We had the first of two rehearsals for our two upcoming readings last night and I can't tell you how anxious I was to hear the play. Many years ago, I used to curate the two seperate reading series that EWP used to do, and I was always a big fan of 'em, as the people I used to spam incessantly can attest. I've talked to more than one person who liked readings sometimes more than the eventual productions, and I have to admit, I'll say that easily more than 50% of the time I've heard or participated in staged or unstaged readings, I've ended up liking them better than the full productions. I think it's the PURITY of them: Just the actors and the words. The essence of a story. A friend of mine tonight said that she liked readings because "it's like being read to."
And of course...that's exactly what it is...with the added plus that you're being read to by artists.
Anyway, as a theater administrator, I understood the utility of readings...in the abstract. They're for development, right? As a writer...I can't tell you what an absolute necessity they are. We've done a couple of informal readings in our living rooms to hear this play, and they've been invaluable. But there's nothing like the reality that this sucker's going to be heard - both for the actors and the writer - to focus everyone involved, especially (maybe) the writer.
Alone, for months, you tinker. You think of the things people have said to you, you add this, subtract that, move this to another place, and you fool around with it. It's all very necessary - you need to doodle, and because text takes up so little space on your computer, you can doodle into infinity. But you really can't, because pretty soon, the whole thing becomes abstract because you've been doodling for months and pretty soon, the thing looks more like a mathematical equation than a story.
And me? I suck at math.
So, if you're extremely lucky, like we are, you know a lot of really talented artists, and you ask them to do a reading, and they agree, and you rehearse, and with really smart and talented artists, you can see what works, and what doesn't, fairly quickly. Some things, the jury's out on: Actors have to find it, the director has to find it, the audience is going to be the final ingredient that will either make the recipe work or not, so there's some stuff that you'll have to wait on. But there's plenty of stuff that you can see: That's on me. That one, I've gotta fix.
I've got a dream cast, I've got my favorite director, I've got my friends. We're on our way. Hope to see you this Sunday.