Reader's Theater

Reader's Theater in the K-12 classroom.

Reader's Theater in the Classroom

What is Reader's Theater?  Some Guidelines and ideas about Reader's Theater in the Classroom.

Reader's Theater is a theatrical performance performed a by a group of readers reading a script. Reader's Theater generally has no stage movement unlike other types of theater.  The focus of Reader's Theater is on the content of the reading presented enthusiastically by the performers.

Student, Teacher, and Commercially Created Scripts

Teachers might create scripts for their students or have their students write their own scripts to theatrically present information to the class.  There are also examples of Reader's Theater scripts created by others. 

Teaching with Readers theater 

In a Reader's Theater presentation, performers (your students) read from scripts. Unlike in traditional theater, in Reader's Theater the script is generally rehearsed, but not memorized prior to production.  Many people perform Reader's Theater scripts based on the plot of a story in literature, but it could also be created from non-fiction text.  Almost all written material such as chapter books, textbooks, newspapers, journals, and written interviews could lead to a Reader's Theater script.

Writing a Reader's Theater Script for Language Arts

Teachers and their students might create a script based upon a specific book or even just a chapter that they find interesting or that needs extra review.   The writer identifies the dialogue written by the original author and shapes the play around these words.   This means that content that the author put in quotation marks will clearly find their way into the script as a characters line.  

Reader's Theater and Social Studies

To use Readers Theater with Social Studies, students could read a historical fiction novel (or chapter of a textbook) and then select one part of it to script.   Most children are not familiar enough with history to write original plays, but they can interpret scenes (or rewrite chapters) created by other authors who have carefully researched the era to be presented.

To use Reader's Theater with Science, Math, Art History

Students first read the content (text, chapter, book, etc) that the short play is going to be about.   Students then identify main ideas and vocabulary that are significant to the topic. An example script might be as simple as a play with a teacher teaching the subject to a class or perhaps a play about a study group. Characters could also be mathematical, science subject personified. examples: a talking triangle or talking stratus cloud. A famous artist might also give a description about his works and time period to provide context for the visual or performing arts material researched in class.

Ideas for Writing a Script

Use a narrator. Have the narrator give some context to the presentation by clarifying the setting (time period and location) and in by also identifying the book or chapters from a book from which the script was taken.   The narrator could introduce and describe each character.
The narrator could continuously clarify changes in the settings as well as  important actions that precede a scene.  Add to the script a description of tone of voice, gestures, or facial expressions that will aide the reader in interpreting the lines. Put them in parentheses after the character's name.

Readers Theater Scripts