Writer's guide to Read-throughs

First of all, congratulations on getting to this point in the development of your play! We're looking forward to your upcoming read-through, and we wanted to give you some information about how the afternoon 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 read-through playwrights, email the producing at rod@playwrightscentersf.org.

What We Do For You

We're here to make your read-through as successful and useful to you as possible.

PCSF is responsible for the following:

  • We hire 4 actors from the PCSF actors pool. They are not specifically cast for your reading.

  • 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.

Playwright Responsibilities

PCSF also hopes that you will put some time and energy into making the most out of this staged rehearsal opportunity. The following are your responsibilities as a selected playwright.

Playwrights must be able to attend their read-through in order to see their scene and listen to the feedback session afterwards.

  • To be eligible for a read-through, you must commit to attending at least two other read-throughs.

Be respectful and appreciative to the producer and the actors.

  • Keep in mind that producers and actors are not paid much for the time and effort put into your read-through, so please make every effort to be respectful and appreciative to your producer and cast.

Playwrights are responsible for providing the webmaster with a blurb.

  • In order to help PCSF promote your reading to the PCSF membership, send a 25-words-or-less blurb, along with your name and the title of your play to the PCSF Webmaster at webmaster@playwrightscentersf.org.

Playwrights are responsible for providing the cast with copies of your script.

  • Provide printed copies of the full script to the cast on the day of the reading. The playwright is encouraged to consider feedback from the Literary Committee and, if appropriate, incorporate it into your play.

There is no additional rehearsal prior to the staged rehearsal.

  • Actors will receive the script at the read-through.

  • You will have limited time to advise the actors on things they need to know in order to give a good cold reading of your play, but there will not be time for rehearsals.

Playwrights must allow for PCSF's cast limit of four actors.

  • The Playwright's Center is budgeted to pay for only up to four actors per staged rehearsal.

  • Actors are paid $10 per reading by PCSF.

  • You need to provide a doubling scheme that will allow casting with four actors. Where this is not feasible, or for stage directions, you can ask for volunteer playwrights from the audience. However, it is expected you will assign the four main roles, if there are more than four roles, to the paid actors, even if this means casting against gender, etc.

Playwrights must create and print a synopsis and scene-by-scene summary for the audience.

  • Provide a play synopsis for the audience, which will provide some context to what the audience will be watching and help make the Q&A more valuable.

  • Provide a scene-by-scene summary for the cast.

  • You may also add questions for audience feedback. Make these 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.

Playwrights are requested to bring refreshments to their reading.

  • It is a good idea to provide some light refreshments for the staged rehearsal.  It relaxes and welcomes your audience.

  • Refreshments can be as simple as cheese and crackers or a vegetable tray or cookies or samosas. Include some simple beverage choices, wine and sparkling water for example.  If you want to get creative, you can tie the refreshments to a theme in your play.

The Limits

  • Playwrights are not allowed to read their own work or explain the play to the audience.

The Feedback Session

  • The Facilitator will introduce your rehearsal and lead an audience feedback session with your cast immediately following the performance.

  • A valuable part of the rehearsal, the session allows you to receive comments and insights from the audience and gives you a chance to have some questions answered about your scene.

The Payoff

The opportunity to discover what works and what doesn't; a chance to see how actors work with a play, interpret it, build on it. It's a way to get a fresh perspective on your work and get creatively re-energized. A read-through is intended to launch you into your next re-write. 

Updated 3/2011