The Play’s the Thing

Haven’t Read a Play since High School?

One of the FewYou’re not alone.
Three out of four 
adult Americans read
at least one book a year.

Fewer than
one in a thousand
EVER reads a play!

Why Not?

There are so many reasons,
from simple unawareness
(“Who reads plays?”)
and all our other pastimes
to the cancer in our culture that derides and stigmatizes
theatre—the wholly human art.

“Plays are written for the stage!”
(but who goes to the theatre?)

All these reasons are examined and debunked by CR/I and countered by just as many more profound and startling arguments in Why Read Plays?)

For starters, click on Hamlet for Albert Dulin’s  3 ½  minute take on Cold Reads, a brilliant introduction to the project—a silly slideshow that touches all the whys and hows and leads to excerpts from a reading of his play  and winds up with a rousing, symphonic tumble of aptly adulterated images that bring it all home.

My quick overview begins with a startling discovery . Did you know that  Science proves beyond all doubt:

Reading Aloud
is Good for the

And what better to read aloud than a play?

After all, what is a play?
a novel with no narrator—just people (characters)
engaged in conversation (dialogue).
Tailor-made for quality time with friends.

It’s FUN!

A cold read is a parlor game, like playing cards or Clue. We play (a play on words) a play; we read the lines we’re dealt, in turn, to tell ourselves a story.  As we read, we talk about it and ourselves, the world—we socialize. Sometimes we’re hilarious, other times profoundly moved. Like any game, the more we play, the better we get. Unlike most, everybody wins.

It’s Easy

Anyone can cold read anywhere, for twenty minutes to three (or more) hours, with any one or two to a dozen friends (or total strangers)—all it takes is a digital reader. Simply download a play and start reading. Tips and guidelines on selecting plays, acquiring scripts, and gathering a group are posted in How It Happens, along with protocols for convivial reading.

How EasyWE DON’T ACT. We simply read, assuming roles regardless of gender, age, or type, and double up for crowd scenes, swap around so everybody reads.
WE DON’T REHEARSE. We read “cold,” finding out what happens as we go.
WE DON’T PERFORM. No stressful stage fright.
. All you need is a digital reader (tablet, laptop, smart phone).
TIME AN ISSUE? Start out with a 10-minute play.

And That’s Not All

Cold reads enhance our lives in many very different ways. We exercise and improve our reading skills, enunciation,  conversation, as we come to appreciate literary Drama (Poetry and/or Prose as dialog) and develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and humankind. By doing it together, we share a common literary bond. We exercise our collective imagination, gain insights into other times and places, walk in other people’s shoes, and discover that playwrights are as literary, wise, and witty as novelists, as lyrical as poets, and we take pride in dropping their names at parties. We Know Drama.

The Time was WHEN

For the first two thousand years of western civilization, most people couldn’t read. Anything they knew of the world they learned from personal experience or word of mouth, from priests and criers, politicians, storytellers, troubadours and minstrels, poets, and—by far most popular and influential—actors on a stage in plays by Sophocles and Shakespeare. The profound and lasting impact of live theatre on the world we know is addressed in The Wholly Human Art.

The Time is NOW

For the first time in human history, reading plays aloud in groups is free and easy, thanks to the internet. Think about that. (See E-Reading.)

Poetry, Prose, and Drama

Three-Legged Stool 2Plays are one of the three main forms of literature. Until the Industrial Revolution (c. 1760-1840) they were the only form most people knew. Then paper mills made paper cheap, people learned to read, and Dickens wrote romantic novels (in prose), which they enjoyed at home—often read aloud, to the family, But they still went to the theater for Drama. Why read plays? They played parlor games instead, read poetry and prose. Then the movies came along, and Drama fell by the wayside.

Most of what we read these days is prose; poetry is rarely read but omnipresent in our ears (song lyrics), but unless we go to the theatre (and we don’t), We Don’t Know Drama.

It’s All Inside

This site explores these and other personal and societal benefits of reading cold in Why Read Plays?). If you need more convincing, start there.

About Us explains exactly who we are, what we do, and how we do it (with lots of options), and it urges people everywhere to do likewise—download scripts from our growing catalog, post feedback, and join our revolutionary grassroots movement.

Tabs beneath the banner at the top of every page open pages that address the topic; hover over the tabs to reveal sub-topics. Internal links, Categories, Search, and other functions are addressed in Navigation Tips.

So Do It!

Just for fun, if nothing else. If you like it, do it again (and again). You owe it to yourself to give it a try.

And after you read, if you have time, post us some Feedback.

If it gets to be a habit, Start a Group.

Better still, Join CR/I, and spread the word.

We’re Here to Help

If you have questions or suggestions, post a Comment or email us at

When People Gather to Read Plays
as Often as They do to Pray (or Play)
the World Will Be a Better Place to live



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Reading Plays with Friends for Fun and Cultural Enrichment

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