AUDIENCES. LIVE READINGS
There are two different kinds of readings. One is with actors who provide the emotions of the movie through the dialogue, usually for the director, and usually without an audience. The other is a 'prose' reading most likely during script development when the script is read by a single person and where the listening audience follows the narrative and imagines the emotions.
PROSE READINGS DURING SCRIPT DEVELOPMENT
This reading usually occurs when a first draft is nearing completion. A single voice reads the action and the dialogue in a compelling but undramatic tone to a small group of people who are unfamiliar with the project. Members of this 'listening audience' each become director and audience at the same time, and because it is read one page per minute (quite fast!) they experience the narrative at the same pace as a cinema audience.
Each listener has their own copy of the script so that they can follow the text at the same time as it is read to them. Seeing and hearing the words together strengthens the experience for them, but more importantly, by being on the same page, the reader can make ink markings on the script as they go along. If they like or dislike anything they are encouraged to mark the script either with a tick or a cross. Or the letter ‘B’ which stands for boring, too long, unconvincing. Or a ? which means they don’t understand what is going on, nor do they care. Listening audiences are told they don’t have to explain why they love or hate anything, and that even if they were wrong it is of interest. They are rarely wrong though, for there is usually a reason for their concern. Additionally, if they don’t understand something within the narrative, thousands of others won’t understand it either. The purpose of this reading is to see how the story is working, and to check its pace and structure.
ACTORS READINGS USUALLY WITH THE DIRECTOR
Live Readings with actors playing different roles are most likely to occur when a director is attached, and when the director is seeking to advance the script for the purposes of shooting it. A live audience is not usual in such instances.