Burbank Public Library

Readers’ Theater for Teens at Burbank Public Library

Readers’ Theater has been part of the teen program at Burbank Public Library since 2010, typically featuring one or two performances per year, including during the summer. Readers’ Theater is a combination of reading and performance, since those who participate read from a script with no memorization, but with a dramatic, expressive manner, as an actor would speak the lines. While there are few props, minimal blocking, and perhaps just a hat or a scarf as a costume, Readers’ Theater is nonetheless a spectacle. Burbank teens have participated enthusiastically since the beginning, and the list of past programs includes mysteries, classics, beloved stories, science fiction, spooky stories for Hallowe’en, and adapted fairy tales.

Teen librarians, in consultation with the teens, collaborate with an actor to choose, adapt, and write the properties. The teens then rehearse and are coached in their parts to bring the production up from a group of teens standing and reading from scripts to the status of true performance art. The final performances draw a large audience, since parents, siblings, and friends are all supporters, and the event also appeals to others who are interested in experiencing reading through a different medium.

The program promotes literature and engages participants and audiences with books and reading. The text comes alive as the words are spoken with meaning and emphasis. And people who may not be stimulated by the written word are drawn in by the combination of visual and verbal art. Moreover, the program provides opportunities for teens to grow in self-confidence and poise, develop communication and leadership skills, collaborate with other teens, and work with positive and encouraging adults.