The French Play: Exploring Theatre "Re-Creatively" with Foreign Language Students

By Les Essif | Go to book overview

Introduction

Art re-creates the creative principle of things created.
Everyone can do theatre, even actors.
One can do theatre anywhere, even in a theatre. – Augusto Boal

Theatre as an art form is a survivor. In the greater community of consumers of culture, theatre has survived the accessibility, the convenience, and the technological success of the televisual, cinematic, and otherwise hyper-industrialized production of stories and images. In the academic community, a growing number of teachers and scholars treat theatre as a distinctly unique and complex academic subject. But much of the interest of both the community of spectators and the critically oriented academics has shifted from theatre as a literary form – theatre as word – to theatre as (either a potential or actual) performance: that is, to theatre as the presentation of a transformation.1 The transformation takes place on a “stage” (any designated playing space) where the dramatic text's verbal system of meaning becomes the subject of – as it is subjected to – a veritable cauldron of interdependent, overlapping sign systems, including live bodies and voices, costumes, sets, props, sound, and possibly lighting. In view of our growing awareness and orchestration of the transformation process, theatre is more alive than ever, and thanks to the equally expanding interest in active and interactive foreign language pedagogy that has paralleled the shift from page to stage, theatrical performance has the potential to revolutionize foreign-language instructional methodology.

So why is this (to my knowledge) the first book available to guide foreign language educators through the multifaceted process leading to the production of a foreign language play with their students? Frankly and simply put, it is because precious few foreign language educators specialize in the practice and art of play production per se. Primarily trained as specialists of language, literature, or culture, they do not feel sufficiently qualified to speak, act, or write as practitioners of theatre. Consequently,

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