Literature to Life

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Literature to Life is a performance-based literacy program produced by The American Place Theatre that presents verbatim adaptations of significant American literary works and serves thousands of students and educators around the United States.[1] This educational program gives students a new form of access to literature by bringing to life the world of books with performances that create an atmosphere of discovery and spark the imagination.[2]

Literature to Life develops the engagement and academic achievement of students in public schools by fostering personal connections to their classroom curriculum through four main components: (1) professional theatrical Stage Presentations of American literature, (2) in-class theater and literacy Residency workshops, and (3) The Living Library, and (4) Professional Development workshops.

The first book performed by Literature to Life was Toni Morison's The Bluest Eye in 1994. Other books that have been adapted for Literature to Life's theatrical performances include Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Tim O'Brien The Things They Carried,[3] Richard Wright's Black Boy, Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, and Lois Lowery's The Giver.

In a time in which arts education funding is severely threatened, "[The] American Place Theatre is helping to fill this critical gap with a celebration of distinctly American stories. APT reaches some 30,000 students annually. The majority are children growing up in poverty, often with no books at home. APT has found that, after a school performance, 85 percent of students want to read or re-read the book they have watched come to life."[4]

The titles for the 2010-2011 season are Janot Diaz' The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, adapted and directed by Elise Thoron and Peri Thomas' Down These Mean Streets adapted and directed by Wynn Handman. Literature to Life's new adaptation for the 2009-2010 season was Greg Mortenson's best-selling book, Three Cups of Tea. Also, adapted and directed by Wynn Handman, the show features sixty minutes of performance from this globally important best seller. From the first heart-stopping opening moments stranded on a mountaintop, the actor brings the audience through the very intimate journey of one man’s fight against all odds to make a difference in the world.[5]

Literature to Life Awards[edit]

Every year, The American Place Theatre hosts its annual Gala, the Literature to Life Awards. The 2010 Literature to Life Awards took place on May 18, 2010; began with an adapted theatrical performance of Three Cups of Tea starring actor Curtis Nielsen; included a short video with messages from Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Literature to Life students;[6] and honored Greg Mortenson, an author and humanitarian whose story of remarkable altruism is being brought to life for students across America ... one school at a time.[7][8]


  1. ^ Ryukyu, Melesa (May 20, 2007). "Nearly 60 Years and Counting, Working on the Art of Theater". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Literature to Life: About". The American Place Theatre. Retrieved May 11, 2010. 
  3. ^ Hodara, Susan (January 29, 2010). "Asking the Whole Country to Embrace a War Story". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Power of Performance: How Theater Can Teach Kids". Retrieved June 16, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Literature to Life Roster: Three Cups of Tea". The American Place Theatre. Retrieved May 11, 2010. 
  6. ^ "2010 Gala Video". Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  7. ^ "2010 Literature to Life Awards". The American Place Theatre. Retrieved May 11, 2010. 
  8. ^ "2010 Literature to Life Awards". Broadway World. com. Retrieved May 19, 2010. 

External links[edit]