information about using this approach of the Readers Theatre Assignment, contact Dr. Ware
Directions for Readers Theatre
Your assignment is to work in small groups (approximately
4-6 students) to write and perform a Readers Theatre script based on research you have
done. Your research should come from a variety of sources, for example, library sources
including books, articles, newspapers, reliable Internet sites, interviews, observations,
as well as other sources pertinent to your topic. Six to eight good sources should be
enough to use throughout this project. When you write your script you will document your
sources parenthetically within the script and then include a Works Cited page at the end.
When you perform your script you will not need to cite your sources aloud unless that
approach works with the type of program you are presenting. The purposes of this
assignment are to encourage you to do extensive and interesting research; to improve your
integration of research sources into your writing; to stimulate your creativity; to work
effectively in a small group; and to practice your oral skills by presenting your research
and writing in a public forum.
There is no single way of creating and presenting
Readers Theatrebe creative and experiment!
Readers Theatre is a production in which oral readers help an audience to experience a
topic. It is creative oral reading.
Some Elements of Readers Theatre
Scenery and costumes are usually not used or are only suggestive.
Action and physical movement is minimized.
A narrator talking to the audience often establishes the
context and connects the various scenes together. A chorus is also an option.
A script is carried by each reader. There is no need to
memorize because readers can interpret from the script.
A continuing effort to maintain as intimate a relationship
between the audience and the readersaudience participation is a plus.
Emphasis is placed on the readers words, thus upon
ideas. The primary purpose is to make the audience thinkto be intellectually
Experimentation is welcomed.
- Length of Presentation
Your Readers Theatre production should be12-15 minutes in length. If you have
access to your own camcorder, you may videotape your production outside of class and then
show it to the rest of the class on a TV monitor. If you decide to do a live performance
in class, I will videotape the production.
Adapting Sources: The sources you can adapt are limitless. You may combine scholarly
research studies, newspapers, letters, interviews, diaries, poems, plays, short stories,
novels, essayswhatever helps you to reach your audience. Your writing will be
adaptive from sources rather than wholly creative. Originality comes from the selection
and arrangement of materials and the ways they can be used to influence the audience.
Sophistication is achieved by making effective connections, juxtapositions, and
transitions among your sources.
Developing a Script
To develop your script you must first have a focus/thesis and a purpose aimed at
your audience. You may wish to persuade, inform, entertain, make them think, or other
purposes you may devise. Then you must gather and analyze a variety of sources from which
you will select the ones that have intellectual appeal and dramatic potential.
Leslie Cooper and Melvin White in Readers Theatre Handbook (on reserve in the
Library) offer some advice about selecting and adapting sources (21-25).
Look for sources that have "evocative power" to
excite the audiences mind and emotions.
Develop interesting characters and interactions among the
characters. You may develop your own characters and their ideas based on a scholarly
source you have read and/or you may import characters that other writers have created.
The characters must be involved in some mental action
whether it be thinking and/or feeling. Conflict which is usually the foundation of
dramatic action can be with outside forces or characters or a characters own
internal psychological turmoil. Action is suggested rather than physically acted out;
therefore, the script must contain clear action that the audience can visualize through
The script must be thought-provoking, but the enriched
language should also provide an emotional experience for the audience. Poetic sound
effects such as alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, repetition can contribute memorable
The script should possess a wholeness, a sense of being
complete. Therefore, it needs to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Because your
presentation will only last 12-15 minutes, you will have to cut and adapt your sources,
perhaps condensing and telescoping events and characters to fit the time limits.
- Writing the Script
Your small group will have lots of in class time to work on writing the script,
but you may also have to devote some out of class time to this endeavor. The script should
set the scene, indicate the floor/stage plan, give the cast of characters, develop dialog
between the characters, indicate any stage directions for props and reader movements,
parenthetically document sources, and include a Works Cited page. The script should be
Directing the Production
- You may decide as a group how you want to cast and stage the
production, or you may want to select a director who can do much of the management of
these tasks for you.
While there may be some class time for rehearsing your production, you should
also plan to do some rehearsing outside of class.
Assessment of Readers Theatre Project
The script evokes a strong positive response from the audience and provides a memorable
experience. The script has a wholeness that gives the impression of a complete experience.
The story line and characters are clear and well developed. Research is thorough and well
integrated into the script. The script showed control over grammar, documentation, and
Works Cited page. The stage arrangement and readers movements are creative and
visually effective. Music, lighting, visual effects, and readers clothing are used
creatively and add to the total effect of the production. The readers make the characters
come alive by projecting distinct and realistic personalities. The readers handle their
manuscripts unobtrusively, making frequent eye contact with the audience, and keeping
their voices loud enough to be heard. The readers have projected energy that keeps the
audience interested throughout.
The script evokes a positive response from the audience, providing a memorable
experience.The script generally has a wholeness, but there may be one or two places that
need more development to give an impression of completeness. The story line and characters
are clear. Research is well done and adequately integrated into the script.The script had
an occasional problem with grammar, documentation, and Works Cited page. The stage
arrangement and readers movements are visually effective. Music, lighting, visual
effects, and readers clothing add to the total effect of the production. The readers
adequately project the various characters.The readers adequately handle their manuscripts,
making occasional eye contact with the audience, and generally keeping their voices loud
enough to be heard. The readers maintain audience interest throughout most of the
The script evokes a response from the audience, but needs a little more work in order to
provide a more memorable experience. The script needs more work in several places in order
to gain a sense of wholeness.The story line and/or characters may be a little confusing.
More research is needed and/or it needs to be more seamlessly integrated.The script had
some problems with grammar, documentation, and Works Cited pg.The stage arrangement and
readers movement have some awkward spots.Music, lighting, visual effects, and
readers clothing do not enhance the production.The readers have some difficulty
projecting the various characters.The readers may have awkward handling of the manuscripts
and/or make infrequent eye contact with the audience and/or difficulty in keeping their
voices loud enough. The readers may lose audience interest in several places during the
Teachers Reflection on Readers
After working with you for the last month, watching your
presentations, and reading your reflections, I want you to know how delighted I have been
with your work. Most of you say that you have learned so much, and I agree with you. I
want to share with you what I have learned, and Ill organize my thoughts based on
the purposes of the assignment: 1) to encourage you to do extensive and interesting
research; 2) to improve your integration of research sources into your writing; 3) to
stimulate your creativity; 4) to work effectively in a small group; 5) and to practice
your oral skills by presenting your research and writing in a public forum.
- While I stated
that six to eight good sources should be enough to use for the project, most groups went
well beyond that, with an average of 13 sources. You found quite a variety of research
materials and in a variety of places, including the following: personal interviews, CD ROM
database articles, Internet sites, popular magazines, scholarly journals, books, museums.
From your reflections, its clear that each of you became more comfortable with
research skills and also learned new in depth information about your specific topics.
- You also learned how to integrate research sources into your
scripts in many ways. The analysis of the killers in the Columbine project, the debate
between professionals about piercing, the arguments about Vietnam, the movie reviews about
Jimmy Stewart were all not only innovative, but were evidence of your attempt to go beyond
mere summary of sources in order to incorporate your critical thinking. I learned that
some topics are more conducive to critical thinking than others. Those with an argument
are generally easier to think critically about while a biography is much more difficult;
this will help me to guide students to more appropriate topics in the future.
This project definitely stimulated
creativity in a number of ways, letting various students contribute their special talents.
We had several students who clearly have a talent for acting and public speaking.
Creativity was also evident in the way the projects were designed and directed. A few
creative moments that stand out for me were the 911 call from Columbine, the great
Powerpoint visuals concerning tatooing and also Vietnam, and the poster and Harvey bunny
from the Jimmy Stewart presentation, but there were many, many more.
I learned that most people had fine
experiences working in small groups, with a few exceptions. Groups with seven were
probably a little too large, so five students is what I will aim for in the future. Most
learned that group work is a series of negotiations and sometimes compromises. Often great
individual ideas must be sacrificed in order to develop ideas that the group is satisfied
with. Individuals with strong personalities must learn to fit in with the group rather
than try to dominate it. In spite of that, leadership skills do emerge and help to forward
the projects. Ive also learned that there needs to be some designated person in each
group who will encourage shy students to become more involved. Shy students sometimes
receive lower peer evaluations because they have not voiced their opinions or contributed
enough to the group effort. Ive also learned that groups have very low tolerance for
members who are absent from meetings and subsequently lower their evaluation of those
persons. One of the problems may be that we did not have enough class time to get most of
the work completed; after hearing your suggestions, I realize that 5 weeks would be more
appropriate than 4 to complete the project. I also learned, however, that students should
spend more time in class doing the actual work rather than talking about
what they plan to do.
This project definitely helped you to
develop your oral presentation skills. Shy students commented that it was a difficult task
to get up in front of the audience, but they were able to do it because the rest of the
team was up there supporting them. I realize that in the future it might be useful to have
one peer group critique a rehearsal of another groups presentation. That might allow
for some objective feedback about the level of voices and the amount of eye contact that
is being made. From my point of view, this was the weakest feature of the presentations,
and perhaps we just needed more time to fine-tune the productions. I also realized that we
are an audience used to very sophisticated entertainment; we demand visual and audio
stimulation throughout a presentation or we become restless. Because of this, I think that
long speeches by one person are not especially effective. When the focus of attention
changes frequently, the audience seems to stay more involved. I also think that there
needs to be some minimal movements added to each production so that the readers do not sit
the entire timesome type of variety is needed.
Audience awareness is something that I
think we all learned through this project. The Columbine and piercing projects were topics
quite familiar to students in your age group; therefore, you maintained your interest in
them. The Vietnam project would have been very appealing to an audience of 45 to 55 year
olds because they lived through that controversy. The Jimmy Stewart project would have
appealed to the 45 to 75 year age group because Stewart was so popular in the
"old" movies. To help you get an understanding of where your group stands in
relationship to other groups as far as audience feedback goes, please examine the number
of students who scored your group in the following categories: Scoring was from 1
unsatisfying up to 5 very satisfying
My evaluation of the groups coincided with
your evaluations as far as the actual presentations go, but for my grading purposes, I am
also taking into consideration other factors such as the amount of research done, how the
sources were used in the script, and how the script was produced. Each group will receive
a base score that is my overall evaluation of the project. Individual scores that are
worked into your final grade, however, may vary from the group score depending on my
evaluation of your individual performance, your groups evaluation of the work you
contributed to the group effort, and your reflection on the project.
Approaches in 202
Liberal Studies | IUP English