Literacy Theatre (1997)

A manual constructed to involve the interaction of two to five people, a facilitator and the audience, to present the process of literacy theater`s demands of cooperation and teamwork.

The manual is divided into chapters to allow people to read the sections that interest them and to ignore the ones that don't. Because some people will choose to skip around, items that are essential to the process are repeated from chapter to chapter.

Background: For years, theatre has been used as a tool for consciousness raising, problem solving and social change. One of the first groups to develop and use the full literacy theatre process was the Family Life Division of New York Medical College in 1973, where teenagers from local high schools gathered together to present scenes from their real world. The teens were all professional actors who would explore issues presented by the audience - drugs, alcohol, health and developmental issues - and then stay in character while they dialogued with the audience. Marti Stevens, a director of Somerset County Basic Skills Program in Skowhegan, Maine, first used theatre with teens by adopting the Family Life Division model. Its effectiveness persuaded her to try it with adult educators at a northern New England Conference in New Hampshire in 1984. After that memorable experience, members of the Northern New England Social Action Group began to collaborate to learn to utilize the process to address their concerns with other adult educators and their communities. The 1985 Commission on Adult Basic Education Conference in Montreal, was the first conference at which these seasoned adult educators from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont presented, and it was at this presentation that it became clear that literacy theatre was a dynamic and effective staff training model.

Literacy theatre has shown itself to be a dynamic training technique for adult education teachers, administrators and volunteers. It explores the androgogical content of adult education - understanding adult learners and cultural differences, and being aware of a variety of teaching methods, including providing for a positive learning environment, offering opportunities for success, providing awareness of student progress and maintaining appropriate student- teacher interactions.

For copies of the document and information on theatre workshops, contact:
Art Ellison, Administrator
Bureau of Adult Education
NH Department of Education
101 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
Tel.: (603) 271-6698

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APA citation
Dorothy Oliver. Literacy Theatre 1997. Web. 3 Feb. 2023 <>
Dorothy Oliver (1997). Literacy Theatre. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from
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