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Book Giveaway… Les Misérables: From Stage to Screen

I’ll cut to the chase: just how good—how interesting, comprehensive, and visually appealing—is this new book from Applause? Well, it covers, in its last few chapters, a movie that I really didn’t care for that much, Tom Hooper’s 2012 adaptation of Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables… and makes me suddenly much more interested in the source material and its long history. Am I full-fledged Les Mis fan now? Hardly. But if I can appreciate all the work that authors Nightingale and Palmer put into this book, imagine how genuine fans might feel.

But that actually brings up an important issue. As far as media production, transliteracies, and informational text is concerned, Les Misérables: From Stage to Screen would make a great reference addition to any library. Yet in terms of circulation—well, I’d be very careful there. That’s because it’s filled with so much sheer stuff… I’m talking posters, programs, set plans/designs, even Jean Valjean’s passport. These items are tucked into four envelopes, plus front and back cover pockets. Here’s what it all looks like: All right, so are you interested in getting this book? Great, because the publisher has generously made some copies available to Connect the Pop. Just follow these rules…

1. First, confirm that you live in the U.S. (no Canada this time–sorry). You do? Okay, then please proceed…

2. Leave a thoughtful comment here (through 11:59 pm ET April 15) on either of these topics: 1) What can young people learn about media by studying stage plays or being part of theatrical productions? 2) Why are you a Les Misérables fan?

3. If you don’t see your comment after several hours, just contact me via email or Twitter (see below).

4. I’ll email the winners, who’ll then be asked to provide (via me) their mailing addresses to the publisher. If I don’t hear back from you within 48 hours of notification, I’ll simply draw another name.

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Comments

  1. I think studying stage plays helps students learn the role that minor characters play in substituting for narration by heightening awareness of the attitudes and thinking of major characters (in how they react to the minor ones). I think it also helps clarify the power of language and word selection. As for Les Misérables, I am a big fan because there is so little in popular media that emphasizes class conflict. While one might, with no other information (or without paying attention to current American politics!), assume that such a dichotomy is an artifact of the past, it can at least heighten one’s awareness and open the path to further dialog and learning about it. And if nothing else, it has great music! :–)

  2. Jacqueline Pinn says:

    I am a Les Miserables fan because of the strength of the story. Hugo makes no attempt to make any of his characters better or worse then anyone else. They are who they are and they grow and change as the years pass and the world around them changes as well. I am also a fan because the stage play is one of the best adaptions of a work I have ever heard or seen.

    The story and music flow together so well that one is the extension of the other and not one second of the plot is lost. Plus the stage play introduced me to some of the best actors on the London and Broadway stages and made me a fan of musicals for life. Can’t go wrong with that can you?

  3. I absolutely adored Les Mis (the theater production – not the book!). I went to see it in high school with my chorus group. I distinctly remember seeing some of the “cool kids” even have tears in their eyes by the end.

    I’m a firm believer in the power of theater to teach. We are drawn into the story in ways that books and movies can’t do. I also think all students should have the chance to be on stage – at least once. The allure of a live audience, and the ability to work through stage fright – are valuable lessons.

  4. The more trite truisms about being involved in theater and applying those ethics to other pursuits in life are, for lack of a better word, true. However, what I’ve learned, more so from directing young amateurs on the community theater level than my own limited experience when I was young, is that kids more so than playing the part they play the play. What I mean by this, and this is a compliment, is that when involved in a play the young members of a cast are ensconced in the material many times for months depending on your rehearsal schedule. What happens I believe, and this is far more true when you’re dealing with material that challenges rather than placates or condescends, is that the analytical and critical faculties of children are sharpened by consistent involvement with one piece of material. This exemplifies itself through questions, jokes , general commentary on narrative minutiae that you wouldn’t really pick up on unless you were working the same scenes over and over in different phases of the rehearsal process.

    When participating in a play, especially one that’s on a volunteer basis rather than compulsory, children become part of a group that is seeking to achieve the same goal. What that goal is and means is part of what navigating the nooks and crannies of story are about. And in “learning the show” similar patterns develop: things seem disjointed, unprepared and borderline disastrous and then things come together in tech week and they’ve gotten it, or at the very least they act as if they do, they are acting after all. Similar things can be said for those crewing also.

    I think that just one play can likely sharpen critical and analytical skill when reading other pieces even if only for class and you never become a “theater kid” after a few productions the effect is exponential. Studying plays in a school can be drudgery, much more so than preparing a production, so at least you can pass, and I think some productions would definitely assist in that regard.