Welcome to this interaction on theatrical plays. At the outset let me clarify that there is nothing that can be championed as absolutely right or rejected outright as pertinently wrong, in the myriad of responses we have received for all the six questions posed. These are the individual points of view (PoV) of our friends and each PoV does count when settling for a comprehensive analysis, welcoming more discussion thereon.
The first question is rather a simple and straight one, at least that is what I thought when this impromptu questionnaire was constructed. Is script reading as a group exercise by the actors required at the commencement of the project?
I observe almost all friends who have responded consider this task of play reading as a must, though for various reasons attributed in their reckoning. Shalini says reading and discussing as a team ensures all are on the same page and helps in evolving the final output, the performance. Hema finds the group study helps her to connect effectively with the play which may or may not influence the way a character is to be enacted on the stage, as interpretation and delineation belong to a different group altogether than connecting which is visceral primarily. Ram observes script reading enables the participants to obtain a big picture, a holistic one rather at it which is crucial for the on-stage coordination as well as working together of on-stage and back-stage team members.
Natarajan observes these reading sessions provide an opportunity for the team as a whole to congregate and break the initial ice to bond well with each other. Karthik provides a slightly different observation that technically script reading is not required and once ‘the script is decided and the actors are convinced about the script’, we can proceed to blocking and other tasks down the line.
Did he say convincing the actors? Well, that brings us to the subject of obtaining team buy-in for the project.
Script reading or group study of the script is undertaken at a time when the project is at the nascent stage and has only the author and director aboard, and if lucky, the producer too joining them. The actors and back stage members though identified are yet to become stakeholders when the script reading is undertaken. As such, that many outsider views of the play upto the brass talk whether it can fly are freely available on one on one and group interactions basis as well as are passed around as discrete opinions. The author-director duo is provided with an opportunity to go through the offering and if required make a quick dash to the design table to address the incongruities or tweak the deliverables based on the inputs.
So, will it be fair enough to conclude script reading cannot and should not be skipped.
We shall take up the next question on creation of space in our next exchange. Cheers!