Forensics, Speech & Debate 2012


The goal of interpretive events is for students to develop creative and unique presentations taken from works of literature that would breathe life into the selection verbally and visually.

♦  Humorous Interpretation

♦  Dramatic Interpretation

♦  Duo Interpretation Preparing



*Shakespeare is a wonderful resource

*Ask others—theatre people, teachers, librarians

*Internet—search different publishers/websites

*Publisher catalogs


*Consider favorite books/stories

*Favorite movies—did they come from a WRITTEN source?

Eg. Many movies come from published Literary Classics, such as Les Miserables, Hunchback of Notre Dame.




*Find the through-line that you will interpret; on what do you want to focus?

May choose a main character or a significant scene

*Need an intro, body & ending

*Must flow – but must have conflict

*May have 150 word intro – this can be used to bring clarity or “set the stage”

*Look for words that may be conveyed visually instead of verbally

These words are good ones to consider cutting. (“She/he said” or “She leaned forward as she said”)

*End the piece with strong dialogue that can give closure.



*Must visualize where each character will be standing/where they are focused

*Must develop each character in order to see their differences/uniqueness

*Different vocal qualities – primarily focus on volume, pitch, speed, tone

*Different postures – Eg. a character may “hold” something or have a slump, etc. – have a gesture scheme for each

*Facial Qualities: Look for opportunities for reactions to the interchanges between the characters

*Vocal Content: Higher level of emotion; use volume for accents; be careful with crying

*Know their history; many things brought the characters to where they are today; if you can not find information, must make it up in order for there to be some depth to your character; In “real” life, we react/respond to everything because of our background/history – must get these characters emotionally connected to real life. Our goal is to bring a response – both mentally & emotionally.


  • The competitor will select for interpretation a non-original, published piece of literature
    from the genre of plays, prose or poetry. Media transcriptions from movies, television,
    radio or audio recordings are not allowed.
  • Interpretive presentations can be used in competition for one season only.
  • Title and author of the piece of literature must be introduced. This should take place near the be-ginning of the       presentation; may follow background information or a teaser.
  • In cutting a piece of literature for competition, changes to the author’s original words are
    NOT allowed, other than pronouns and verb tense.
  • For the duo interpretive event: participation in the piece should be balanced between the
    two speakers. They must not touch or look directly at one another; off-stage focus is appropriate.
  • Up to 150 original words may be added to the piece for the purpose of introduction.
  • Only material may be used from the selected piece of literature – no additional quotes
    from any other work is allowed.
  • No props, costumes, or visuals are allowed. No unwarranted vulgarity is permitted.
  • Limited singing and dancing is permitted, however no song lyrics taken from another
    source may be used.
  • Only feet are to touch the floor at any time.
  • No scripts, notes or prompting are allowed.
  • Scripts must be submitted at all tournaments.
  • Competitors will be penalized one rank each for exceeding the maximum time limit, for the use of scripts or notes, or for failing to introduce the title and author.
  • There is a 10 minute maximum time limit—no minimum time limit. (Audience responses, such as laughter, which may extend the time of a piece, will not penalize the speaker.)


Preparing for competition can more quickly move students up the learning curve in speech. Experience has proven these events are greatly anticipated by forensics participants for the value of sharpening skills, as well as building relationships with other presenters.

What To Expect at State Competition:  Competition is time to “put your best foot forward”. Remember, there is only one opportunity to make a good first impression on the judges. Appearance is important. Behavior is important both when presenting, and between events.

Each student will be judged by three judges.  Winners will receive awards during the awards presentation time.

Dress Code – A professional appearance is encouraged.

Girls – Suits (with skirts or pants), modest length dresses, or dress pants and tops. Tight-fitting or low-cut sweaters or tight pants are inappropriate. (No jeans, please)

Midriff should remain covered even if there is a large amount of movement during presentation. Hair should be off the face so as not to cover facial expressions, or be a distraction. Jewelry is appropriate, but nothing so large as to be a distraction.

Boys – Suits or dress pants with sweater or vest or shirts with necktie. (No jeans, please.) Hair should be off the face so as not to be a distraction, or cover facial expressions.

*During competition, when a presentation piece is completed, students should shake hands with each judge and thank them for judging.

*If choosing to observe competition in which students are not personally involved, observers should be focused on the speaker and not distract in any way. Observers may exit and enter the room between speakers.

Below are a few great examples for you & your students to view.

click one of the links below to view

Taylor Campbell || Original Oratory || First Place || NCFCA National Championship || 2011
Lauren, Parental Rights – NCFCA National 2009 – Persuasive – 2nd Place
Breana, War Child – 1st place DI NCFCA Nationals 2010
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” Duo-NCFCA Nats 2010 by Davis-Davis

Here is a list of resources we have used for our Speech & Debate involvement.   I hope they will be helpful to your teachers as well!     

Coaching a Club: Seven secrets to forming a successful speech and debate club – Kim Anderson
Beginning Public Speaking (DVD) – Teresa Moon
Beginning Public Speaking Student Workpack – Teresa Moon
Secrets of Great Communicators – Jeff Myers
As I Was Saying: A Guide to the World of Competitive Speech – Thane Rehn
The Art of Interpretation: A Study in Bringing Literature To Life – Nicholas Elledge

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