ABOUT OUR TABLE READS
Often in pre-production, film productions will hold a table read, which is an event in which actors will gather around a table and read the entire screenplay aloud together. This is a great opportunity for writers to hear their dialog read out loud by actors, a great chance to see acting chemistry between actors, and for productions to get a better feel for their film before production. What we do is practice practice and then practice some more.
Auditions are great but “Table Reads” are just as important. We practice with existing scripts and new scripts with directors, producers and screenwriters.
Directors/Producers and Scriptwriters will have access to our
list of table readers and they will be able to request to have our members sit in on actual table reads.
4 THINGS YOU MUST DO TO BECOME A ACTIVE MEMBER
Fill out the Talent Form
Sign up to be a member (free no hidden charge)
Make sure to submit a current headshot.
Participate in at least one “table read”. This will make your membership active and visible for “Directors/Producers and Screenwriters” to select you for upcoming readings.
ONCE YOU BECOME A ACTIVE MEMBER YOU INFO WILL BECOME VISIBLE
What is a “Table Read”?
Answer: Table reads are employed in several different acting scenarios, from plays to episodic television to films and even, on occasion, commercials, when actors are gathered together, around a table, to read the script aloud and give the producers an idea of what the final production will sound like.
When a writer begins the process of putting the script together, the only voice he hears in his head is his own. All the characters use his speech patterns, accent, pitch and rhythm. Once the script is working shape, and before it’s finalized, one of the things the writer might want to consider is to hold a table read.
A table read gathers together actors to sit around a table, open the script, read not only the lines, but also the stage directions and narration, and see what happens. It doesn’t have to be around a table many table reads consist of gathering chairs around couches in a lobby or office space and reading the script.
In the early stages of a script’s life, a table read can be very useful to the production team. It can assure that a scene actually plays, with real people, the way the team thinks it should. And it can also, very quickly, expose the flaws in a scene’s timing, words, emotional level and context.
You might be called in to a table read to help the writer flesh out something not quite clear to him, or, you might be called in as a simple favor to a casting director or producer. Bear in mind that being called in for a table read is not a booking, is usually unpaid work, and doesn’t assure that you’ll even audition for the part that you are reading. But – it’s exposure to several production team members that might use you for that project, or remember you for a project in the future.
Table reads also are used for stage productions. Usually, the table read of a play still being workshopped is a read that is like what I’ve already described – to help the production team work out the kinks. But later, as the play is cast, the table read begins the process of melding the cast together, getting reads and timing down, generating performance notes from the director and so on, long before the piece gets up on its feet.
With film and television episodic production, there may be a table read before the script and the cast is even auditioned. But once the script is approved for production and the cast is finalized, a table read is often the very first production item. On a film, the table read might occur on the first day’s production, or long before, or not at all. It might occur in a separate location – and usually, you’re paid for that work.
With episodic television, table reads are also an initial effort, for which you are usually paid. You may not be invited to the table read if your part is small – they’ll just have an assistant read your lines. But bear in mind that at any time, you can be shown the exit door – including after you’re cast, before and after the table read, in production or in the performance. Table read etiquette, especially if you’re a guest cast member, is important: be nice, be quiet, be helpful, but don’t be a pest or brash or loud. Treat the cast members with quiet joviality, and don’t do anything different (unless directed to) from what you did in the audition that got you the call back and the call back that got you the work.
Finally, you’re never really hired for a production until you sign your contract, shoot the project, get the check and see yourself on-screen. And at any point along the way, including at the table read, you can potentially get fired from the production. The table read is not the time to try new things, throw your weight around, upend the intent of the character and the way you portrayed it. In addition to the notes on behavior above, know that you can be fired before, during or after a table read. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens. Don’t let it happen to you.
Table reads are a great way to hear how the voices are going to blend together. It’s usually the director’s first opportunity to have the whole cast together at the same time.
They’re also the director’s first chance to hear the show out loud from beginning to end. The director probably heard a few scenes during auditions, but never the whole script. Directors spend so much time poring over the script, silently reading to themselves. And it’s inspiring to hear the script out loud. It’s a reminder that the project is a living thing, not just words on a page.
A table read is when the director starts building the community that is going to put on the project. It’s a message to everyone that the director is the leader, but we’re all part of the same team with the same goal.
Lastly, the table read is an opportunity to discover tricky spots. Are some actors going to need more help than others? Are there technical issues that you didn’t consider when you were reading the script?
A table read is a very low pressure reassuring process to calm actors’ nerves and to get them accustomed to the fact that they’re there, the role is theirs, they were chosen for a reason
The table read is an opportunity to hear the script and to understand our character’s role in the story. The table read is a chance for actors to hear from the other characters on the project, to get a sense of what’s happening outside of our own goals and objectives, and to see the whole project.
Making the Table Read Effective – Tips for Directors
Describe your vision for the show. Some of your actors will be nervous. As a director, step up and go first. Describe your vision for the show. Talk about your influences for the direction of this show, why you chose the script, and why you chose this set of actors.
Don’t act. Tell your actors to not “act.” Ask them to just read the script. Focus on clarity. Focus on reading the words on the page. Focus on hearing the story clearly. Coach your cast to slow down if they’re going too fast. Assure your cast that they have already won the roles. They showed you something in the audition that made you choose them. This is not an audition, this isn’t a show, it’s a reading. This is the team on the starting line. There will be lots of time for acting later.
Have word definitions / pronunciations ready. If you’re working with student actors, it’s likely that they will have not done much homework. Identify unfamiliar words and look up the correct pronunciations and definitions. The actors should be doing this for themselves, but they probably won’t. If you’re ready with the answers (you should know the definitions and pronunciations anyway) then you’ll avoid wasting everyone else’s time at the first rehearsal.
Have fun. But be clear that this is work time. You are building a team. Set a fun relaxed environment for the first meeting. But when it comes to the actual table read, be clear that it’s time to work. Stifle side-chatter during the reading and demand focus on the task at hand.