Director's guide to staged readings

Thank you for choosing to work with the Playwright's Center of San Francisco! As you know, the Playwright's Center's focus is in providing playwrights with an opportunity to not only see their play on its feet, but to experience firsthand the work that goes into getting that play from the page to the stage. Therefore we encourage the playwright and the director to work together, both before and during the rehearsal process.

Meeting with the playwright
Nuts & Bolts: Casting, rehearsal, payment, lighting, etc.
After the reading
Printable version of Director's Guide

The Meeting of the Minds

Your working relationship begins with an initial meeting or phone call between you and the playwright (which should be made within a few days of accepting the project), in which several things should be discussed:

  • Where the playwright is in the process of developing the play, and what they need or want out of the reading.
  • How to stage the reading, which can be anywhere on the spectrum from a music-stand reading to a fully blocked performance. The focus of the staging should always be in honoring the playwright's intent.
  • How you will work together in rehearsal. We strongly recommend that the actors involved take direction only from the director, not from the playwright. The playwright can give notes to the director, who can then pass it along to the actors if they choose to do so.

Nuts and Bolts

Copies of the script: The playwright should provide you with these either before or at the first rehearsal.

Rehearsal space: The playwright pays for the rehearsal space, but may need your help in finding one. The Producing Director can help here. You can also check Bay Area Spaces.

Casting: We prefer to cast as much as possible from our seasonal auditions, but feel free to work with people you know. Contact the Producing Director for help. We do not employ Equity actors.

Rehearsal: You should have between 6 and 12 hours of rehearsal time before your reading. Please don't rehearse over 12 hours; our focus is not on elaborate staging, but rather on hearing the playwright's written word. To this end, if the playwright goes home after rehearsal and rewrites a scene, please do your best to accommodate the new work - within reason, of course.

Programs: Please email a list of your actors (with their email addresses and phones numbers) to the playwright and the Producing Director as soon as you are cast, preferably at least two weeks before the reading.

Payment: You, the director, are paid $25 per reading and $50 extra for completing two readings in a season, and each member of the cast is paid $15. Checks are distributed after the reading.

The Light Board: We do not use stage lights for staged readings.

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After the reading

We have an audience-participatory discussion of the play after every reading. If you can, please stay for this discussion. As someone who will, at that point, be intimately familiar with the play, your input can be invaluable to the playwright. The focus of the feedback session is on the play itself, not the production values or the skill of the actors. Thanks once again for the energy, time and talent you're putting into the creation of this new play. And again, if you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact the Producing Director. We look forward to your reading!

Updated 10/22/2013

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