The “Best Lesson” Staged Reading with Jeanette Hill

By Jeanette Hill

Jeanette Hill, Best Lesson Play
Playwright Jeanette Hill

Ujima Magazine posted information about Jeanette Hill of JW Hill Productions is heading to Howard University to do a stage reading of her play “The Best Lesson.” The play asked the question what do you do when you are too old to be young… but you are too young to be old?

Ujima asked Hill to explain a staged reading and the process? She was more than happy to explain how this works. We wish Jeanette and her production company the best because to be invited to this type of event for a playwright is very important.

A Little About Staged Readings

The purpose of a staged reading is to assist the playwright with the development of his or her work (the play) and is conducted after the table read or working reading. That reading is a private, unrehearsed reading of script-usually conducted with readers sitting around a table.


In addition to identifying the necessity of further development or state production readiness, the staged reading provides important feedback from the audience.

THE BEST LESSON promo final


The Talkback Session occurs immediately following the reading and is conducted by a moderator. The cast and director are seated in front of the audience. The moderator tenders a prepared list of questions and keep the discussion on track and productive. (The playwright takes notes and listens).


The way the staged reading is conducted is based on the director’s preference, but has the same basic components-a theater or setting with a stage area, lights, actors, an intermission and a seated audience. Staged readings vary, but three most common methods are explained below:


Standard staged reading


  • Actors stand on stage and read from scripts placed on music stands in front of a seated audience in a theater or theater-like location
  • No costumes, props or sets
  • Actors use voice inflection, facial expressions and pacing to set the mood of the play. Think of radio drama or possibly a dramatized book reading.


Modified Staged Reading


  • Actors are more familiar with the play
  • Hold the script in hand
  • Possibly with some costuming, small props and minimal blocking/staging (stage position)


Fully developed stage reading


  • Actors performing on a partial or full set
  • Have memorized their lines
  • Wear costumes/wigs, props and is fully blocked.


Staged readings are exciting events. They provide the playwright with information necessary for improvement and/or production of work. This staging not only provides the audience with a first look at a theatrical performance, but also gives opportunity to give their personal input.  


The aforementioned opportunity has been provided for me as I will be participating in the 2013 DC Black Theatre Festival’s New Works Reading Series from June 21-30. The staged reading for my stage play, The Best Lesson, will be Monday, the 24th at 9pm in the Fine Arts Building on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. If you are in the area, I’d love for you stop by and give your input. The event is free to the public. For more information go to

Please send Jeanette well wishes. Congratulations Jeanette!


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