Dramatic Responses to a Text

Dramatic Responses to a Text:


Students are given a text to respond to. Depending on the purpose or the class this text could vary from a simple story to a full length novel. The students are then given a variety of tools to use in order to respond to the work. Each of these tools uses drama in some form as a response.

The students can respond using one of the following techniques:

Tableau: the students choose key characters and moments from the text and recreate it using their bodies. Through frozen tableau students will embody the character and the scene to create a visual representation of the work. In the case of picture/story books the students should be challenged to not recreate the illustration exactly but to find their own way to create a visual representation of the same theme or idea.

Reader’s Theatre: the students create their own script or use the text as script to create a dramatic reading of the story using only their voices. Readers theatre can be likened to a radio play. Students should be challenged to embrace the characters and find a way to represent them either through a change in their voice or a conscious change to how they speak (accent, volume, stress, rhythm and/or intonation). The text can also be enhanced through the creation of soundscapes that create environment within the students reading.

Poetry slam/Rap battles: the students create their own slam poetry or raps out of text that is found within their source material. The students should be challenged to create pieces or poetry or rap that use only words from the text. The poems can represent the narrative of the story or students can be challenged to use the rap battle setting to use the text to create an alternate narrative.

Narrated Pantomime: students uses the text of their book to create a narrated story that is illustrated through the use of pantomime. Using their bodies the students create scenes without sound to illustrate the words being read by the narrator. Again in the case of an illustrated book students should be challenged to create their own images and not to copy the illustrations exactly.


Many of the techniques of dramatic responses to text use a physicalization to embody the characters or themes of the text. In all cases the students are challenged to go beyond a surface interpretation of the text. When students dramatize a text they are required to discover their own interpretation of the work. The techniques listed above allow students to embrace and respond to text in a way that uses different literacies then simply reading and writing. Many of the examples allow students to explore their visual literacy. Dramatic repsonses to text use a multi-modal  method that allows students to respond through the five modes: visual, spatial, auditory, kinaesthetic, written/creative. The multi-modality of drama is at the core of its value as a learning tool.


  • Students can create their own poetry or raps based on the themes expressed or the specific events of their text using their own words
  • Students can create raps or poetry as the characters from their text.
  • Readers Theatre can summarize the text by presenting a movie style trailer that picks out key events of the story but presents them in a way that has a narrative arch (without any spoilers)



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