Reading Plays for School

Back in elementary school and high school (primary and secondary), whenever we would read a play, we would read it aloud and act it out.

Last semester, when I started university, we read two plays, which our professor had playing on the screen for us. We would read along. Sometimes he would read each passage two us. The entire time we read the plays together. He said, “Plays are meant to be heard and seen, not just read.” He told us of the importance of acting out the play and explained that it was the only way one could be impacted by the play.

Even this semester, our professors tell us that the best way to understand a play is to read it aloud. They say that it is easier to hear the characters voice that way…however in our lectures and seminars we rarely read anything aloud. Why? Because everyone thinks that we students do not want to.

Yes there are people who loathe the idea of reading aloud in front of the class…especially if they have to act. However there are people who do enjoy it. So why not have those people perform a scene then have the rest of the students discuss it? It’s a win, win for everybody. We would all benefit, as the actors would be in character, therefore understanding the play that way and the audience would get an understanding of the play by watching it.

It’s so odd not actually reading anything aloud to one another or acting things out. My first year is practically over and though I’ve enjoyed all of my classes, I feel as though we should either have some sort of way to properly approach plays, or not even bother studying them. I mean, what’s the point of simply opening up a play and reading the dialogue? I’m almost positive that a lot of people pop it open and only read the dialogue. They don’t really care about the stage directions. Why do they matter if they’re not acting it out? It’s just extra reading to do, and when you’ve got 4 other books to read on top of that the play seems pointless.

If the play is interactive (as it was meant to be), then people take more interest in it and maybe I’m just being bias here but I think they enjoy it more.

You should not and cannot simply read the lines of a play. It has to be approached the way it was meant to be performed. If it isn’t done that way then there’s absolutely no point in reading it at all. It is impossible for people to completely understand a play by just skimming the dialogue.

Well, that’s my little rant for the day but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this? Feel free to answer one or all of those questions in your comments.

Do you agree or disagree? Are plays just a pain in the but to study period (whether performed or simply read)? What was your favourite play to study in school?

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