READER'S THEATRE PROJECT

Every season, as part of its outreach to the student community, Inland Valley Repertory Theatre aims to produce one play that is a significant piece of classic American or English literature. "What if we asked the schools what they read

before we determine the season?" In 2015 one of the IVRT company members took that question and ran with it. In what seemed like a series of extremely fortunate and well timed events, IVRT received funding from the Claremont Educational Foundation and the first IVRT Reader’s Theatre project was begun.

Jenny McGourty Riggs, English teacher at El Roble Intermediate school, stated: "The need at El Roble is to make literature come alive. Students struggle to connect with literature in today’s world."

The goal of IVRT’s Reader’s Theatre project is to enhance the language arts curriculum of the students in the 7th and

8th grades at El Roble Intermediate School, to develop the project to have a wide reach, and go into depth through curriculum connections.

On January 24, 2016, the cast of IVRT's April 2015 production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" reassembled to revisit this important play, which eighth grade students read in their

classrooms. Then on January 26, El Roble students and their parents attended a reading of the play held at the school.

Teaching artists from IVRT worked with students in an after-school drama club at the school, teaching creative thinking, improvisation, character building and other skills through games and exercises.

Last year’s Reader’s Theatre Project reached over 100 students and parents at El Roble Intermediate School. We are anxious to resume our successful Reader’s Theatre project begun last year. This year’s project is particularly exciting for us as we will include providing 100 free tickets to El Roble students to attend a performance of "Little Women, the Broadway Musical" based on the Louisa May Alcott novel, in April. According to McGourty-Riggs, Little Women is recommended reading for 7th and 8th grade.

The Reader’s Theatre activity succeeds in supporting student learning and linkages to the broader community by engaging students as participants in the creation of the art of storytelling and drama with the guidance of the IVRT teaching artists. It goes a step further by offering students a safe place in which to express themselves. Student response was very positive:

“I really learned a lot and I made connections with the teachers and students in the class. I felt very at home and accepted and understood.” 

“It’s very welcoming, fun, non-judgmental, while still learning about how to take auditions and other things.”