Engage & Learn

Script Text Analysis: Out Loud vs. In Your Head

Unlike other works of literature such as novels or short stories, plays are meant to be heard out loud rather than read to oneself. The author of the play, known as the playwright, connects together scenes of dialogue between characters to create a storyline for their audiences to follow. Sometimes, they will also add in stage notes, describing the setting of the scene or the mood of the character. As you will see, when plays are read out loud these notes are also read, but when a scene is acted, it is up to the director and actors to visually make these note known. What differences can you detect between reading, hearing, and seeing the words play out?


From Scene 1 of RACE

(SUSAN reenters with various papers.)

SUSAN. Copies of: the indictment, the report of the first responding officer, room report, and report of the chambermaid, report of the floor supervisor…


SUSAN. …chambermaid’s late, making up the room, the floor supervisor needs to file a report.

(She hands them the reports.)

HENRY. We’re going to pass on the case.


SUSAN. We’re passing on the case.

JACK. Call Mr. Strickland in, and…

SUSAN. Why are we passing on the case?

HENRY. Because. Given a choice, we are permitted to choose to pass on the case.

SUSAN. Then I should give him back his check.

JACK. What check?

SUSAN. He wrote us a check.

JACK. “For?”

SUSAN. You asked me, to have him fill out a “client application form,” and…

HENRY. …we asked you to keep him “busy”…?

SUSAN. And, he asked, if we also requried a retainer, and I said…

HENRY. And is it in your limited experience that a potential client, a potential client, come in for a consultation, will voluntarily offer money?


HENRY. Or is it in your limited experience that, conversely, the client will employ any means of stealth and delay to avoid the payment of bills.

JACK. Leave her alone.

HENRY. Well, no, this is your Honor Student, let’s

JACK. It’s alright

HENRY. She’s your science project, Jacky, she’s not mine. And you were going to take the check?


HENRY. And had you had it in contention to give him a receipt?

SUSAN. Yes. I was writing him a…

HENRY. (to SUSAN) What does it mean contractually, if you had accepted the check, and you had given him a receipt. Is there a technical term for that?


SUSAN. It’s called a retainer.

HENRY. And what is its definition?


HENRY. Is it “a legal contract“?

JACK. …alright…

HENRY. Which means we might be obliged to try his case?

SUSAN. He gave a check to Greenstein…

HENRY. I’m sure he did not.


HENRY. Because Greenstein’s too fucking smart.

SUSAN. I was simply…

JACK. No harm done, alright? We leave the check upon the table. No harm done. If he’s written the check, don’t touch it.

( HENRY shakes his head.)


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