The published script squeeze | Why you type out the rehearsal script | A good rehearsal script | It saves time

The published script squeeze

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Community theatre groups purchase most scripts from a play publishing service like Samuel French or Dramatists Play Service. Plays by other services and publishers have the same problem. They’re small and the text is crammed into as few pages as possible. That doesn’t make for a good rehearsal script.

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Take a letter-sized piece of paper in landscape orientation and fold it in half to form a booklet. With size loss due to machine cutting, each leaf or one page of text measures 3.5 x 6 inches. The booklet itself is 7.75 x 10 inches.

Margins are from ½ to ¾ of an inch, word count ranges from 240–400 words per page.




Although it’s convenient to hold in one hand, there’s no room to write down blocking and notes. You need to make a rehearsal script. The stage manager will do the same to create the production script. Actors also often make their own rehearsal script. People use a standard procedure to construct a rehearsal script.

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To make a rehearsal script:
  1. Photocopy the published copy.
  2. Separate the pages.
  3. Attach each onto either paper for use in a binder or the pages of a blank notebook

This keeps the script together and protected.

You are not going to make your rehearsal script this way.

Instead, you are going to use the published copy and type out a rehearsal script.

Why you type out the rehearsal script

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There are a number of reasons. One is that it's a great way to really get to know the text: literally every comma, question mark, and period.

Another is if you're making any changes for length or other purposes, you can do them as you go.

The main reason has to do with the layout and text style of the published version:
  • Dialogue, action, character names, and stage directions are together on the same line, often making it difficult to see some dialogue.
  • Stage directions are italicized and hard to read.
  • It contains acting notes.

This last point is a real pain in auditions. Actors want to please the director. They want to get a part. Therefore, they read the acting notes and think they have to give that performance for you.

They read the stage directions and either don’t understand them so they freeze in place or they start wandering around aimlessly.

See the examples below, taken from A Funny Script©. The coloured sections highlight some of the issues mentioned above.

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Note:The examples are contained in CrowdedText.pdf. The text from this topic is in WhyType.pdf.


A good rehearsal script

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Compare the original published text on the left page to the edited version on the right page.
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Page numbers and amount of dialogue match the original.

Notice the number from the unit breakdown at the top right of the page.

You can add the unit breakdown numbers now or later. Either way, the rehearsal script you give to others will have all the unit numbers.





Center the text area on letter page paper, use a three-hole punch, and store scripts in three-ring binders. During rehearsal actors can either carry their binder or remove specific pages and use a clipboard if needed.

Note: The script sample is in BetterVersion.pdf. The topic text is in GoodRehearsalScript.pdf.


It saves time

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Extra work now by an individual (you) will save a group of people (the cast and crew) a lot of time and effort later. For Instance:
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When you pull out scenes for future auditions, they'll contain only the essential information.

Too often in auditions the acting notes from a script limit the actor's work. With you supplying a character profile and a short back-story paragraph, the actor should have everything needed to breathe life into the part.

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