Another day, another installment of my Genre Exploration series, where I discuss genres and anything interesting I find about them.
Since I joined the online book community I’ve noticed that not many pay attention to written plays. Of course, this all changed this year, when most hurried to bookstores and got one they couldn’t wait to read and discuss with other readers – Harry Potter & the Cursed Child.
Seeing everyone reading that got me very excited because I love reading plays and I thought that people were going to start paying more attention to that genre. Sadly, it didn’t really mean that, as it was a one time thing for many. A Potter exception. Still, as part of this series I wanted to discuss a little what the pros of reading plays vs. watching them are. I’m not exactly trying to convince you to read plays… but I totally am. So let’s go!
Firstly, I have to admit I haven’t read nearly enough plays to feel well-versed in this genre. I love them, but I’ve neglected them over the years and feel terrible about it! Still, I do think that I’ve enjoyed every single play I’ve picked up so much that it’s enough to be an advocate for them. I love the theater and whether I see the plays I read or not, I believe it’s a genre worth a shot every once in a while.
As some love to read the book before seeing the film adaptation, some people love to read a play before going to the theater. But realistically speaking, there are very few plays we could do that with. At least considering my own experience, where the plays I want to read are not the ones being performed at the theater. That, in itself, is the biggest advantage of reading plays. It means that reading from this genre gives you the opportunity to experience something that you might never get to see performed. Case in point: Harry Potter & the Cursed Child for most of us outside the UK. Besides that advantage, there are definitely other pros of reading plays.
- You get to imagine the whole thing: the scenery, the characters, the clothing. I love picturing everything my own way. I imagine I’m the director and the text comes to life in a different way than a novel might.
- You don’t miss anything because you can read calmly or reread any passage more than once. Sometimes if you only watch the play, you can get distracted or you can’t understand what the actors are saying and it’s really frustrating. The latter always happens to me and I feel like I miss a lot of interesting details!
- You digest the story at your own pace. This is related to the last point. When reading a play, you can stop at any time and then go back to it when you feel like it. Also, if it’s a tough play to follow (like an absurdist play), you have time to take notes and highlight or research quotes, references or terms you might not know.
- They are quick reads because they are mostly dialog. Conversations are quicker to read, so if you are looking to reach your goal for the yearly Goodreads challenge or maybe you want to get out of a reading slump, plays are a great way to go!
- It’s a unique reading experience. Different from novels and different that watching them performed, reading a play is a very special experience. With only dialogs and minor descriptions, virtually the only thing you have is characters, bare and unhindered, waiting for you to “hear” or even “perform” their voices yourself in your own way. I mean that metaphorically speaking, unless, of course, you are a very theatrical person. You have to figure them out, seek the themes, maybe follow a plot based on solely their conversations, monologues, etc. I can’t really explain it, but it’s a very different feeling compared to reading a novel. I simply love it.