THE WOMEN'S PROJECT AND THE READ-AROUND by Barbara Biddison
The most recent happening for HGWP took place in the Warehouse Gallery with 10 women and one man seated at tables placed in a sorta-square circle. We read three short plays to each other. We call that kind of exercise a read-around. It is a non-threatening way to get a group of people familiar with or entertained by short plays and/or funny or serious dramatic bits. This time we were reading three short plays that will be produced by Women's Project under the broad title of Holiday Shorts & Sweets.
It's one thing to read a play (whatever its length or mood)) to yourself and it's quite another to hear it read aloud. For one thing, it may not seem very funny when read silently, but when read aloud with listeners' laughter we may be hee-hawing right along with everyone. And if the writers are amongst the audience non-writers, there's another whole benefit. Expectations may change. Changes may happen. Things that weren't intended to be funny may be tweaked. Characters may come across "wrong." Drama may be more emotionally involving than intended. And so forth.
So on to specific observations (in two of the to-be-produced short plays) that came to me as I listened.
"The I-Hate-the-Holodays Support Group'' (Judith Sornberger) reads well to one's self and even better when read aloud. There are 6 characters (two of them are male) and the four females have different characteristics as well as ages from 20-30 to 60-70. As I listened I
realized how important it is for actors to help the audience keep track of who's who during a really short play. The lines for each reveal "who they are" but the read-around helped the listeners add to characters identity. Therein lies the drama and the Humor!!!! We have to remember who's who.
"The Christmas Tamalada" (Yolie Canales) turns out to be one very very traditional Christmas preparation with lots of laughs. The three older sisters in their 60s gather at one home to make tamales. A daughter (30s) and a son (20s) show up and the preparation of this once-a-year event begins. There are a lot of memories and laughs and general family talk throughout. This play really comes to life as it gets off the page and onto the stage. It is funny and loud, and it's clear that the dialogue needs to be overlapping lines with really happy good humor..
All this comes about for me just by sitting there in a read-around. Nobody got up out of a chair while reading. Readers simply brought the plays to life for us. A fine two hours for read-arounds.
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