OLD PUEBLO PLAYWRIGHTS PLAY READING GUIDELINES

(please read this before submitting a work to be read or participating in a feedback discussion)

General information:

  • Old Pueblo Playwrights is a development organization for playwrights. That is to say, OPP’s main intent is to refine and improve plays through readings and feedback.
  • OPP may, at times, also have workshops and special programs focusing on other aspects of the writing process. However, it is not a producing organization and neither produces nor performs full productions of any works.
  • Both plays and screenplays are accepted for readings, although preference is given to plays.
  • In general, Old Pueblo Playwrights offers three different kinds of readings:
  • Seated Reading: This is simply a reading performed at the regular Monday night meetings with all the participants sitting down around the table, followed by a feedback discussion. Plays being read for the first time are always given a Seated Reading.
  • Semi-Staged Reading: Plays which have been given at least one Seated Reading can have a Semi-Staged Reading, if the playwright desires one, at the regular Monday night meetings. In these, the actors may move about and perform basic blocking, but should still have scripts in hand and should not use props or set pieces. Again, this is followed by a feedback discussion.
  • Festival Reading: A play which has had two or more readings of any kind at the regular Monday night meetings may be submitted for consideration as a festival play (submissions are made immediately after a reading, and festival status is determined by a vote of the paying members – four minimum – present at the time of submission.) Festival readings are fully staged readings; that is to say, they are script-in-hand readings in front of an audience, with full blocking, props, and minimal representational sets. They are followed by a feedback discussion with the audience.

Scheduling your play for a reading:

  • If you have never had a play read by OPP before, you may be asked to submit your first proposed work to the board for perusal before it is scheduled for a first reading. This request is entirely at the discretion of the board.
  • Plays may be scheduled for a reading on any currently open Monday evening. Scheduling is done through the Old Pueblo Playwrights’ Secretary.
  • As the annual festival approaches (usually in midwinter), repeat readings for festival consideration may be given priority over first readings. Also, at that time of year, space fills up rapidly, so it is wise to schedule any readings well in advance.
  • Please do not schedule a play for a second reading unless significant changes have been made to it since the first reading.

Casting and rehearsing your play:

  • Casting the play for a Monday night reading, and, if necessary, finding a director for it, are entirely the responsibility of the playwright. However, the other members of OPP can point you towards many helpful resources if you are having trouble or unsure how to go about it.
  • For a Seated Reading with a small to medium cast size, it is usually possible to simply cast the play out of whatever OPP members happen to be present at the reading. However, it is often wiser to cast a larger cast Seated Reading in advance. Directors and rehearsals are usually unnecessary for Seated Readings, although they are permitted.
  • For a Seated Reading, someone should be assigned to read stage directions.
  • A Semi-Staged Reading should usually be cast in advance, and having a director and one or two rehearsals is advisable, although not required.
  • It is sometimes helpful to have someone reading selected stage directions for a Semi-Staged Reading in order to explain action which may be obscure through lack of props or staging, but it is optional.
  • For a Festival Reading, playwrights must find a director in advance. However, for the Festival, there is an actual audition process for all Festival plays, so finding a cast is a bit easier. This audition process is a little complicated, and will be explained at the time of the Festival rather than here. There is also a set rehearsal period for the Festival, although individual rehearsals will be scheduled by each play’s director. Again, this will be explained fully at the time.
  • Festival Readings should not have a stage-direction reader.
  • For any reading, playwrights should not play any part, nor should they read stage directions.
  • All parts in any play must be cast before the reading begins. Assigning parts while a reading is in progress is difficult.
  • Please bring enough copies of your play to accommodate all of the actors. One script per actor, plus one for the stage direction reader, is preferred.
  • Double-casting roles is permitted, and entirely at the discretion of the playwright.

Feedback Discussion:

  • After every reading, there will be a discussion of the play. Anyone who read in the play or listened to the reading is welcome to participate.
  • Before the discussion begins, the playwright should pick one person to be the facilitator. It is usually wisest to pick someone who has been to at least a few meetings.
  • The facilitator’s job is to guide the discussion. The duties of the facilitator include posing specific questions to the audience or actors, preventing the discussion from dissolving into tangents or repetition, and keeping one person or small group from dominating the discussion.
  • While the facilitator is guiding the meeting, all questions and comments should be directed to the facilitator, NOT to the playwright. The playwright should also refrain from making any comments, questions, or explanations during this period; for the first part of the discussion, at least, they should just listen to what people have to say.
  • Participants in the discussion are encouraged to talk about any part of the play they either liked or disliked, and why, in as much detail as they want. Any aspect of drama, whether artistic or technical, is fair game for comment. However, at this point in the discussion, we ask that people refrain from suggesting specific changes to the plot or intent of the play (you may hear this referred to as “rewriting”.) This is because the first part of the discussion is really meant to be about the play as it is written, rather than as a somewhat different play. It’s a somewhat fine distinction that many people have trouble with – as an example, an acceptable comment might be, “I feel that the ending lacks drama; Maurice and Lenny just sit in silence, with nothing resolved,” whereas an unacceptable comment at this point might be, “I think that Maurice should shoot and kill Lenny at the end.”
  • Playwrights should bear in mind that this critique is the entire point of these meetings, and it is to be expected. We encourage people to be honest and not to pull punches in these discussions. Playwrights may find it helpful to remember that a critique of your play is not a personal attack, and that often it is the plays with the most potential which provoke the most heated discussions.
  • On the other hand, participants should bear in mind that constructive criticism is the point of these meetings, and they should remain polite and to the point. Simply insulting the piece or making personal attacks on the author are not welcome.
  • When the general discussion seems to be completely over, the facilitator turns the remainder of the meeting over to the playwright, at which point the playwright can ask any further questions they wish or make comments. At this time, IF THE PLAYWRIGHT SO DESIRES, the playwright can request that the audience make suggestions for specific “rewrites”, or ask for more informal opinions, but the playwright is under no obligation to do so.

And that’s Da Process!