Dramatisation as School Teaching Method to approach classical texts

Task of the educator, regardless of his rank in the educational hierarchy, is to be an active mediator in the full contact of the student with the aspired knowledge, provided by him. Education therefore constitutes the indubitable point of reference and meaning of the educational process, as it is structured and activated each time within its concrete frames of function.

  Based on his educational training, educational method, teaching experience, adapting the theoretical knowledge to the content  of the objective circumstances, the educator aspires, as far as possible, to transmit to his students knowledge and information, experiences and data of various fields.

  At the same time, however, he aims at the more general cultivation of the psychical and mental world of the youth using ways and methods approved by special disciplines like education and psychology and their sub-fields.

  This effort, more or less successful, is determined by factors sociologically measurable (ideology, social system, mentality, values and standards, collective horizon of expectation, etc.), who, very often, overturn the existing methodological standards and create discrepancies between what should be done and what could be achieved.

  As result, we often encounter «crisis» and «failure» not only of the educational standards in use and the special ways of training, but also of the whole educational system. One of the reasons which lead to this failure is that our youth reads and studies less and less. Books occupy more and more a marginal place in their lives.  Their contact with knowledge, either general or specific, either theoretical or practical, passes through various media intimately related to the contemporary reality of the modern world. Image, as it is projected from television and video, the screen of a monitor and comics, substitutes more and more speech. The optical text enlarges its referentiality, accompanied by a proportionate reduction of the phatically inscribed speech. The result is that the message is received in his image rather than speech dimension.

  As result, we have the gradual alienation of the youth from the books, and any image transcription of them becomes more familiar.

  It is ascertained, therefore, that, for example, the texts of the world literature and theater become less and less approached by the youth as a reading material, and their commonest contact with them is through their transcription in TV comics or serials. This fact, regardless of its value, is a non – reversible situation, due to technological progress.

  The human cultural heritage, approached by the elder through an intense personal relation with the reading of texts of the classical antiquity and renaissance humanism, romantic idealism and realistic pragmatism, runs the risk of being marginalised and gradually led to annihilation, if this new situation is not realized and necessary measures are not taken in time.

  Among those measures which will play a decisive role in the creation of another, modern approach to the works – stations in the world cultural tradition, particularly important is the conscious, systematic and valid transcription of speech texts to image texts, that is «dramatization» and «theatralization» of literature.

  This new condition of communication of the new generations with the master-pieces of the human spirit can be realized through a process of substitution of «literality» with «theatrality» of the text, that is with their reception as a spectacle rather than as a reading material.

  This new communicative relation acquires a greater importance, if it is placed within the frames of the school educational system, conceived as a field of organized transmission of knowledge and education, particularly in its first steps in elementary educational level.

  According to it, particularly the literature lessons, taught in a traditional way of approach, criticism and evaluation through valid theoretical schemes and educational methods of various origin, can be approached with a different planning, from another point of view, that of theater. That is through their transformation into dramatic texts with dialogue, action, conflicts, dramatic situations and characters. With their presentation and the incarnation of action and events by acting persons, with mechanisms and techniques drawn from the theater, based on the concept of «role playing».

  The students who in this way come in contact with not only a literary text, but also any other object of knowledge (historic event, social event, a situation in nature, etc.), are not restricted in the simple literary evaluation, the formalistic understanding or  the schematic and descriptive approach of it, but in various ways, more or less composite, proceed in its transformation into image in the classroom during the lesson. Using drama data and techniques, the teaching material is changed from a reading material into an optically received situation, which is approached sentimentally rather than intellectually by the students. The students, in their turn, approach the teaching material not in a formalistic, phaticallly descriptive, way, but they penetrate into its deeper content, into the situations and the data described, into the psychology of the persons and the motivation of their acts, in an immediate, personal and descriptive way, which contribute to the overall assimilation of the teaching material.

  In this way, any work of the world literature and dramaturgy can be intelligible and approached by all little students, which otherwise would remain (because of the above mentioned conditions) property of an elite, who could overcome the problem of reading and would create a personal contact with the work in the traditional way.

  A first group of such texts, appropriate for dramatization, is consisted of works of the classical Greek and Roman literature. No matter whether it is Aesope’s fables, Aristophanes’ comedies, the epic of Homer or Virgil, the themes drawn from Antiquity are dynamic and far-reaching. Their appropriate adaptation, based on educational and theatrical standards, can be an ideal bearer of messages of world-wide significance, since the values and the ideals propagated by them are everlasting  standards of the western civilization, demands of the human spirit all over the world:Democracy, freedom, truth, knowledge, psycho-mental equilibrium, etc.

  A second group of such works are those created from Renaissance onwards, and have been characterized «classical». Having a conceptual wealth and an artistic integrity, these works are recognized as eternal monuments of speech with exceptional artistic value,  which define the contemporary civilization. Because the works of Shakespeare and Cervantes, Goethe and Racine, Tolstoy and Brecht, which,

each one in its way, define a period and an esthetique current, can, appropriately adapted, be approached by a wide children and youth audience.

  Through dramatization, consequently, the students in the contemporary school can approach pleasantly and inductively the cultural world, the values, the standards and the ideals transmitted by such works, acquiring a unique cultural consciousness, which will help them afterwards to become persons with common collective memory.

  The one who will realize this image transcription of the text, who will lead its bearers (students), who will enliven the whole activity,  who will incite further discussions, who will stimulate the interest and the attention, so that the teaching object of the undertaking is realized, is the teacher and generally the educator who, in this way, is called upon to undertake a different new role, additional and complementary to the one he traditionally has. Accepting reality, as it has been formed in the modern post industrial society of the spectacle, transgresses the classical system of teaching, adopting contemporary data who are drawn from the wider place of the spectacle.

  With dramatization, he manages to respond to the new conditions prevailing in education, and to give new perspectives to his mission. And all this, through the profound understanding and the assimilated knowledge of theater: the existence

of dramatic text with action, plot, conflicts, characters and the image-transcription of the textually inscribed speech of the writer in concrete time and place, with the help of the theatrical role and the two way communication between actors and spectators.


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