The 12th issue of SCENARIO comes with a specific Italian accent. Five articles are based on conference papers for Plot me no Plots: Theatre in University Language Teaching that took place at the University of Padua October 14-15, 2011, arranged by the Dipartmento di Lingue e Letterature Anglo-Germaniche e Slave. The organizer of the event, Fiona Dalziel, had outlined the goals of the conference in the Call for Papers as follows:
The seminar aims to give those interested in the role of theatre in university second language education the opportunity to share their research, ideas and practical experiences. These could range from the use of drama techniques such as improvisation in the communicative language classroom to full-scale production of theatrical works, and may relate to the teaching of any modern language. Participants will be able to explore the relationship between theatre and language curricula from a number of different perspectives and reflect on the power of the stage in fostering language and intercultural learning.
Nicoletta Marini-Maio (Carlisle, PA) outlines the particular setting and focus of the conference and summarizes from her perspective which aspects of theatre-based foreign language teaching and learning are highlighted by the various contributors.
The following five articles relay specific forms of theatre-based language, literature, and culture education.
In their article Looking for Henry: Improvisation and Storytelling in Foreign Language Theatre, Fiona Dalziel (Università degli Studi di Padova) and Andrea Pennacchi (Padua) describe how they adapted Shakespeare’s Henry VI (Part One) together with students of English at the University of Padua. Taking on a canonical play of this caliber is a real challenge for students, and the authors impressively retrace the different stages that led to a final performance, with particular focus on the students’ and teachers’ experiences during the process of adaptation.
In his article Stuffed Pants – Staging Full-Scale Comic Plays with Students of Italian as a Foreign Language, Filippo Fonio (Université de Grenoble) sheds light on the use of the comedy in the context of Teaching Italian as a Foreign Language. In his experience, staging comic plays particularly inspired students and got them to explore cultural-specific and also non-verbal and paralinguistic phenomena.
In Engage or Entertain? The Nature of Teacher/Participant Collaboration in Process Drama for Additional Language Teaching, Erika Piazzoli (Griffith University, Brisbane) explores the complexity of process drama. Based on her teaching experiences with both adult learners of Italian and continuing teacher education, she investigates the potential of the techniques “Teacher in Role” and “Mantle of the Expert.” In the context of drama pedagogical language education, the author critically assesses the idea of the “teacher as entertainer” and instead advocates more research to be conducted in the concept of the “teacher as an artist.”
Lorna Carson (Trinity College Dublin) approaches the focus of the conference from the perspective of language teaching and learning research. In her article The Role of Drama in Task-Based Learning: Agency, Identity and Autonomy, she theoretically investigates these three concepts within the task-based approach to foreign language teaching and learning. Following this, she connects these concepts to the evaluation of dramatic activities that were implemented in an “English for Academic Purposes” course for postgraduates at an Irish university. She concludes that dramatic activities meet the criteria of an “authentic task,” thus catering to learners’ needs and helping to support the foreign and second-language acquisition process.
Ivan Lombardi (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano) leads SCENARIO readers for the first time into digital spheres through his article From the Curtain to the Façade: Enhancing ESL/EFL Learners’ Communicative Competence through an Interactive Digital Drama. He introduces the computer game, or rather, the “digital drama” Façade that, according to his experience, can play an important role in enhancing English language competence. Based on “ludic methodology,” he demonstrates using the game in order to effectively achieve foreign language learning goals in line with the Common European Framework of Reference.
Following these five articles based on the Padua conference, the author team María Isabel Fernández García, Mercedes Ariza, Claudio Bendazzoli, Maria Giovanna Biscu, and Yvonne Grimaldi reflect on 20 years’ experience with TiLLiT (Theatre in Language and Language in Theatre) in interpreter and translator training at the University of Bologna Forlì. In their article The Effective Action of Theatre in the Educational Mapping of Linguistic and Intercultural Mediators, they refer to final student theses that demonstrate how, through their engagement with theatre-based forms, these students acquired transferable skills that played an important role in their subsequent professional lives.
This issue closes with Gabriella Caponi-Doherty’s (University College Cork) review of Dramatic Interactions: Teaching Languages, Literatures, and Cultures through Theater – Theoretical Approaches and Classroom Practices, edited by Colleen Ryan and Nicoletta Marini-Maio, and Micha Fleiner’s (Pädagogische Hochschule, Freiburg) report of a conference at the University of Graz on Drama als Methode – Theaterorientierte Unterrichtsformen in Schule und Universität (Drama as a Method – Theatre-Based Education in Schools and Universities).
As in previous times, we precede this issue with our rubric Texts Around Theatre. Again, we present a literary text, this time an excerpt from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Bildungsroman” Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship”.
We hope that this “Italian issue” provides you with new encouragement and stimulation and wish you all the best for the New Year 2013.
Manfred Schewe / Susanne Even