Looking for Henry: Improvisation and storytelling in foreign-language theatre

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Dalziel, Fiona
Pennacchi, Andrea
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Department of German, University College Cork
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This article describes the role of improvisation and storytelling in a student production of Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part One at Padua University. It explains why the student directing the play and language instructor chose this challenging piece and how they attempted to increase engagement with the project by involving the participants directly in text adaptation. The article explores the improvisation and storytelling activities proposed to the students, which had the aim of fostering their language competence and creating strong group dynamics while familiarising them with the play. These tasks formed the basis of the final version for performance, which consisted in a selection of the original scenes together with some novel scenes, linked together by short narratives produced by the students themselves. In describing this experience, the authors reflect on the benefits of the multidisciplinary nature of foreign language drama, where influences as diverse as Bertolt Brecht, Peter Brook and Bruce Lee can converge in a truly learner-centred approach to second language acquisition.
Dalziel, F. and Pennacchi, A. (2012) 'Looking for Henry: Improvisation and storytelling in foreign-language theatre', Scenario: A Journal of Performative Teaching, Learning, Research, VI(2), pp. 7-17. https://doi.org/10.33178/scenario.6.2.3