (ok it is – but a qualified one), I was very happy to direct the reading for Mark, it allowed him to see the play on the move, and generate feedback that will lead to a further draft and (hopefully) a full production in the future. It’s certainly not a reflection of a lack of enjoyment on my part. On the contrary I had a whale of a time, doing what I enjoy most i.e. working with a group of performers on a play, with the added advantage of having the writer in the room. It’s just that deep down inside I can’t help but feel that somehow we have all been short-changed – the actors who didn’t get the chance to really inhabit the characters through the rehearsal process and performance, Mark who still hasn’t seen his play in all its glory, the audience who could not completely lose themselves in the drama, and myself who just wanted another three weeks to work on it so it could be performed sans scripts.
I’ll say it again – plays need to be performed.
Notwithstanding the above, if you are looking for someone to direct a reading, I am currently available…