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What is Readers Theater?

y readers theater is a group technique of telling a story y readers read from a script and reading parts are divided among the readers y no memorization, costumes, blocking or special lightning is needed y the focus is on reading the text with expressive voices and gestures y making comprehending the text meaningful and fun for the student

-the character in the story that reads their assigned lines to an audience

-an assigned person that read the lines or passages which explain an action or describe a scene or character

yThe number of reader is often

determined by the number of characters in the chosen story.

Characteristics of an Interesting Readers Theater Presentation

1. The readers do not interact in the same way the actors do in a conventional play. They do not look at the persons with whom they are speaking. Instead, these readers direct their lines to the audience.

2. There is no need for props on stage, for no visual action is done. The theater is in the minds of the audience.

3. Each reader holds a copy of the selection therefore they do not need to memorize their lines.

4. When more than one reader read the lines of a character or narrator, they must speak as one. They must pronounce words in the same way and follow the same phrasing and intonation patterns. No one voice should dominate or stick out.

5. The readers must practice good moral reading guidelines such as the following:

a. Read loud enough to be heard. b. Pronounce words clearly and correctly. c. Hold the book or material properly. d. Stand erect, feet a little apart, one foot a bit

forward. e. Vary the voice for expression: volume, pitch, tone quality, speed. f. Let the face mirror what is being said. g. Look at the audience often to make them feel that you are talking to them.

6. The audience must understand what is being said so they can imagine what is happening. Their interest must be aroused so that they will eagerly follow the events up to the end.

-in the conventional way, refers to

one person telling a story (either by reading or telling it from memory) to an audience. He/she tells the story with expression using his/her voice, face, and body and some visual aids (optional) to help the audience understand and enjoy it.

The readers theater, on the other hand, has several storytellers who represent the narrator and other identified characters in the story. It is this interaction (through dialog only) which provides the heart of the readers theater.

It is also important to note that each member of the cast in the readers theater must have his/her script or selection from which he/she reads the story. No props is need except the book or copy of the story.

Interpretative Reading vs. Readers Theater

A. Similarities
y The word read. In both styles, the reader has a

script/selection which he/she reads to an audience. y Both imply drama in the words interpretative and theater. This drama however, is not enacted onstage but in the minds of the audience who listen to the story and create mental pictures of what are happening. y Both rely heavily on vocal and facial expressions.

B. Differences
Interpretative Reading
y refers to one reader s expressive

Readers Theater
y requires more than one

reading of a selection y since there is only one reader, he/she is both the reader-actor as well as the reader-narrator y stories which has only one character who recalls an unforgettable situation or reveals important ideas are good choices for interpretative reading y the reader does not read to anyone in the audience in particular, but often reads above them


y the two are separate in

readers theater

y a selection which has several

characters who interact through a fast moving dialog is best for a readers theater

y the focus of the reader is in

the audience


What is Chamber Theater?

y Chamber theater is a method of adapting literary

works to the stage using a maximal amount of the work s original text and often minimal and suggestive settings y In chamber theater, narration is included in the performed text and the narration might be played by multiple actors

The uniqueness of chamber theater lies in the dual role of each member in the cast-as an actor/actress as well as narrator.

Each participant is thus an actor/actress-narrator. An actor/actress interacts with other characters yet retains the role of narrator (author) who summarizes, describes, and explains to an audience.

y Chamber theater has more realistic costuming and

actual movement around the stage

y Readers part are typically memorized y Still is not complete stage acting and typically has

pantomimed props rather than real ones

Professor Robert S. Breen (1909-1991) introduced Chamber Theater to his Oral Interpretation Classes at Northwestern University in 1947

The skills it develops:

y creativity variety creation of vocal interpretation y use of sense memory y use of movement, gesture, posture, and facial

expression y overall clarity and entertainment value of performance

Choosing a Selection for Chamber Theater

y the choice for a chamber theater material is

often a prose narrative: a fable, a legend, modern short story, or even part of a novel. Sometimes a narrative poem is chosen.


The chamber theater and conventional play differ on the following aspects:
1. Material/Selection used. The conventional drama has for its selection a play which has expressly written for that purpose of staging. There is clear-cut delineation of which is dialog and which are stage directions. Chamber theater makes use of narrative prose or poetry, usually a tale, short story, or part of a novel.

2. Unit Presentation. In chamber theater, the units of dialog, action, and narration are presented in a dramatic form as if a part of a play. However, each actor/actress plays a dual role of actor/actress who speaks his/her lines and a narrator who says the narrative tags. Moreover, there is a formal (separate) narrator/narrators who stands with a copy in one part of the stage, reading descriptive passages necessary to the unfolding of the story. The conventional drama does not make use of this formal narrator, nor does the actor/actress play the second role of narrating. The actor s/actress s dialogs, actions, and interactions unfold the story.

3. Character Interaction. In both styles, character or actors move about freely on the acting area (stage). In chamber theater, however, the actors/actresses speak directly to one another as in a play, then turn to the audience for much of the indirect discourse (e.g., narrative tags and descriptions). It is through this latter function that the actors/actresses in the chamber theater become narrators.

4. Set, props, lightning, sound effects, etc. Both make use of appropriate props, costumes, lights, sound effects, etc., but differ in degree. Chamber theater presentations endorse minimal use of such, especially props and sets where make-believe is preferred whenever possible. In many chamber theater performances, props and sets are often imaginary except for the bare essentials of table and chairs. In fact, make-believe and simulated items are encouraged.

Characteristics of a Chamber Theater

1. A good plot.
The plot should be simple enough to be understood yet with some conflict to make it interesting. Events are often chronologically sequenced.

2. A clearly defined characterization. This is needed so that the audience can easily differentiate a personality type from another.

3. Enough dialog. There should be sufficient lines to show the interaction between the characters. This does not refer to direct dialogs enclosed in quotation marks only. The lines that explain action or feeling can also be said in the manner of dialog.

4. Scenes easy to portray on stage.

Stories with scenes that do not need so much movement (like a battle scene) or realistic props that are bulky are preferred.