At the age of 17, I was in the process of moving from Illinois to St. Louis, and during this time I was also auditioning heavily for a variety of film and TV projects. Several days before making the move, I was called in to audition for a TV pilot, which would later go on to make two successful seasons. After auditioning for the leading role, and actually booking the job, I was sent my first script and a roundtable reading was scheduled for two weeks.
As you could imagine, I was beyond excited…and nervous. The butterflies in my stomach could of flew me clear across state, but luckily, I always wore steel-toed shoes. After arriving at the reading, I met my co-stars for the first time and began a process that would last nearly four years. I like to think that my comfort level was reached immediately upon arriving at the reading, but this wouldn’t be true. It was the actual roundtable reading that helped cultivate the foundation of my character as well as the relationships with my fellow actors.
A roundtable reading is designed to create a pressure-free zone where actors can meet and explore their characters without the pressure of a film set.
Who is Present?
While this answer can vary, a typical informal roundtable reading consists of the primary actors (day players or one-scene characters are typically not invited to this reading), the director, director of photography, wardrobe supervisor and the screenwriter.
What Ideal Protocol?
I get this question a lot from young actors who were cast in a film or TV production. The ideal protocol for the actor when it comes to a roundtable reading is to arrive on time (always bring a bottle of water), bring your script and have a pleasant demeanor.
After everyone arrives at the reading, the director will likely introduce himself, allow everyone to introduce themselves and then give an opening statement. At the end of this statement, the actual reading of the script takes place.
Hold all of your major questions for the end of the reading, as you will likely have more questions throughout the reading or your question may be answered by reading the script with your fellow actors.
Don’t worry too much about actually “performing” the scenes with full-emotion. Of course, don’t speak the dialogue in a monotone manner; rather, imagine the script being a storybook and you’re reading the story aloud for friends and family. Lastly, always bring a notebook with several pencils or pens as you will be taking a decent amount of notes during this process.