Did you know that we test drive stuff everyday? For example, since the beginning of time (or at least as much time allocated to a Pokemon game), we’re been on the lookout for Mr. Right or Ms. Right. However, many of these dates end up in failed tests in the form of Mr. Left or Ms. Left (and sometimes the perpendicular in between)? Note: You can always remain single and claim Independent status. Please see the play 45 Plays for 45 Presidents for more information.
We test drive cars. Techies test apps in development, test, and staging environments. Cosmetic aficionadas test perfumes and fragrances at mall fragrance booths (well, not all of us). And, finally, there is testing in the theatrical world. It’s called a reading. For my most recent experience, I was privileged to observe a reading of Going To See The Kid at the Bagshaw Mills rehearsal hall in Lowell. As I write these words, it’s 90 degrees outside but it shows you the advanced testing and hard work already under way since Going To See The Kid doesn’t open until November.
As background, a reading is a play written by a playwright which has made its way from his or her creation to the voices of actors/actresses themselves. At this point in the testing, there are no props to speak of. No scenery, no extravagant lighting or sound system to, possibly, illuminate the production. Just talented people – actors creating characters from the words of the playwright. Generally, the audience tends to be small for a reading (as was the case in Going To See The Kid). It can be in a rehearsal hall, a café, a living room. It includes people who have a stake in the play as well as friends and others. I fall in the others category which I feel is a good thing. It allows one to be objective to the work performed before them. To independently observe the characters in development. To fully listen to the words spoken without any obstruction or commotion. To steal a cliché from a past president (there’s that theme again), ask not what a test can do for you but what you can do for a test. In other words, it can only help the playwright for participants at a reading to provide him or her feedback. What works, what doesn’t, etc. This is the beauty of a reading (and source of frustration too) as constant revision is involved.
Lastly, one thing that I’ve observed in my experience as an outsider is the camaraderie and love of art amongst theatrical players at any level (e.g., from ticket sellers to administrative staff). Even at a reading, I was able to see firsthand the closeness of this MRT family which only translates to their continued success.
If given the opportunity, I highly recommend you experience a reading. Especially in a dramatic or comedic piece, it’s the power of the words that make it work. If not, you can always go on a test drive on your first date with a techie while driving to the mall to test out that new perfume or fragrance.
– Paul Galinis, Cohort