Screenwriting : First Table Read- what’s my role? by Adrianna Agudelo

Adrianna Agudelo

First Table Read- what’s my role?

Friends! I’m doing a really casual table read of a script I wrote with my improv troupe. As the writer should I only listen and take notes? Or should I read the Action? Should I stop to explain anything? Or just let the script roll out and see how it’s interpreted by the actors? What was your first experience like? Is there anything you wish you’d known prior to being in that moment?

Doug Nelson

Give your readers (actors) a brief character bio. Have someone else read the scene headings and action. turn on a video/audio recorder. Sit down, shut up and listen.

Eoin O'Sullivan

Someone needs to assume the role of Narrator - that can be the writer, but ideally, you want to be a casual observer.

Don't interrupt, don't explain, don't tell people how they should act or speak - you want fresh eyes to read and interpret your work - that's the point.

Craig D Griffiths

Depends what you want to get out of it. Do you have someone that can read the action? Let them do it.

I have sat through a few table reads of my work. I like to sit and listen and experience the pacing and how it feels. After the first read of The Valley I told the back story of the family in the film. The actor that read Mum said she would have loved to have known that. I added a few line near the start for the actor and the audience.

This is an opportunity for you to see your script as a film. I like to sit back and watch it as a fan. That way I allow myself to get excited during the exciting bit and disappointed during the boring bits.

The only universal advice I can give. Is don’t try to make the read as good as it can be. Use it to make your script as good as it can be. If it sucks in the read, it will suck on the screen.

Marvin Bryson

Table reads are like a screening of a finished project. You'll get much of what you expect regarding tone, tenor, humor, etc. But they'll also be things that surprise you. Let someone else read the action, don't interrupt, and audio record it to supplement your written notes. Most importantly, enjoy the moment. It's a great thing, particularly at the stage you are in the process


Monica Mansy

Hi, Adrianna Agudelo definitely your call and I've seen it done different ways. Personally, I prefer to have someone else read the action lines, etc. I think it gives the writer a way to pull back and "watch" / listen entirely. Just my opinion! Congrats and HAVE FUN!

Ewan Dunbar

The best thing about a table read (or at the moment virtual table reads) is that it sits you in the seat of the audience and not the writer, so I always recommend getting someone else to read the scene descriptions and the action so your only job is to sit and "watch" your screenplay as a viewer. Often its good to then discuss things with the people that read the script, make some notes and changes based on your thoughts and go again.

Adrianna Agudelo

Thank you! All great information here. I definitely have a clearer understanding of what to do during the table read and I am so looking forward to seeing my work played out and me as an Audience. I can only imagine what it must be like to attend a premier or see your work come to life on stage. How exciting for this first step. Thanks again for the encouragement and advice!

Craig D Griffiths

Let us know how it goes. Share your experience.

Hannah Miyamoto

I recommend paying close attention to the actors. Their reaction will tell you if your script is funny or dull, and where it lags and where it crackles.

Adrianna Agudelo

That’s a great idea, I def will. It’s scheduled tentatively for mid august. But I will check in and let you know how it goes :)

Martin Reese

I agree with the comments that say you're acting as audience member. Definitely pay attention to the actors' reactions. Also note of if there are certain lines that actors have problems with.

Maurice Vaughan

Thanks for posting, Adrianna Agudelo. I've had these questions also. I haven't done a table read yet.

Donnalyn Vojta

That sounds awesome! Since I haven't had a table read of any of my scripts yet, I'm excited to hear how yours goes. I hope you'll post here again on it. :-)

Aimee McGuire

Congrats! I definitely vote for you to take an audience role, like Martin said. You're going to want to be scribbling notes too, I'm sure so give yourself the availability to do that. It always helps me to PRINT my script and red pen it while I'm listening, as opposed to taking notes on the computer because it's much easier to use a shorthand when writing physically (for me, anyway).

If it's a comedy, I have a few different colors- like green is I got an LOL moment, so I mark that joke so I know it's solid. Blue might mean just a chuckle so you can punch it up, red for any typos or things you want to change, including jokes that fell flat.

And record it if you can!

Good luck!

Adrianna Agudelo

Hi all! I just posted a new memo in the Screenwriters lounge about the table read! If you’d like to know how it went, please stop in to the lounge:) thanks again for all your support and advice :)

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