I have now been part of two Readers’ Theatre Productions.
What’s a Readers’ Theatre? It is as it sounds. The actors have scripts in their hands and read the play aloud, using vocal inflections and limited movement to replicate the emotion of a dramatic production.
Or at least that’s how most Readers’ Theatres are described. Not ours. Last year we did “Pillow Talk” and this year “Arsenic & Old Lace”. But our production is not a bunch of stuffy people reading in front of microphones.
We like to go all out. Here’s a picture of our really cool set. We had the audience on two sides. You’ll notice the chairs in the background are actually on the actual stage, which we didn’t use. We set up the stage in the middle of our facility to make a close, intimate production.
We use costumes and props and the whole works. Whatever a normal dramatic production has, we have it also. The only part that is different is that my actors haven’t memorized their lines. They read them with script in hand.
Why would we do a Readers’ Theatre instead of a regular production? Most of my actors in this show had never acted before. Plus, there wasn’t sufficient time to memorize. And when that is the case, a readers’ theatre is an excellent alternative.
Actually, this entire show was student directed and produced. I was only the executive producer, receiving the fat pay check but doing all of the work. (BTW, the paycheck was me making chocolate cake and bringing it for the after party.
So in our show, the actors do everything they possibly can to fulfill the desires of the playwright – and they do it all with a script in their hands.
You might wonder if the audience is distracted by the script.
Actually, no. Once the story starts flowing, the script becomes just another prop. It fades into the background and is no longer noticed.
A readers’ theatre is an excellent alternative to a traditional theatrical performance. I recommend you give it a try. Last nights audience would concur. We filled all 145 of our seats and a good time was had by all.