Home > Books & Things > Reading Plays in Book Clubs

Reading Plays in Book Clubs

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 26 Nov 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Reading Plays In Book Clubs Reading

To inject a bit of fun and novelty into your book club, why not try reading a play? In fact, although they are often passed over in favour of novels, plays can also provide wonderful learning and discussion opportunities. And as they were designed to be performed and not just read, they often incorporate literary devices which help the reader comprehend better. In addition, readers are often compelled to focus more closely on the text in order to translate the words into the dramatic actions on stage.

How to Read it?

In addition to asking members to read the play themselves, it can be great fun to assign characters to each member and then to spend part of each meeting reading different sections of the play aloud, with different book club members playing different parts. This way you can “hear” the play better and thus discuss the playwright’s intentions with the words he/she used, as well as possible alternative ways of performing the lines. You can even employ a common drama technique and ask the performing members to “freeze” mid-action while the rest of the club discusses and interprets the meanings in the play at that point.

Things to look at when reading plays include:
  • The interaction between language and action.
  • The characters – their backgrounds, burdens, motivations, quirks.
  • The imagery.
  • The flow of events. (eg. how do the basic plot points build up to the climax?)
  • Any stage directions and how this contributes to overall interpretation and understanding.
  • The form and function. (eg. what decides the breaks between scenes?)

How to Discuss it?

Plays offer a wealth of material for discussion. Aside from a straight discussion of the words, you can also talk about the characters; their motivations and how their past or personal quirks affect their choices. Like a novel, you can discuss the underlying themes and the imagery used. It can also be interesting to examine the different perspectives from the different characters and how that affects the interpretation of the story. Looking at the overall genre of play is also interesting (is it a comedy? Tragedy? Romance?) and how things might have been different if it had been written in a different form (eg. a satire, musical, classical Greek tragedy, etc.)

People may also enjoy imagining how they would react if they were in the character’s position or perhaps members can discuss how they would each interpret the characters differently if they were performing the play on stage.Lastly, many plays come in a critical edition including essays that discuss the points above – this can be a very good starting point for discussion, particularly to see if club members agree or disagree with the critique.

Other Activities

The play can provide a launch pad for exploration in many other areas – for example, how about reading books about the history of Scotland, following on from ‘Macbeth’? Would a foray into the Greek myths enhance a reading of one of the famous Greek tragedies? You could also look at what other famous works of literature may have influenced or inspired the play and read those, trying to find the links between them.

Of course, the most obvious and probably most popular activity would be to stage the play yourselves, provided that there are enough members in the book club to take on the roles. This can be great fun and provide further learning opportunities in management, communication, organisation and public speaking, as well as general confidence-building.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
How does one go about getting hold of scripts for reading short plays?
Gabbler - 26-Nov-18 @ 3:56 PM
I am also interested in suitable plays for book clubs
Susan - 27-Oct-15 @ 3:38 PM
Any ideas for plays that might be suitable and how do I go about getting hold of them? Cheers Fee
Fee - 20-Oct-13 @ 1:54 PM
I belong to a small reading group in Shetland and we would like to try reading a short play.Any suggestions for plays that might be suitable for a start?
rose - 18-Aug-12 @ 5:03 PM
Where can I access books for a play reading group
Joy - 14-Jul-11 @ 6:41 PM
What are the legal restrictions in reading plays?Any suggestions for plays that have been enjoyed by book clubs?
Michael B. Faucher - 10-Jun-11 @ 3:07 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Carol
    Re: Book Club Rules and Standards
    I need advise please. Is the below statement correct, the lady that runs our BC says it is. But l can find no where that proves…
    30 July 2020
  • igor
    Re: The Top Ten Famous Authors
    This list is so anglo centric as to be laughable. The remarks that accompany their names are less than informative; consider Ayn…
    26 July 2020
  • kennyJ
    Re: Book Clubs for Teenagers
    Hi, I am also looking for a online virtual book club, which my son can participate (like zoom etc), is there any out there?
    11 July 2020
  • Someone
    Re: The Top Ten Famous Authors
    Is this suitable for children? - I don’t think so . . .
    30 June 2020
  • Percy Fan (Duh)
    Re: The Top Ten Famous Authors
    Hold on a sec! Where on earth is RICK RIORDON !!???? Have no one here has read his books? Percy Jackson? Magnus Chase? Carter? woah…
    24 June 2020
  • Ajay Kumar
    Re: The Top Ten Famous Authors
    Hi i have done so many Television Shows and films i have articles of news. Can anyone help me to wrote article on wikipedia
    13 May 2020
  • geofrnd
    Re: The Top Ten Famous Authors
    Philip Pullman? scott f. fitzgerald? harper lee? where are the famous authors????????
    11 May 2020
  • Sarina
    Re: The Top Ten Famous Authors
    Where is roald dahl? He is a famous children book writer including matilda and charlie and the chocolate factory!
    6 May 2020
  • Zako
    Re: Start a Book Club Blog
    You feel disappointed with your family or you want to transform your family with God's wisdom you don't know what to do this is the…
    11 April 2020
  • Jackson Robert Scott
    Re: The Top Ten Famous Authors
    Where is the king of horror, Stephen King!? His books are horrifying, interesting, and very well - written. Include him, not just…
    25 March 2020