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Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Nuts and Bolts: cue scripts.

 Okay, so you've written a play, and now you're heading towards your first rehearsal.

What do you need?

A place to meet and a script, of course. In fact, several scripts. At least one-between-two for the number of actors involved.

All right. 

Now, the problem is that you have no photocopier or printer. You don't even have a typewriter. You have someone who'll copy out the scripts, but it'll take too long - and cost you too much - for him to copy it out a dozen times. So what do you do? 

You produce cue scripts.

A cue script consists of all the lines one particular actor has to say, and, as well, the line that acts as a cue for each speech.

This has its advantages. It means that actors are forced to listen carefully to what the other actors say, which is a real help in making a piece come to life.

Now, if you're thinking what kind of amateurs would use a system like that? Or, but doesn't everyone have a printer? then may I introduce you to one W Shakespeare, who had neither photocopier nor electric printer, and so used the cue script system. 

How do we know? Because of a mistake an amateur actor makes in a play rehearsal scene in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Here's a bit of the scene:


Must I speak now?


Ay, marry, must you; for you must understand he goes but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come again.


“Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,

Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier,

Most brisky juvenal, and eke most lovely Jew,

As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire,

I’ll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny’s tomb.”


“Ninus’ tomb,” man. Why, you must not speak that yet. That you answer to Pyramus. You speak all your part at once, cues and all. Pyramus, enter. Your cue is past; it is “never tire.”


O—“As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire.”


Poor Flute! He's a bellow's-mender by trade, and he's been bullied into playing the female role of Thisbe, for which he considers himself far too grown-up.

And poor Quince, too. 

I wonder if Shakespeare played Quince himself? 

There's certainly real feeling behind his words.

Nuts and Bolts: cue scripts. The word cue appeared in English in the 1500s. It's probably the same word as the letter q, which was used in actors' scripts and in that case stood for the Latin word quando, which means when.

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