A readers" theatre production of Mark Twain"s Personal recollections of Joan of Arc

Date

1967

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Abstract

Readers" Theatre is an increasingly popular facet of oral interpretation. Through this medium, literature of all kinds maybe shared with audiences. Finding usable material for Readers" Theatre, however, is both a challenge and a problem to directors. For this reason, a production thesis, using a Mark Twain novel for material, was presented. In this way, adaptations of suitable novels were justified as usable material for Readers" Theatre. The study established a record of the production process from selection of material to the performance of that material. Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain was chosen because of the abundant dialogue, colorful characters, and the popular basic story of the book. After the selection of material, the director researched fifteenth century France and Joan of Arc in her environment to better understand the setting and time period of the novel. In addition, the researcher analyzed the book itself and considered Mark Twain"s compelling urge to write it. With the initial background material completed, the director then cut the novel down to the required hour-and-a-half reading program. The various reasons for deletions were stated and demonstrated by examples from the text. The text itself was included in its final form. The sixth chapter of the study discussed the various steps in the production process. The aspects that are included are casting, rehearsals, costumes, lighting, movement, expenses, performance, and special problems. The study reported the various techniques used to put these steps into practice in the production of Joan of Arc. With a medium such as Readers" Theatre, in its experimentation stages, many problems arise that have no concrete answer in textbooks. The director must solve each problem as it arises in his own production. In Joan of Arc, three special problems arose: The use of locus, multiple casting, and the question of acting or reading. This study established a record of how each of the three problems was handled in this particular production. The study concluded with a summary and conclusion chapter and a bibliography. This production thesis, then, further established the use of some novels for Readers" Theatre material. The study justified especially the use of Mark Twain"s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc for such material. The thesis also recorded the production process, from selection of material to performance. As Readers" Theatre continues to grow through experimentation, records such as this will add to the existing knowledge concerning possible materials and techniques for this medium.

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