chapter  5
11 Pages

Reconstructing and deconstructing: drama texts in the classroom

Fewlanguageteachersneedremindingthatthetypicalexperience learnershaveofthedramaofthetargetlanguageisasdramatexts, ratherthanasplaysinperformance.ThishasbeenoneofShort's mainjustificationsforanalysingdramatextratherthanplaysin performance(Short1981;1989).Indeed,theEFL/ESLworldin manycaseshasgotitselfintoasituationwherestudentseitherdo dramaasmeaningfullanguage-learningactivity(thatistosay,they createandimprovise)orelsetheystudythetextsofplaysas'literature'.Therobusttraditioninlanguageteachingoftwoorthree decadesago,ofgettingstudentstoperformfamousplaysasend-oftermproductions,seemstohavetakenthirdplacetothemore 'meaningful'activitiesofself-expression,analysisandinterpretation.Thisisnottocriticisetheexcellentproductsofthe

90Language,Liter

drama-as-self-expressiontrend(e.g.Maley1982;Hayes1984; Dougill1987),nortosuggestthatthedrama-as-literatureapproach (referredtoingreaterdetailbelow)necessarilygoestoofarthe otherway.Bothservetheendsoflanguagelearningandgreater understandingandappreciationofthesignificanceofdramain theirdifferentways.Althoughthepresentpaperwillleantowards thedrama-as-literatureendofthescale,itwillofferactivitiesthat attempttoengagetheanalyticalabilitiesandthecreativityof studentsandgivethemachancetodoabitofperformance,based onboththeirownandfamousdramatists'scripts.AssuchIam attemptingtogetthebestofallthreeworlds,and,aswithallcompositeproposals,itmaylosesomethingfromitsthreespringsas theymergeintothereal-timeflowofactivityintheclassroom.