Reading Plays vs. Seeing Plays


Plays are taught in classrooms, performed, and read by many for their own leisure. Reading plays then seeing them, or vice versa, make for a different experience when it comes to theater.

Part One - The Boys in the Band

A few weeks after seeing Mart Crowley's play, I ordered a copy of it in order to experience it in a different way. Having already seen it, I could hear the lines in my head, and I found that it was fun read, while knowing what happened and allowed me to look at the play in a different way, and carefully see the choices made by Crowley in his writing.

Part Two - The Ferryman

I had the opposite experience with Jez Butterworth's play, reading it before seeing it. In this case, I found that I had a greater appreciation for the material being performed after reading it. The plot twists still took me by surprise, and I was able to appreciate the performances more. I also had a better understanding of what was happening then I may have if I went in blind.

So What's Better?

Reading a play gives you a greater understanding of what the playwright intended, while seeing it breathes life into stories that can often be very current and sometimes heartbreaking. Several centuries on we still read Shakespeare, and I have no doubt that many of today's plays will become new classics.

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