Some actors cringe at the thought of it and it’s kind of humorous not wanting to read plays if you actually are an actor. In fact, actors should read screenplays as well. While we’re at it, read novels, poetry, comic books, newspapers (they do still exist) and any other reading material that you can get your hands on that will make room in your mind to imagine people and envision stories.
It may sound obvious but there isn’t enough quality reading going on and in today’s society we get bombarded with so much media noise that it does in fact get distracting. However, ‘there are gems in them forests’…take some time in your life and read literature. Actors should dive into not only contemporary plays, but also plays by Ibsen, Strindberg and Chekhov, the forefathers of modern drama. Grow your foundation and understand the history of theatre and it’s writers and how it’s shaped the theatre throughout the years.
Plays by George Bernard Shaw and Eugene O’Neill, Samuel Beckett and further back to Shakespeare, Marlowe, Pirandello and still further back to Euripides, Aristophanes and Sophocles. Educate yourself and learn about dramatic action, conflict, character, circumstances and more. The more you comprehend, the better acting choices you will make for your role. It’s a good way to get connected to specific time periods and by doing so, expands your understanding of the evolution of different cultures.
There is a ton of great plays from lesser known writers throughout the same time period. You should research them and make discoveries. There are gems wherever you may look. If you live in New York or happen to be passing through, check out these bookstores.
Pick up short story collections if you aren’t big on reading…a few pages of a story is better than reading nothing at all. Great short story writers to consider are J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories, The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway’s (The Finca Vigia Edition), Katherine Mansfield, Herman Melville’s Billy Budd and other Tales, Franz Kafka, James Joyce’s Dubliners, Katherine Anne Porter, Memoirs of a Sportsman by Turgenev, Joyce Carol Oates, Leo Tolstoy’s Short Stories, Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Borges and Chekhov stories. There are many other great writers for short stories that you can read if you rather read shorter length material. There are way too many to name obviously but those are some terrific writers to get started on.
The point is, don’t get so caught up in and stuck on watching. It’s a good idea to keep reading in your life if you aren’t already.