Every last friday of the month, Hope Mill Theatre’s Play Reading Club convenes. This group of actors, amateurs and enthusiasts is open to all, encouraging a mixture of age, experience and background. They read a wide variety of texts with quality guiding their choices, rather than the genre or age of a particular play.
The group has been running for over three years and continues to gather momentum. Over lockdown they kept reading via the, now all too familiar, medium of zoom. Previously, the group met in Hope Mill and paid a small fee to cover venue costs. Now the sessions are pay as you feel, however a donation is recommended. Manchester based actor Janelle Thompson currently facilitates the sessions, putting her passion for each work into every month.
everyone is united in the shared enjoyment of each play
Some of the writers, who’s work the group have previously explored, include expected greats such as Arthur Miller and Shakesphere. However, they also champion the work of local emerging writers from Manchester. Whether they’re reading romance, comedy, tragedy or new work that breaks down traditional forms, reading with an invested and dynamic group like this, really brings the words to life. The discussions surrounding each work gives participants a space to examine their own thoughts as well as discuss the opinions other people share. It provides a more direct way of connecting with the text on a human level.
Although there are professional actors in the group, no previous experience is required. Participants are free to listen or read as much as they want. Whether people are there to learn new works, experience old classics in a different way or just meet some new faces, everyone is united in the shared enjoyment of each play. At a time when we might often feel detached from our communities and feeling connected may become more difficult, groups like this play reading club can become vital for people’s mental health and will to stay creative.