P O W E L L, W y o. - The Northwest College Forensics Department invites the public to watch a readers' theater competition Thursday, Nov. 9, in the Fagerberg Building on campus. Rounds start on the hour beginning at 4 p.m. and culminate in a final round starting at 7:30 p.m. in Room 70 of the Fagerberg Building.
Bob Becker, co-director of the Northwest College Forensics Program, said NWC is hosting the readers' theater competition as part of its 36th Annual Trapper Rendezvous Forensics Tournament held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10 and 11.
"Readers' theater has been around since the 1950s," Becker said, "but it's been awhile since we've had competition at our tournament. It takes a lot of time to write one and practice it, similar to a regular theater production. But for the viewer, it's definitely worth a trip to campus to watch or to judge."
In addition to NWC, teams from Casper College, Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne and Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff will compete.
Becker said readers' theater differs from other theater presentations in several significant but sometimes subtle ways. The readers are usually arranged in a formal straight line, seated on stools or chairs, or standing at music stands. And even though the lines are probably memorized for public performance, the characters usually appear to be reading from their scripts.
He said readers' theater emphasizes oral interpretation to a greater degree, and instead of recreating events, it attempts to suggest them in the mind's eye of the audience. Offstage focus, which is rarely used in stage plays, is the norm for readers' theater. This is a technique where performers never look directly at each other. They visualize the characters as being out beyond the audience. This method lets the audience see more nuance in the face of the interpreters and at the same time suggests to audience members that they are a part of the conversation.
Viewers won't see as many broad gestures or as much movement as in traditional theater, Becker said, but they will see the same energy and expressiveness focused intently in facial expressions.
Becker invites the public to campus during the tournament to observe or judge the readers' theater competition or any of the events. Judges can commit to hours convenient for them and are not required to judge all day. They can choose from a variety of events that includes after-dinner speakers, poetry interpretation, extemporaneous speaking, persuasive oratory, duet interpretation and parliamentary debate.
The primary component of judging individual events is simply to rank performances from best to worst. Becker said some people are hesitant to judge because they don't think they're qualified but find it quite simple and enjoyable when they do it.
To find out more about the readers' theater competition or about judging forensics, e-mail Becker or call (307) 754-6047 or toll-free at (800) 569-4692, ext. 6047.