One of my personal favorite moments of acting is during a staged script reading. Several years ago, these staged readings were uncommon in the film industry; however, staged script readings are growing in popularity and it is becoming an excellent way to build hype around an upcoming film as members of the press and industry professionals may come and watch the actors actually read through the script on stage with minimal props.
Staged script readings occur on a stage, and the actors read through the script while simultaneously performing the actions as a means of rehearsal.
Isn’t a Staged Script Reading a Theatrical Performance?
Well, yes and no. True, the actors are on a stage in front of a (small) audience, but the actors are not expected to memorize their lines or give full-body performances. Staged script readings are closer to a radio performance than a theatrical stage performance.
One of the coolest aspects of a staged script reading is it gives the audience an opportunity to use their imaginations to create the “film” while the actors simply provide the audio track and minimal visual stimulation.
How is it Set Up?
Staged script readings are typically set up in a small theater, or a black box theater, and the actors are seated in a line. Each actor has a binder with his script, and to establish the scenes there is a narrator that reads the slug lines and copy blocks of each scene. The narrator also reads the actions of the characters for the audience.
Typically, there is no movement on the actor’s part, which is a wonderful experience as it means you can fully explore the vocal range of your character and delve deep into the vocal emotions of this “person.”
How Should I Act?
Typically, you will receive your script at least a week before the staged reading. You may have a script already, but this version will likely include revisions. You are not expected to memorize your lines, but are expected to act out the scene through your voice. Thus, read through the script as many times as you can to become familiar with your character and the emotional intensity of each scene.
You will likely have a read-through rehearsal several hours before the performance.
While actually performing, remember to pace yourself. Many actors have a tendency to read fast when performing this type of rehearsal. Take it slow, and if you have trouble pacing yourself, mark your script for pauses.
Don’t be afraid to take chances and step outside of the box. Focus all of your energy into your character and use your imagination to paint its world around you while performing.