Reading Plays

As I was compelled to rid myself of a large number of dramatic works in my personal library, I resolved to read more theater this year which, for the most part, is something I’ve actually found really enriching. But I have just the damnedest1 time really reading plays. It’s easy for me to watch plays, and to act in plays, and to think through plays from the standpoint of, say, direction. But I’ve never actually figured out what it would feel like to read a play for pleasure.

Like, ideally, what is reading a play supposed to feel like? Is it like you have a stage in your head and you’re just watching the action unfold? Does it feel like a radio drama? Does it feel like an actual viewer of the play, with attention following the action, or is it more like you take on the role of each actor in your mind? There’s so much weight you have to carry in order to read a play and get from it what you would by seeing it. You just have to wear so many hats.

I basically think that plays are not meant to be read, and it’s weird that we do read them. I’m curious if there’s much written on this but too lazy to pursue it any further than this right now.2

  1. Had to google the spelling on this one, guys. That’s how affected the use of “damnedest” is.
  2. Because thinking about reading plays is distracting me from reading plays. I’ll get to it someday.