Photos from our Readers’ Theatre

Tuesday evening, we had our annual Readers’ Theatre – this year a re-incarnation of the Pink Panther.  We had the audience rolling in laughter. A Readers’ Theatre is just like any other show except the actors read the lines instead of memorizing them. It leads to very amusing situations when Jacques Clouseau says things like, “Wait, I can’t find my line” or when Javis, dancing the tango with Clouseau, can’t read the script because Clouseau is pushing his arm up and down.

A Readers’ Theatre is a great experience and a lot of fun. Here’s a glimpse of what ours looked like. (All photos courtesy of Jonathan Steffan.)

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Our Annual Readers’ Theatre

One of the major units of my Intro to Theatre Arts class is a readers’ theatre which the entire class has to produce. The script doesn’t need to be memorized, but the story needs to “pop” on stage as if it is memorized. A staged reading might be a synonym for what we do. We use the stage. We have motion, action, fight-scenes, you name it! It’s a real theatrical show with everything you would expect – except for the lines aren’t memorized.

We’re producing The Pink Panther this year. As you know, I do mostly original dramas at our school, but during the readers’ theatre, I like to do well known scripts to mix it up a little. Here’s what we did the past few years:

2013 “Pillow Talk”

2014 “Arsenic & Old Lace”

2015 “M*A*S*H”

2016 “The Pink Panther”

Another thing I insist on in our readers’ theatre is that the students are responsible for every aspect of the production. Student directed and student produced. I serve in advisory role as Executive Producer, collecting the big bucks but not doing any of the work.

Here’s our fearless cast:

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Clueless Clouseau

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Doing a timed read-through.

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The actors and readers.

Our Latest Readers’ Theatre

We had a ton of fun last night putting on our third annual readers’ theatre – this time our rendition of the famous 4077th in South Korea!

2015-03-23 16.03.09If you’ve never attended a Readers’ Theatre, it’s a fun and unique event. We like to go all out – unique staging (our stage was 40 feet long and 8 feet wide with seats on both sides of it) – relaxed atmosphere (the actors mingle in character with the audience before the show and at intermission) – full costumes and props – PLUS scripts in their hands. That’s the most unique part of a readers’ theatre – the actors don’t memorize the lines. They read them, but in character as best as possible.

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It may seem strange at first to have an actor walk around with a script. But actually, once the story gets rolling the audience doesn’t even realize it anymore. The flow is great and the script just becomes another tool in the hands of the actors.

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We had a wonderful time re-creating the wacky 4077th. The audience loved it and my theatre arts students got some great hands-on experience in producing a show. They directed, promoted, and produced the entire production with little feedback and input from me – whom I self-appointed as executive producer. (basically does nothing, just receives a check – which of course I never received).

I love the readers’ theatre format.  A relaxed and fun way to put on a show and get some great experiences.

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Ever Try a Readers’ Theatre?

I have now been part of two Readers’ Theatre Productions.

What’s a Readers’ Theatre? It is as it sounds. The actors have scripts in their hands and read the play aloud, using vocal inflections and limited movement to replicate the emotion of a dramatic production.

Or at least that’s how most Readers’ Theatres are described. Not ours. Last year we did “Pillow Talk” and this year “Arsenic & Old Lace”. But our production is not a bunch of stuffy people reading in front of microphones.

We like to go all out. Here’s a picture of our really cool set. We had the audience on two sides. You’ll notice the chairs in the background are actually on the actual stage, which we didn’t use. We set up the stage in the middle of our facility to make a close, intimate production.

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We use costumes and props and the whole works. Whatever a normal dramatic production has, we have it also. The only part that is different is that my actors haven’t memorized their lines. They read them with script in hand.

Why would we do a Readers’ Theatre instead of a regular production? Most of my actors in this show had never acted before. Plus, there wasn’t sufficient time to memorize. And when that is the case, a readers’ theatre is an excellent alternative.

Actually, this entire show was student directed and produced. I was only the executive producer, receiving the fat pay check but doing all of the work. (BTW, the paycheck was me making chocolate cake and bringing it for the after party.

So in our show, the actors do everything they possibly can to fulfill the desires of the playwright – and they do it all with a script in their hands.

You might wonder if the audience is distracted by the script.

Actually, no. Once the story starts flowing, the script becomes just another prop. It fades into the background and is no longer noticed.

A readers’ theatre is an excellent alternative to a traditional theatrical performance. I recommend you give it a try. Last nights audience would concur. We filled all 145 of our seats and a good time was had by all.