Wednesday, 19 September 2018


All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.

My local library has a Play Reading Group. It’s similar to a Book Club in the sense that we all read the same text, except we read the plays together, each picking up the various parts as the evening progresses. 

Last night we read ‘The Chain’ by Jack Rosenthal, a comedy involving the joys and disasters of moving house as viewed by several different households in the same chain. 

I read several parts: an upper class gent who before he moved out of his old home removed all the light bulbs and unscrewed the door handles; a young woman who was hoping that the adage ‘new house, new baby’ would apply to her; a removal man who had nothing to say apart from a few grunts and expletives.

It made me think about the value of effective characterisation. For the audience, the actors add actions and facial expressions, accents and variations in speed and volume of delivery, all of which give an individuality to the dramatis personae. As play readers we had the benefit of the playwright’s stage directions. But in prose the ability for the reader to distinguish one character from another is down to the skill of the writer.

Yesterday’s Play Reading Group was a useful reminder for me to consider speech patterns and ‘voice’ when writing my short stories. 

And as I had a good time and enjoyed meeting new people, I shall continue to attend just for the fun of it

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