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The UDHR as Readers' Theater Text

 
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The UDHR as Readers' Theater Text
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Laura Roskos



Joined: 10 Oct 2006
Posts: 4
Location: Cambridge, MA

Post The UDHR as Readers' Theater Text Reply with quote
In my human rights organizing work, I have frequently opened workshops by having everyone take turns reading the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights aloud—a crude form of Readers’ Theater. In this age of overwhelming electronic communication, I fear we usually skim at rapid speed rather than truly read anything. Reading aloud slows the pace so that one can sit and hold the actual words for an instant, before tying them into pre-existing story schemas. Reading aloud reminds us that the UDHR is beautiful. Voicing the actual words fills one with dignity and empowerment. In a workshop setting, this shared reading helps to break down resistance to UN-speak, a mobilization of English that somehow seems estranged from most US-ians ears. The way that I’ve done this is very simple but I think others may have refined this practice in various ways and I am eager to hear about them. What more can we do with the language of human rights to help bring it home and make it live in others?
--Laura R., Cambridge, MA
Fri Apr 20, 2007 10:40 pm View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Pat Obrien



Joined: 27 Apr 2007
Posts: 1

Post more on Lea Wood's play Reply with quote
We first used the play Laura refers to which we opened our retreat with last fall (it was so much fun really, very short and we all wore vintage hats to give us the historical touch) at the annual gathering Robin Lloyd holds in Vermont. Lea Wood is 90 now I believe, she was 89 at that gathering, and is a member of Montpelier branch of WILPF. She was formerly very active in the Santa Cruz branch for many years, and wrote short plays for many events there...I will see if Sandy Silver might get on here to elaborate on Lea's work. I think Lea used the "Reader's Theater" term as well.

At any rate, I have some experience, long past, in theater and really appreciated Lea's work and how she could express the tone and atmosphere of the historical moment in just a few carefully selected words and phrases....a true master (or mistress?) She also provides directions for lots of cue cards, so the audience can participate as well. It felt very exciting to me and everyone who participated really got into it.
Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:37 am View user's profile Send private message
Jan Maher



Joined: 28 Apr 2007
Posts: 1

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Laura, I have had students in my social studies methods course read the Constitution aloud, again, a kind of basic-level readers' theater. I've found that for most if not all of them, hearing the words aloud is often hearing/registering the words for the first time. It's much more powerful and thought-provoking than if they read independently and silently. The UDHR is a wonderful document and I will keep it in mind for similar treatment the next time I have an opportunity to teach s.s. methods. Thanks. - Jan Maher
Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:56 pm View user's profile Send private message
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