TOEFL Listening Conversation | Story Theater

TOEFL Listening Conversation | Story Theater


1.Why does the student go to see the professor?

A. To learn about the background of a director who was discussed in class

B. To ask permission to use a specific type of theater for her class assignment

C. To discuss the symbolism in a play she wants to use for her assignment

D. To find out what scenery she is allowed to use in presenting her assignment

2.Why does the professor discuss the political environment in the United States in the 1960s?

A. To compare events at that time to events that occurred in one of Stephenson’s plays

B. To suggest that the woman do additional research on that period of United States history

C. To point out why political themes are common in folk and fairy tales

D. To explain Sills’s inspiration for his first story theatre production

3.According to the professor, what does the blue light in the fairy tale called “The Blue Light” represent?

A. A plan that is impossible to follow

B. A conflict between two opposing forces

C. A solution to complex problems

D. A question that has no clear answer

4.What is the professor’s opinion about Sills’s production of The Blue Light?

A. He thinks that it was an inventive and powerful performance.

B. He believes that the use of some props would have enhanced the performance.

C. He thinks that the theme is even more relevant today than it was in the 1960s.

D. He believes that it was less effective stylistically than some of Stephenson’s plays.

5.According to the professor, what is the most important difference between Stephenson’s and Sills’s style of story theatre?

A. The actor who plays the role of the narrator plays only that role in Stephenson’s productions.

B. The actors wear elaborate costumes in Stephenson’s productions.

C. The stage settings are realistic in Stephenson’s productions.

D. Political themes are avoided in Stephenson’s productions.




  1. B
  2. D
  3. C
  4. A
  5. A



Listen to a conversation between a student and a professor of her theater class.

Student: So, Professor Baker, about our next assignmentyou talked about in class.

Professor: Yes, this time you’ll be in groups of three, each of you will have a chance to direct the other two in a short scene from a play you’ve chosen yourself.

Student: Right, and, well, I’ve been reading about story theater, and…

Professor: Ah, story theater, tell me about what you’ve read.
Student: Well, it’s a form of theater where folk or fairy tales are acted out.It was…eh, introduced, by the director Paul Sills in the 1960s.In Sills’s approach, an actor both narrates, and acts out a tale.So, like someone will appear on stage, and then will start narrating a tale, about…say a king, and then the same person will immediately switch to and start acting out the role of the king, with no props or scenery.

Professor: Sills, you know I actually saw his first story theater production in 1968, he did the fairy tale ‘the blue light’.

Student: Really, so whatever gave him the idea to produce that?

Professor: Well, as you know, back in the late 1960s, lots of people in the United States were disillusioned with the government.Sills was grappling with how to produce theater that was relevant in such times.Then he happened to read ‘the blue light’, and he realized that it had just the message he wanted.
See, in the story, a man has lost all hope as a result of the unfortunate events in his life, completely turns his life around, with the help of a magical blue light. So,the blue light in the story symbolizes a way out of seemingly unsolvable human problems.And for Sills, that light symbolized an answer to the political turmoil in the US.

Student: But weren’t you…um, audiences bother that the actors were performing on a bare stage?

Professor: Well, story theater is a departure from traditional dramatic theater with its realistic elaborate props and scenery, but Sills could make us see, say a big tall mountain through the facial expressions and body movements of the actors, and they’re telling of the story.
We were all swept up, energized by such an innovative approach to theater, even if one or two of the critics weren’t as enthusiastic.

Student: Cool, so, anyway.What I really wanted to ask, I’d love to try doing story theater for my project instead of just a scene from a traditional play.

Professor: Um, that’s possible.A short tale can be about the same length as a single scene.Which fairy tale would you do?

Student: Actually, I was reading about another director of story theater, Rack Stevenson.You know, he produces plays based on folk tales as well.Maybe I could direct one of those.

Professor: Okay, yes, Rack Stevenson.Now, Stevenson’s style’s story theater is a little different from Sills’s.He’ll use simple props, a chair will represent a mountain, but the significant difference is with the narrator.The narrator will play only that role.Let’s talk about why.


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