Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sharing Your Script For The First Time: Part 2

Continuing our discussion...

Once you've located your initial readers and they've agreed to the task, expect to wait a while before hearing from them.  For most people, reading a first draft of a friend's play is a big order.  They'll take this very seriously and wait until they can clear a morning or afternoon or evening for the task--something that, for almost all of us, takes time to pull off.

Once they've read your play, set up separate, one-on-one sessions with each of them.  The last thing you want is for them to hear each other's reactions as they're attempting to tell you their own.

While you're waiting for them to read the play, be thinking about the questions you'll ask.  For example, you’ll want to find out the following from your readers: 

                --How did the script work for them personally.   

                --What did it ultimately say to them? 

                --Can they identify a central character and describe his or her dominant need?

                -- Did they care about the people? 

                --Were there places they lost interest or thought the script sagged in its forward momentum?                        

The questions should always focus on what they got out of the script they read.  Never formulate questions that identify any problems you're having with the script.  Playwright Marsha Norman suggests, for example, that if you're having difficulty with the end of your first act, ask them "How did you feel at the end of the first act?" and don't let on that you're not sure about it.  Just get their impressions.  This kind of "pure" feedback is always the most valuable. 
The point here is to keep in control of the discussion throughout by asking all the questions yourself and never allowing the readers to question you.  Develop the skill of turning every question directed at you back at them.  When they ask you what you meant by something, simply say that what's important are their impressions.  Ask them what they thought it meant.  Don't let them trap you into explaining what you were after or worse, force you to start defending what you've written.  That's a waste of everyone's time.  You know what you intended, so your job is just to listen to what they got out of the script.  This is the only feedback that will help you assess what's working and what isn't.

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