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CEA Forum, v35 n2 Sum-Fall 2006

The primary pedagogical principle of Reader's Theatre is that it "dramatizes" literature to provide both a visual and an oral stimulus for students who may be unaccustomed to using their imagination to experience literary works like novels, poems, essays, or short stories. Promoting a suggestive, "theatrical mind" approach to classroom performance of literature is an exciting discipline, relying as it does on the perspective that to "see" literature is as stimulating as to read literature aloud. In addition, basic Reader's Theatre conventions at play in classroom performance give unexpected life and meaning to an oral interpretation of the literary experience described by the author's words. Reader's Theatre also stimulates student listeners to actively participate in the aesthetic, emotional, and intellectual content of a literary text when it is dramatized in a classroom performance. As critical as literary analysis may be in understanding a text, it is the inherent theatrical impulse Reader's Theatre brings to the selection, staging, and performance of classroom literature that is most likely to result in a student's active engagement in the interpretation of a text. It is important, therefore, to promote a risk-free classroom environment in which students can experiment with a literary text to more fully realize its performance potential. Reader's Theatre discoveries made in classroom performance activities should also help to cement the foundational building blocks needed to encourage students to pursue a theatrical as well as an analytical approach to visualizing literary texts.

Descriptors: Theater Arts, Oral Interpretation, Literature, Performance Factors, Literary Genres, Poetry, Novels, Class Activities, Reading Aloud to Others, Scripts, Movement Education, Reading Material Selection

College English Association. Web site:

Autor: Ratliff, Gerald Lee


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