Re-performing news narratives in an ESL classroom in Japan through Living Newspapers

Article published in the International Association of Performing Language (IAPL) Journal, Vol 3. Pp. 1-25. Read the article in full here.

Abstract

The term “Living Newspaper” or zhivaya gazeta originated in Russia during the October Revolution of 1917. It refers to public readings of party political news for audiences in (mostly) rural locations. During the 1920s, the idea was co-opted by agit-prop theatre groups across Europe and evolved into a type of proto-documentary theatre, using news and actuality to critique cases of social and political injustice. In the 1960s, the Brazilian director, Augusto Boal, revived the form as one of many techniques to experiment with theatre for social change. In 2016, as part of a course on media cultures with ESL students at Konan Women’s University in Kobe, Japan, I explored the potential of Living Newspapers as a form of process drama towards critical media analysis. Students deconstructed “official” news accounts, questioned how news narratives are formed, and edited and performed their own Living Newspapers. In this paper, I outline the background of the Living Newspaper model, share the methodology for its use in an ESL classroom, and analyse its educational benefits.

Keywords

Living Newspaper, documentary theatre, media literacy, news narratives, post-truth politics

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