I'm interested in getting people to read play scripts for enjoyment, just like novels. Any ideas on how to get people to tead Ibsen, Chekhov, Mamet, etc. just for the enjoyment of it? Wordprof
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Great idea! By "people," I take you mean any people from student to non-student. Reading plays is like reading poetry--a skill has to be learned. Eyes must adjust to finding meaning in different visual formats (may sound silly to some, but various parts of the brain are triggered for various tasks and kinds of tasks, so new tasks or unfamiliar tasks require the activation of new neuro pathways). Cognitive function needs to respond to new rhythms and patterns of ideas. Therefore--we learn to read plays the same way we learn to read poetry--through guidance from a kindly expert and practice practice practice. A play-reading group sounds like a jim dandy idea--meet weekly at Barnes and Noble?
Just like we get anyone to read something we love -- you need to talk it up! You need to talk about the plot line, or characterization, or theme and how it was so compelling that you couldn't resist recommending it. If people are readers in the first place, this might inspire them away from the novel for a dip into the theatre.
TV scripts would be great fun - some of the sit coms from years past would have most groups laughing too hard to read. One of the keys would be making the determination of how far you wanted to carry characterization and whether the readers were going to try to adhere to the characters as presented on TV or if they were going to use their own personalities or interpretations. Could lead to some great discussions of comparisons between the televised and the "reader's theater" interpretations!
Thank you all for jumping into this idea! When I was teaching, I found that building the mise-en-scene in the reader's mind was as challenging as building a set, costuming, lighting, etc. Also, I discovered that a good way to introduce speech act theory was by examining dialogue for the speaker's motive -- why does the character say that at that moment? Why does Hedda say exactly that right then? As for lightness of text, yes, so long as the text is sophisticated enough to deserve close scrutiny. Further discussion: what about tv texts or movie scripts?
I agree with other ideas posted above. Of course, the problem with plays is that they are not really meant to be read. Perhaps organising classes into small groups and challenging them to read through plays with each assuming a part might be the answer. I always try to act out any play that we study in class rather than just getting students to read it. It is so important to take the play from the page and put it on the stage, as my old lecturer in Education used to say!
I agree that your first texts would benefit from being lighter and more 'fun' in the first instance. Reading Willy Russell's Educating Rita aloud can be great fun, and Alan Ayckbourn plays are good to be read aloud with a group.
One possibility might be to organize a local play-reading group. I have participated in such groups to a limited degree, and they are often highly enjoyable. People sit around in someone's living room, or meet in some other suitable place, and read the plays aloud, with each person often performing multiple parts. Reading as part of a group can be a great form of social fun, and one group can spawn another, which can spawn another, etc. Reading plays aloud as part of a group can greatly enhance the understanding of a play and can sometimes be more valuable than private, individual reading.
Many of us are no doubt part of book groups, which have become quite popular in recent years. Perhaps you could market your idea as a "play group," which, while punny, would be a fitting name. I think it's a great idea, and now that you've mentioned it, I might suggest it for my own book group.
I have found that most students love to read plays aloud and/or act them out in class, but reading them on their own for pleasure may be more challenging. You may have more trouble with the authors you mentioned as well. I'd suggest some lighter works by less serious authors for a start.
I have four plays which I teach in my English III and English IV classes. I think the key is getting them hooked by showing the "fun" which can be found in a play. Many times, people think that plays are harder to read based on the form. Teach that this is not true.
Outside of that, find plays which speak to the interest of those who you wish to influence. Find something that will catch their attention and make plays something of importance to read.
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