Are you anxiously awaiting "The Hunger Games" movie? Are you excited to see your favorite characters act out scenes from the novel? Well, here's some good news for you all: you don't have to wait. Just listen to The Katniss Chronicles. After one episode (heck, after one minute), you will be hooked.
The Katniss Chronicles is a group of highly talented actors who have adapted the text, giving life to Suzanne Collins' words. Combine their talent with slick sound effects and the beautiful music of Sam Cushion and you have a work of art. Executive Producer Barbra Dillon plays Katniss Everdeen, mastering the Appalachian accent and portraying our girl on fire with the same emotion and humility as the character in the book. I enjoy how Katniss' thoughts are distinguished by an almost dream-like voice, making it very easy to tell the difference between the words she speaks out loud, and her private rumination. The other characters' voices are also spot-on, sounding exactly as I imagined (even better, actually).
Other key players who make The Katniss Chronicles possible are Bryant Dillon (Staff Writer/Executive Producer), who plays Peeta with the perfect amount of boyish charm; Patrick Scott Lewis, who is the gruffy voice of Haymitch; Director/Staff Writer/Editor/Executive Producer Sam Rhodes also takes on the voices of Jayce Meshko, Greasy Sae, and the Voice of the Capitol. Working behind the scenes are Tony Caballero (Head Writer/Executive Producer), who is a professional screenwriter and Rebecca Lear, who is the Producer/Executive Producer. The full list of the cast and crew can be viewed on their website here.
The Katniss Chronicles will be broadcasting their episodes up until the movie premiere on March 23, 2012. You can see the schedule here.
One of the reasons I am gaga over these episodes is because I see the them as being a valuable classroom resource. Students who are reluctant readers and those who have learning disabilities should especially find the episodes helpful for comprehension of the text. While I have always enjoyed reading aloud important parts in the novel for my students, I cannot even come close to nailing the inflections and voices that these talented actors have. And, of course, I don't use all the sound effects, either. The episodes have a balanced mix of the text with background effects, and also bring in voices that would be naturally occurring, but not read in the text, such as the announcements at the train station. These elements will help students visualize the scenes and comprehend the story.
Try it out in your class. Play an episode for your students and ask them what they think. Here are ways you can have your students respond:
1. Discuss as a large group how they felt about: the actors who portrayed each character, the sound effects, the adaptation of the novel (was there anything they felt was left out? Anything they particularly found helpful in the adaptation?)
2. Have your students write comments on the webpages of each episode, letting the actors and producers know what they liked and/or didn't like.
3. Split your students into small groups. Have each group listen to a different episode and share with one another their thoughts. Then share with the overall group.
4. Have your students perform an episode in a podcast. Then reflect on the difficulties they faced trying to reproduce the episodes.
Share your thoughts below about The Katniss Chronicles. Have you used them in your classroom? What did you think? Do you have additional ideas for utilizing them? Please share!