I found myself talking about this subject for several classes now. So I thought I’d talk about here. Advice for actors - Read a play a week. There are several reasons for this:
We need to understand the format of plays, as we are the ones who will bring life to words in a play. By reading plays we learn to “get inside” the material, the characters, the conflicts, and the drama. Only through the experience of reading them again and again and again can we get the feel of a play. I’m reminded of the time I saw two architects looking over plans of a new style house. I was amazed at how impassioned they were as they argued, debated, and discussed the issues. Their excitement was enviable. All I could see on the pages was a bunch a lines and drawings with the various colors of the walls written in black and white. They experienced the building, the landscape, the colors, they could see it, feel it. It was amazing. We, as actors must be able to get that feel and be able to translate the life from reading words on paper. NOTE: Don’t expect this to happen right away. It’s a new form and will take a while. You can even expect to not enjoy it at first.
It will help us to understand literature and know good writing. It’s important to be well versed in the theatre. By reading a play a week in one year you will have more experience in theater literature than many actors in this town. How impressive to be able to quote famous lines from plays and be able to have discussions about the great playwrights. Start immediately. The time will go very fast.
There will be a time when you will be working with other actors in classes or theatre groups and you will be seeking scenes for scene study, showcases, and productions. You will then have a library of knowledge of stories, plays, and characters that you will want to play, and will be able to recommend to your fellow actors. It’s a great compliment to hear or say, “You’d make a great Blanch in “Streetcar”. You will help yourself and your fellow actors.
In a year you will be surprised how much more you will know than most actors. It will build confidence and command respect. It will also be a great resource as you move ahead as an actor. If you’d like some variety or want to increase your purview, you can add screenplays and television scripts – teleplays.