Script reading is a skill that you can continue to build and improve over time, especially when you’re prepared with some smart strategies and tips. We’ve created a handy guide to script reading, so you can learn:
- Tips for how to become a better script reader
- How to approach a new script and prepare to read it well
- The best way to start a career in the media industry
To the inexperienced, reading a script seems like it would be simple and straightforward. After all, you’re just reading words off a page, right?
But those of us that have actually experienced script reading know that it’s not something just anybody can do. Even if you have a knack for reading a script well, there’s definitely still plenty of skill (and practice!) involved. In fact, if a person makes script reading look easy, then that’s an excellent indication that they’ve worked incredibly hard to master it.
How can I get better at reading a script?
Students in our Digital Media Production program gain firsthand experience with reading scripts, both in a classroom setting and a real-life studio set-up. They learn exactly how to start with a new script, how to navigate the prep process, and tips for a smoother, more confident read – and we’re sharing some of that valuable information with you, here and now.
Keep reading to get some insider tips and tricks for becoming a better script reader, as well as how you can turn this skill into a full-time career.
What Should I Look for When Reading a Script?
Before you can dive into script reading tips, let’s talk about the basic steps you should be taking when you receive a new-to-you script – and what you should look for in the read-through at each stage.
Obviously, the more times you’re able to read and review it, the better. But even if you’re in a situation in which you’re pressed for time, you can get a good feel for a script with the right approach. Here’s how:
- Do first-time read through: Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, and make sure your “acting brain” is fully activated and ready to tune in. Read the script all the way through without rushing.
- Then, do a technical read: Read the script a second time, paying even closer attention this time. Make notes to highlight any words or phrases you aren’t familiar with, as well as any references that you don’t understand. In order to effectively read a script, it’s vital that you comprehend every last detail – so don’t make the mistake of thinking you can “fake” your way through it.
- Use your notes to do a learning-focused read through: Now, you’ll need your smartphone, a computer, or a physical dictionary. Go back through the script and look up every word/phrase you didn’t know, so you can familiarize yourself with their meanings.
- Read through your part only: Up until this point, you should have been reading the script in full. Now, you’re going to hone in on your specific part and begin to get a feel for the part the character plays in the story as a whole. It’s often very useful to repeat this step a few times, so that you can really “get to know” the character you’ll be playing.
- Look at the other characters’ perspectives: Once you know who your character is, you can look to other characters. Review what they say about your character, how they interact, and what the overall dynamic is like. Don’t forget to note what the playwright has to say about your role as well.
- Finally, do a circumstantial read-through: In this last stage, you can build out your concept of the imaginary circumstances that are shaping and impacting your character. Make notes that will serve as reminders during your formal read-through/rehearsals.
Even though there are several steps listed above, with some practice, you’ll be able to complete the process in less and less time. This approach can give you a head start, whether you have a few moments, a few hours, or a few weeks to prepare for a rehearsal or audition.
What are Five Tips that Will Help When Reading a Script?
Need some practical tips for script reading that can help you hone your craft? Here are a few of our favorites:
This one probably sounds incredibly obvious, but it can be easier said than done. However, knowing how to slow yourself down and stay relaxed can make a world of difference. Before you begin, take a few deep breaths to find your inner balance. If possible, stay away from caffeine before a big read, and make sure you’re in a positive state of mind.
Get into character.
One of the biggest mistakes made during a script reading comes down to the character being played: if you don’t consider who they are and what their role is in the story, how will you present a convincing performance? Even if you aren’t playing a part (for example, perhaps you’re broadcasting a news story), consider what your specific role is and how you can fulfill it.
Be well versed in the basics.
The very first time you ever see a script, it can look like it’s written in a completely different language – and that’s because it basically it. Understanding basic script formatting, structure, and terms is a necessity. Beyond allowing you to properly execute the part and story as the writer(s) and director envisioned it, a foundational understanding of scripts will enable you to play the part that much more effectively for the audience.
Take advantage of training and education opportunities.
Practicing on your own is all well and good, but true growth will come from working with experienced professionals. Someone that’s worked in the industry can give you excellent feedback and help you learn how to get better at script reading, using their expertise to support your growth and development. If you’re serious about turning this into a career, look into enrolling in a media school that gives you real experiences in a studio environment.
Practice as much as possible.
How many times should you read through a script? The answer is as many as you can, and then some. There’s really no such thing as practicing a script read too much, because you’re likely to glean something new on every read-through.
Set Up Your Big Break with an Education in Digital Media Production
While there will always be those “fairytale” stories of voice actors, broadcasters, and other media personalities who were discovered purely by chance, the large majority of successful professionals worked hard to get their dream jobs. With a combination of determination, creativity, talent, and education, you can begin a journey that can lead you to the media career you’ve always wanted.
The BeonAir Network of Media Schools in Miami, Chicago, Colorado, and Ohio is an accredited institution that offers specialized programs for students who want to work in media. One of our newest programs in Digital Media Production presents a unique look into the dynamic, ever-changing world of digital media. Students get to combine classroom learning and hands-on experiences, building an array of skills that include script reading, improvisation, equipment use, and more.
It’s never too early or too late to start working towards your professional goals – so what are you waiting for? Get more information about our media career education programs and kickstart your future today!
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