Tag Archives: actors

Table Reads – Screenwriter seeks Advice and Protocol

Fountain pen on writer

I have two screenplays (horror and sci–fi) I want to take to market. Before I do so, however, I want to make sure they are the best they can be. Part of my plan is to use table reads – the perfect opportunity to discover some unspeakable dialogue or clunky exposition. I want to record the read on audio.

I’ve never done a table read. So, what I’m looking for are the protocols / best practice:

1) I can’t pay anyone, so what should I offer as basics (food, drink etc.)?

2) Other than the usual registering of the scripts, are there any legal issues? Should I ask everyone participating to sign a waiver saying they have no legal claim on the table read performance and recording, and/or a NDA? Any examples of relevant pro formas that do the job without being intimidating?

3) Scripts – distributed as hard copies or as electronic copies? Should I expect actors to print out their scripts or print them for them?

4) How should I cast for the roles? Invite people to contact me, send them a script sample, and listen to them over the phone? (For a table read it’s the voice that counts, not the physical appearance of the actor.) Or is there a better way? Skype? Something else? What would you prefer? Should I post a list of roles and ask actors to ‘pitch’ for one or the other?

5) I think I should start the read by asking everyone present to give their name, the name of the character they are playing, and a one-line description of the character, starting with the leads. Good idea?

6) Should scripts be marked up in any way? Or will actors do that themselves?

7) Should I ‘direct’ the read? Stop the proceedings and ask an actor to read in a certain way? Or let it flow?

8) Pre-read briefing for all actors around the table (for tone, style, etc.). Good idea?

9) Anything else I’ve missed?

And now it gets weird. Anyone ever done a VIRTUAL table-read, with everyone sitting at home?

The reason I ask is because I live in the middle of nowhere, in a country where few speak English.

I’m therefore wondering if the technology would allow me to do a virtual table read, with actors from around the world sitting in the comfort of their own homes. Anyone ever done anything like that?

Any thoughts you have will be greatly appreciated. geoffholder1@mac.com

In which the author has a play at the Playwrights’ Studio ‘Stage to Page’ workshop…

On Monday 30 January one of my plays, ‘I Walked With A Zombie,’ will be workshopped at the ‘Stage to Page’ event in premier Glasgow venue The Arches.


‘I Walked With A Zombie’ centres around a group of art students making a short film in homage to classic zombie movies such as Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. But during the filming, all the participants are visited by their own personal zombies…


‘Stage to Page’ describes itself as “A chance for writers, actors and directors to collaborate by workshopping scenes from a new work together.” Each month, a guest director chooses scenes from an unperformed play, and actors turn up, are randomly allocated roles, and then collaborate in workshopping the scenes before performing them to everyone present.


The event is at The Arches, 253 Argyle Street, Glasgow G2 8DL (under Central Station). It starts at 7pm on Monday 30th and entrance for all is £3, which includes a drink (you can just turn up to observe the proceedings without participating, and many people do just that, to watch the creative process in action).


More info at www.thearches.co.uk/events/arts/stage-to-page. Stage to Page is an initiative of the Playwrights’ Studio, www.playwrightsstudio.co.uk/stagetopage.htm.


If you come along, I’ll be the zombie-like individual wearing the idiot grin.