Reader’s Theater is a great exercise to have students practice pronunciation, stress and intonation
while learning English.
Put students in groups depending on the number of characters in each script and give everyone
script. Have students read through the script silently for understanding. Stress that at this point,
they should focus on getting the gist of it.
Students should now practice reading their script aloud with their partner. After some practice,
ask students to think about what’s important when speaking or reading out loud. If needed
remind them that pronunciation, stress, rhythm and intonation can help or hinder comprehension.
Demonstrate by reading a few lines in different ways. Next, have students listen to one of the
recordings twice. Write two or three lines on the board and ask them to identify where the stress
is in each. Take time to practice pronouncing several words from the lines, like those with b/v,
s/z, d/t, sp, sts, sh, ch. Now have them listen to a recording (2-3 times), while focusing on how
words are pronounced and stressed, and how the actors use intonation. Allow students to read
their parts a few more times. If some are bored or unwilling, ask them to trade parts with another
pair. Listen to another recording. And again write some lines on the board to practice as a
group. If students appear more confident, invite a few to ‘perform’ for the group by reading their
script out loud.
Act I, Scene 5: John & Annie’s Living Room -
John and Annie are sitting on the sofa, cuddling, watching TV and having a
Annie: I’ve seen this before, I swear.
John: Well change it then, luv.
Annie: Bloody repeats… there’s never anything decent on Wednesday nights…It’s the
football, isn’t it? They don’t want to compete with the bloody football. What shall we
do then, hey, lover boy? No telly. No more nuts. No more wine.
John: Well, we could do it here, or in the greenhouse or in bed. But….
Annie: Here then. I do love you, you know
John: Whoa..hold on woman, you’re going too fast for me. There’s something I need
Annie: Not now. It can wait. It can’t be that important.
John: It is important.
Annie: I don’t need to know if the bloody lawnmower’s broken down again. Come on.
John: This is more serious. It’s something we really need to chat about.
Annie: OK, who is she?
John: Annie, luv..
Annie: What? What is it?
Annie: What have I done?
John: What do you mean, what have you done?
Annie: Don’t leave me, John, please. I thought we were so happy. You were so happy
John: Come here, you silly woman. You’re such a softie. Of course I’m not bloody
leaving you . Well not quite yet anyway, I hope.
Annie: What is it then?
John: It’s….these…They arrived today. Test results, that’s where they are, from
Skipton Royal Infirmary.
Annie: Tests? Tests for what? You didn’t tell me. Why did you need tests? What for?
What are they, John?
John: A bloody life sentence, that’s what they are.
John: I have a confession to make. Two things in my life I’ve not been straight with you
about, Annie my love
John:)..Before we got married, I booked us a honeymoon in Los Angeles, because you
told me when we were going out together that you’d always wanted to go to Hollywood.
Annie: Hollywood? What? What on earth are you talking about? We went to Brighton
for our honeymoon, remember? Hollywood?
John: Cancelled it at the last moment, luv, ‘cause I panicked about the mortgage. And
I shouldn’t have done…’cause we’d have at least been to America together by now.
Annie: It’s OK. We can still go. We can cancel Bognor Regis this summer.
Annie: And the other thing?
John: Yes, the second. Well, I had these tests you see. When I wasn’t feeling well,
remember? Two months ago? Doctor Wainright made an appointment for me at the
hospital. And here they are the results. I’m sorry Annie, what else can I say?
Annie: What are you saying, John?
John: It doesn’t look good Annie. You must be brave. It could be a matter of weeks,
Annie: No, No, I don’t believe you! NO!
Act I, Scene 8: Annie’s Living Room – Two Weeks Later
The girls just returned from the funeral and are all dressed in black. They are
sitting and chatting:
Kathy: Well, I think it’s a great idea.
Jessie: Yes, I agree. John would have loved it.
Cora: So what are you suggesting exactly?
Chris: An “artistic” calendar
Celia: What of? Churches? Famous gardens?
Ruth: Flowers? John would have loved a calendar of his favourite flowers.
Chris: Umm… Not exactly.
Kathy: What then?
Chris: Something slightly different. Slightly x-rated. Not quite what you’d call WI
Cora: What on earth is that supposed to mean?
Kathy: Marie’s going to be pissed off. She’s already decided on next year’s calendar,
“Favourite Pets”, with that hideous little dog of hers “Titch” getting December.
Annie: Can I remind you that last year’s calendar on Tea Rooms of North Yorkshire
only made 75 pounds and 60 pence – and that was pushing it. And that if we’re going
to buy a decent sofa for the hospital in memory of my John we would need to make
considerably more than that.
Chris: That’s my point.
Jessie: So what are you proposing then?
Chris: An alternative calendar, something that John suggested before he
died…Something like this! Only with us in it..
The girls react on seeing the nude magazine.
Kathy: “Big Bazookas”? What? Us? You’re mad! John really said he wanted us to
do something like this?
Annie: Well, to be truthful, I heard John’s last words too. And they weren’t exactly,
“Take your bras and panties off for me, girls!”
Chris: Words to that effect though. He wanted us to do this.
Jessie: It must have been the medication. He couldn’t really have meant.
Ruth: (grabbing the magazine from Kathy) You mean you’re asking me to pose like
Chris: Oh, for crying out loud Ruth. I’m not asking you to straddle a Harley Davidson
with all your clothes off, for heaven’s sake.
Celia: Still, you’ve got to admit it’s a bit of a leap from Favourite Pets.
Chris: Well, yes. Like I said, it’s alternative.
Chris gets up and walks into the kitchen counter. She arranges the bowl of fruit in
the alcove, bends down, removes her black coat, top and bra, and stands up
behind the fruit bowl.
Chris: There now, can anyone see my nipples?
The girls stand up and peer at her from all angles.
Chris: You see, it’ll be perfectly above board. All we’ve got to do is find the right
Kathy: Marie will never buy it, over her dead body.
Chris: Then we’ll just have to convince her, won’t we?
ACT I, Scene 10
There is a knock on the door. The girls look at each other. Lorenzo walks in.
Annie looks up. Sudden recognition.
Annie: I remember you. You’re the young Spanish lad who pushed my John’s
wheelchair in the hospital. Isn’t that right, luv?
Lorenzo: Yes, ma’am.
Chris: What are you doing here?
Lorenzo: Answering your ad.
Annie: But I thought you were a hospital orderly.
Lorenzo: That’s my day job. At night…
Chris & Annie: You’re a photographer.
Annie: Of course, John mentioned you were into the arts. Sorry, I forgot your name,
Lorenzo: Lorenzo, ma’am.
Annie: Of course, I remember now. Sit down, please, Lorenzo.
Chris: Shall I put the kettle on?
Annie: How much do you know about, well, you know? This project?
Lorenzo: Only that it should be sensitive and artistic.
Lorenzo: With low lighting too.
Annie: Yes, we are, after all, ladies over a certain age, you know. Soft focus is what we
need..like in those old films with Doris Day. But you’re too young to remember those.
Lorenzo: I’ve seen them on TNT. These days you don’t even need Vaseline or muslin
on the lens. It’s all in the editing.
Annie: I told the girls as long as we think “nude” not “naked”, with a photographer like
you, it’ll be OK.
Lorenzo: Yes, I’ll try my best to do a good job, promise. I’m sorry about your husband,
by the way I liked him. He was a decent man.
Annie: Thanks. He had kind words for you too.
Annie: I think we’ve found our photographer.
Lorenzo; But you haven’t even seen my work yet.
Annie: Trust me, I don’t need to, luv.
Chris: Welcome aboard.
Lorenzo: You’re sure you’ve got twelve women in Knapely committed to doing this?
Annie: Let’s ask them, shall we? Cora, luv? Oh, sorry Susie. Can you call your
mother, dear? Thanks. Cora? We’ve found him. Are you ready?
Annie: Cora says, “Annie, I’m fifty years old. So if I’m not going to whip them out now,
when am I?!!
Annie: Tomorrow at 6pm then. Pass the word around.
Annie: Hang on, luv…Lorenzo’s trying to say something. What’s that, luv?
Lorenzo: Tell them, no bras, at least two hours before the shoot.
Annie: Oh, right. Cora? Did you catch that? He’s saying no bras at least two hours
before the shoot. What? Well, I guess we can’t have strap marks ruining the
photographs. See you tomorrow then, luv. She’s says you’re a dirty-minded little
Chris: Well, that’s it then six tomorrow evening. Let them all hang out!
ACT II, SCENE 9: Annie’s Living Room
Jesse: The hurtful thing was that Richard didn’t even offer to come to the airport to
welcome me home. Just shows how much he missed me.
Cora: Same with Frank.
Ruth: Henry said he wished I’d had a boob and thigh job while I was there.
Cora: The bloody nerve. That’s so mean. Frank said why didn’t I stay away another
week and then he could have watched the World Cup in peace.
Chris: Rod too, seems he was provoked into spilling the beans about our sex life to
yet another journalist while we were away. He can’t claim he was fooled this time. Do
you want to hear what he said?
Chris: Four pages and the bloody cover, would you bloody believe it? Headlined:No
Sex for Mr. January. How about I don’t sleep with him any more? How about our
married life has been one big sham? How about I’ve always fantasized about
celebrities, like George Clooney. Oh bloody hell! Men, honestly!
Annie: Ssssh, that’s enough. You know it’s not true, not a word of it. He was tricked
into saying things he didn’t mean. You know he adores you. He thinks it’s brilliant what
you’ve done. We all do.
Jessie: We’ve made more than 50,000 dollars, for heaven’s sake.
Annie: Exactly, more than enough to refurbish the whole relatives’ waiting room and
we couldn’t have done it without you. Rod should be proud of that. Give him time.
This kind of thing has never happened in Knapely. It’s all new. He simply doesn’t know
how to react to it.
Cora: Frank couldn’t handle it either.Couldn’t stand it that I turned out to be a fifty year
old woman willing to show her tits for charity and not to be the typical boring Army wife
he’s been married to all these years. He told me, “It must be the bloody menopause
that’s made all of you go mad suddenly”.
Ruth: Hope you told him, no, it’s the bloody testosterone!
Cora: Funny, isn’t it?
Cora: Life. How life can change so dramatically in just one week.