What is Readers Theater?
A number of years ago I opened my mail to find an invitation to a READERS THEATER workshop at a local school, I almost tossed it. Never heard of RT, I thought. Who cares?
I was feeling pretty good about myself at the time. I’d taught Drama at both high school and university levels, directed countless productions, and was a loyal and motivated live theater patron. I’d conducted “creative drama” workshops for teachers in two countries. I’d performed live before thousands of teachers and students. I’d created a successful television series that featured storytelling and ran nationally across Canada for more than ten years.
What possible reason could there be for me to notice Readers Theater, this new kid on the block? Besides, I thought, what does theater have to do with reading? Books are for READING and theater is for ACTING. Everyone knows that.
Of course, this just goes to show how much I didn’t know…
Hitting The Readers Theater Motherload
Readers Theater is reading-aloud to communicate a story through oral interpretation rather than acting. (Sorry about that long dull sentence, but it is accurate). Readers read from a “script” and reading parts are divided among the readers. No memorization, costumes, blocking, or special lighting is needed unless you or your students want to add them. That’s totally up to you.
The basic experience doesn’t need anything more than good Readers Theater scripts and readers! The final effect is like being “live in the studio” watching Bob Hope, George Burns, and Gracie Allen read a radio play aloud. (If you’re too young to remember these folks, you’ll have to imagine your favorite radio DJ at work).
So, when I left that workshop, I realized I’d stumbled on the perfect way to use a young person’s love of “putting on a show” or “telling a story” to motivate reading and learning in the classroom.
And the best part was, this could not only be accomplished by drama teachers. A positive Readers Theater experience could be accomplished by every teacher. If you are a teacher (at any or all grade levels) who is thinking about trying READERS THEATER for the first time, I’m excited for you! YOU may not be excited yet, but I believe you will be soon!
Click Below for information about how to use Readers Theater
Readers Theater with PRIMARY GRADES
Readers Theater with INTERMEDIATE STUDENTS
Readers Theater with OLDER STUDENTS AND ADULTS
For a short, concise overview of Readers Theater, please click HERE.