Stage reading

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A stage reading is a form of theatre without sets or full costumes.[1] The actors, who read from scripts, may be seated, stand in fixed positions, or incorporate minimal stage movement.

A stage reading of a new play in development is an intermediate phase between a cold reading, with the cast usually sitting around a table, and a full production. A narrator may read stage directions aloud. The purpose is to gauge the effectiveness of the dialogue, pacing and flow, and other dramatic elements that the playwright or director may wish to adjust. Audience feedback contributes to the process.[2] In play-development workshopping, the stage reading is one of the forms of workshop, along with the rehearsed reading, the exploratory workshop, and the full workshop production.[3] It is an inexpensive way to get a new play in front of an audience.[4]

Stage readings that include members of Actors' Equity in the cast are governed by that union's Stage Reading Guidelines.


A screenplay in development that relies to a significant degree on dialogue rather than action may sometimes be given a stage reading, as a way to attract potential investors or to rehearse. As a form of public performance, the stage reading of a film script is like performing a radio play before a live audience, with emphasis on the use of imagination and on voice acting, which might require theatre actors and voice-over artists.[5]

Reader's theatre[edit]

Reader's theatre is the stage reading of a fully developed or classic play, when the reading is itself the performance.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mark W. Travis, The Director's Journey (Michael Wiese Productions, 1997), p. 72.
  2. ^ Chuck Sambuchino, 2009 Screenwriter's and Playwright's Market (Writer's Digest Books, 2008), n.p.; Terry McCabe, Mis-Directing the Play: An Argument against Contemporary Theatre (I.R. Dee, 2001), p. 94; Laura Annawyn Shamas, Playwriting for Theater, Film, and Television (Betterway Publications, 1991), p. 110; Alex Epstein, Crafty Screenwriting: Writing Movies That Get Made (Henry Holt, 2002), p. 199.
  3. ^ David Kahn and Donna Breed, Scriptwork: A Director's Approach to New Play Development (Southern Illinois University, 1995), p.79.
  4. ^ Lenore DeKoven, Changing Direction: A Practical Approach to Directing Actors in Film and Theatre (Elsevier, 2006), p. 167.
  5. ^ Cathy Haase, Acting for Film (Allworth Press, 2003), pp. 142–145; Epstein, Crafty Screenwriting, p. 200.
  6. ^ Ellen McIntyre, Nancy Hulan, and Vicky Layne, Reading Instruction for Diverse Classrooms (Guilford Press, 2011), p. 108.