Writer's guide to staged readings
First of all, congratulations on getting to this point
in the development of your play! We're looking forward to your upcoming
staged reading, and we wanted to give you some information about how
the evening will go, what your responsibilities are as a selected
playwright and how to get the most out of this opportunity. If you have
any questions about the following responsibilities and guidelines for
staged reading playwrights, email your producer.
What We Do For You
We're here to make your reading as successful and useful
to you as possible.
PCSF is responsible for the following:
- We find a director and we cast your play.
- We pay the director and the cast.
- We do some publicizing for your reading on our
website and in our newsletter.
- We manage the event.
- We facilitate the evening including the
post-performance feedback session.
PCSF also hopes that you will put some time and energy
into making the most out of this staged reading opportunity. The
following are your responsibilities
as a selected playwright. Failure to
follow these guidelines may prevent you from having another
reading produced by PCSF in the future.
Playwrights must be
able to attend their staged reading in order to see their play and
listen to the feedback session afterwards.
Once you have been
assigned a director for your staged reading, here are some initial
discussion points for you to talk about in person or on the phone:
- Because this staged reading is being produced by PCSF
to help you in the development of your play, it is imperative that you
are able to attend.
- Be sure to let your producing director know when
staged reading dates are assigned for the season if you are NOT able to
attend any of the available dates.
Be respectful and
appreciative to your director and the actors.
- Discuss where you are in the process of developing
your play, and what you hope to get out of the reading.
- Talk about any vision you may have for staging the
reading, which can be anywhere from a music-stand reading to a
fully-blocked performance. Keep in mind that while you may have input
into the staging of the reading, it is the director's job to stage it,
and his or her creative integrity should be respected.
- Playwrights are encouraged to attend and observe
rehearsals for their staged reading. You should also have a brief
discussion with your director about how you two will work together in
Attend the general
auditions and staged reading orientation with your director.
- Keep in mind that directors and actors are not paid
much for the time and effort put into your staged reading, so please
make every effort to be respectful and appreciative to your director
responsible for providing the director and the cast with copies of your
- Your producing director will organize general
auditions for all the directors and playwrights chosen for any PCSF
readings this season. A playwright/director orientation will
happen on the same day. It is important that you are able to attend to
get more information about how your reading will be produced, and to
give any casting suggestions to your director.
- It is ultimately the director's responsibility to
cast your play, but your feedback is appreciated.
responsible for paying for rehearsal space.
- Playwrights should provide printed copies of their
scripts to the director and cast on or before the first rehearsal.
Playwrights must pay for
any actors beyond PCSF's cast limit of six actors.
- Talk with your director about how many hours he or
she anticipates rehearsing your staged reading, (see rehearsal limits
below) and discuss how much you can afford and/or would prefer to pay
per hour for space rental before a rehearsal schedule is determined.
- $15-25/hour are typical rates for rehearsal venues
around the city.
- If you would like to have receipts for rented time
from venues where your director rehearses, then you should communicate
this to him or her prior to the space being booked. PCSF does not
require that directors provide receipts.
- It is the director's responsibility to schedule and
find the rehearsal space, but if he or she has trouble securing a
space, then it is fine if the playwright assists. Your director may
have a space already in mind before rehearsals begin. Either of you may
contact the producing director for suggestions if you're having trouble
finding rehearsal space.
- Reimburse your director for any rehearsal time on or
before the night of your reading whenever possible.
Playwrights should work to
publicize their own reading.
- The Playwright's Center is budgeted to pay for only
up to six actors per staged reading. We encourage double casting
- Actors are paid $20 per staged reading.
- It is the playwright's responsibility to pay for any
additional actors cast in your reading. Be sure to communicate with
your director before casting begins if you are willing to pay for
additional casting or not.
- Playwrights should pay PCSF directly for any
additional actors cast. You pay in cash or a check made out to PCSF.
This payment should be given to the producing director on or before the
night of your reading. PCSF will have individual checks cut for each
actor and the director to be given out the night of the reading.
Playwrights should create
and print the program for their staged reading.
- While PCSF does some printed publicity for the staged
reading series and on our website and through our e-newsletter, it is
the playwright's responsibility to publicize their own staged reading.
- PCSF will be producing postcards for the staged
reading series which you may also distribute.
- Tell your friends, coworkers, theatre professionals,
etc. Send out emails, evites, and make phone calls! The more people at
your reading, the higher the energy level and excitement, and the more
feedback you'll receive! Keep this in mind: ticket sales are solely
responsible for paying off the cost of your reading.
- Refer to the PCSF
Publicity Guidelines for further information on how to promote your
- In order to help PCSF promote your reading to the PCSF membership and the playgoing public, send a 50-words-or-less blurb and a 50-words-or-less playwriting bio, along with your name and the title of your play to the PCSF Webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Download the PCSF
Staged Reading Program Template, and fill in the appropriate information
for your staged reading (title, cast, director, venue, dates, etc).
- There is a section for you to personally thank anyone
who helped with your play and/or reading.
- You may also replace the questions that PCSF provides
for audience feedback with questions specific to your play. These
should be similar for the same as the questions you give your feedback
session facilitator (see Feedback Session below).
- Add your email address for audience members to email
further feedback to.
- In the interest of consistency, we ask that you not
deviate from the program template that PCSF provides.
- Print double sided copies and fold enough programs to
give out at the reading. About fifty programs is usually plenty. Give
the programs to the producing director when you arrive on the night of
your reading as they will serve as both tickets and programs for the
- PCSF requires no more than 12 hours of rehearsal for
a staged reading, and no less than 6.
- A good staged reading, capable of bringing your
language and vision to the stage, needs no more than 12 hours. Once you
go past this limit, you start adding production values and in-depth
character work that really aren't necessary for what this is - a simple
script-in-hand reading, where emphasis is on the written word, not so
much on the staging, and definitely not in costumes, props, or lights
which we don't use in staged readings.
- Actors should take direction only from the director.
You are free to take notes during the rehearsal process and share them
with the director privately during breaks or after rehearsal.
- Playwrights are not allowed to direct their own work.
It's important to let go and let your play take its first few tottering
steps on its own. Also, a director can often see things in your script
that you're likely to miss.
- Minor edits or rewrites are allowed leading up to or
during the rehearsal process, but playwrights must not add or remove characters after roles have been
cast. Avoid adding scenes to plays before the reading as this
can throw a wrench into rehearsals. Any potential rewrites should first
be communicated to and discussed with your director.
The Feedback Session
- A PCSF board member will introduce your reading and
lead an audience feedback session with your cast and director
immediately following the performance.
- A valuable part of the reading, the session allows
you to receive comments and insights from the audience and gives you a
chance to have some questions answered about your script.
- You will take the stage with your facilitator
following the curtain call, but we ask that during the feedback session
you remain a silent observer in order to fully digest all the comments
you will receive. We ask that you not explain or defend your play, but
listen to the responses and take notes.
- A facilitator will be assigned to your reading and
contact you a couple of weeks prior for your feedback questions that
are specific to your play.
- Remember to think about what you hope to learn about
your play from the reading as you write your questions.
- These questions or any additional ones may also be
added to your program template for audience consideration during the
- The facilitator will ask for your closing statement
at the end of the feedback session where you may thank your audience
for attending and briefly respond to anything that came up during the
Probably the greatest gift a staged reading offers a playwright is the
opportunity to discover what works and what doesn't. It can answer
questions you may have about your play and present new ones, as well.
It's a way to get a fresh perspective on your work and get creatively
re-energized. A staged reading is intended to launch you into your next
re-write; it is not, therefore, for those who feel that the play is
already "done" or "perfect." You may also use your staged reading as an
opportunity to showcase your play for any local theater companies
and/or directors who may be interested in producing your work. PCSF
hopes that this staged reading opportunity will help you take your play
to the next level. Be sure to put your Playwright's Center of San
Francisco staged reading on your resume and bio!
version of Writer's Guidelines