Petronilla’s presentation explored developing interpretive mnemonics as a tool for Acting students with dyslexia towards performing Shakespeare’s text.

Her presentation gave an overview of her PhD research, and described some of the case-study/action-research trials with her research participants; 12 2nd year acting degree students assessed as dyslexic who are specifically challenged in their reading and acting of Shakespeare.

Petronilla discussed the important role of reading, in presenting the ‘I, myself’ of the individual actor, and how the presence of dyslexia can inhibit the expression of self, affecting confidence and creative contributions.

Those with dyslexia have problems with decoding, word recognition, working-memory and automatisation of skills. Shakespeare’s writing contributes additional challenges with idiosyncrasies of word-use and meanings.

The research focussed on the participants’ deviation from traditional acting processes wherein the written text is the singular working source, into the utilisation of drawing, PowerPoint image slides and choreographed physical actions.

Petronilla examined the participants’ practice of constructing visual symbols, translating the alphabetic text into a parallel text comprised of semiotic signs, or expressive mark making.

She shared brief examples of the participants’ methods, with an analysis of their differing functions, culminating in a description of a pedagogical strategy which harnessed the participants’ intermodal methods in processing the text.

Emphasising the need for the development of opportunities in the curricula that can nurture a range of literacies and learning styles, this presentation aimed to stimulate ideas in supporting SpLD in teaching.

Petronilla considered how the educator’s role as an enabler (in promoting and valuing a sense of discovery and autonomy in their students with dyslexia) might contrast from the role of the vocational trainer for the professional world.

You can find out more about Petronilla’s work here.