Readers’ Theatre

Readers’ Theatre is a form of theatre that emphasises the text or script over production.  While there are a few professional Readers’ Theatre companies, we were inspired to use this form of theatre by its use in communicating historical information to the public.  We first came across this use of Readers’ Theatre in a book chapter written by Lorraine McConaghy of the Seattle Museum of History and Industry:

McConaghy, Lorraine. “Performance/Participation: A Museum Case Study in Participatory Theatre.”  Chapter in Living with Stories: Telling, Re-Telling, and Remembering. Ed. William Schneider. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2008.

As part of our original research project (Theology and Therapy), we  collected 18 oral history interviews with people key to the development of counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  We chose the 9 interviews that were most narrative in structure and for which religion and spirituality were most central to their life stories.  We then edited down the transcripts for each of these interviews from 1.5 hours worth of interview to 5 minutes worth of monologue.  The resulting monologues were approximately 99% in the interviewees’ own words.

After gaining an intimate knowledge of these 9 interview transcripts through working with them as monologues for several months in 2012, research fellow Alette Willis, put together a full 2-part script, bringing the interviewees into a virtual dialogue.  This script was used in most of the workshops held in 2013.

A final part (Part III) was added for the full-day workshop.  Part III of the script was based on recordings of discussions that took place in previous workshops and represents some of the attitudes and concerns contemporary counsellors have towards spirituality and faith.

The scripts can be downloaded here: Scripts

In preparing our own Readers’ Theatre the two books we found most helpful were:

Kaye, Marvin, ed. Reader’s Theatre. Newark, NJ: Wildside Press, 1995.

Maher, Jan. Most Dangerous Women: Bringing History to Life through Readers’ Theatre. Portsmouth, NH: Heineman, 2006.