GUEST POST: How to Avoid Vague Gestures in Interp

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Corey Alderdice


    You’ve probably all seen at least one interp where the performer points, waves or caresses some imaginary object every third of a second.  At that point, you are no longer watching the performance; you’re watching the performer’s hands, wondering if they are going to take flight into a fluorescent light fixture.  

     On the flip side, you have all probably seen an unfortunate competitor with their hands glued to the side of their body, just staring intensely at you with forehead veins pulsating, or worse staring at a script that they clearly don’t know. 

     Here are a few helpful tips on how to give your gestures purpose and take your performance to the next level.

  1. Give your objects weight- If you are picking something up a fifty pound weight in your piece, ensure that your audience knows how heavy it is. To help you get in the moment practice with the actual object that you are miming.  Also, don’t forget to recognize as an actor if your invisible object is wet, hot, sharp or smooth.
  1. Find unique gestures for individual characters- It can help not only build your characterization by giving each character a tick that makes sense, but it can help the judges differentiate between them. Being unable to distinguish between character pops is often times a huge criticism in Interp; just be sure that you select a gesture that makes sense for the character.  For instance, in my DI script Falling Down the Rabbit Hole, a young woman chooses to give away her baby, so she might rub her belly every time she is reminded of her baby. 
  1. Find the most powerful moments- If you move every second the movement becomes less impactful and distracting. Mark up your script and find some specific moments where you think a gesture might make a judge feel something.  A good rule of thumb is, if the gesture is appropriate for the character and script and will make an audience feel something, then use it.  If your gesture does not pass that test, then it is probably not making your piece more effective.

Clint Snyder is an accomplished playwright with over 50 scripts through various publishers.  He recently launched a line of scripts on the SpeechGeek Market called Interp Script House


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GUEST POST: Foils in Duo

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Corey Alderdice


    Duo can be one of the most rewarding events in interp; playing opposite someone else can teach you a lot about yourself.  In order to further develop the plot a characterization of a duo, it is essential that you develop the foil in it.

     It would obviously help the foil if you start by casting your duo partner as someone who is physically polar opposite from you, but this is not always possible.  The best comedic example of foil at work is Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, this play embodies the principle that foil helps drive a plot and moves an audience to feel something.  Other than casting choices, there are a few quick tips to developing foil through characterization.

  1. Find the conflict of the piece- What is at the heart of the story? Figure out what your characters want and what is preventing them from getting it.  If it is their own personalities, or the opposite character, you may find a motivation for your character that you did not even know was there. In my piece Thanksgiving Hunger Strike, two juvenile patients in an insane asylum find conflict not only with each other, but with themselves for how they became institutionalized.
  1. Develop your character’s movement- Add some unique physicality to your character that makes sense with the script. Your choices should not only be different from your own, but polar opposite your duo partner.  These choices, while seemingly insignificant, add to the conflict of the piece and make it more interesting to watch.
  1. Take risks- Nothing is more boring than an actor that does exactly what the audience would expect them to do. This is the same reason why using new material in interp is so important.  After finding your character’s motivation, have some fun with the line reading to discover new ways to make your characters conflict below a surface reading of the script.  Every interpretation is inherently different because of the different performers, but it is up to you to find a unique character that only you can create.


Clint Snyder is an accomplished playwright with over 50 scripts through various publishers.  He recently launched a line of scripts on the SpeechGeek Market called Interp Script House

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GUEST POST: How to Keep an Over-Practiced Piece Fresh

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Corey Alderdice


     Half way through the season you have probably performed your piece hundreds of times and practiced it thousands more.  By the end of the season you might find yourself completely disconnected to your script and begging your coach to do a new one. 

     Staying connected to a script is not a new struggle for actors.  For those lucky enough to make it to Broadway they can find themselves playing the same part for years, even decades.  Here are a few tips to keeping your script fresh, because if you stop caring about your performance, so will the audience.

  1. Remember the Audience- There is always a fine line in live theatre to recognizing an audience. While your first focus should always be the character(s) that you are portraying, there will always be a part of you that is recognizing when a judge is laughing, crying, or staring at you with a pencil falling out of their mouth.  Use the energy of the audience to vary your performance.  If they laugh particularly hard at a joke, give yourself a few moments before moving on.  The live aspect of each round inherently makes speech team more exciting and fun.
  1. Use different sense memories- If you are a fan of using sense memory prior to a performance have a few different ones in mind before getting into character. If you take a moment to think about it, there are undoubtedly moments in your life where you have felt the same as the driving character in your piece, but if you use the same one every time you will become numb to it. Have a different sense memory for each round.  While you should not be thinking about your sense memory while performing, sometimes it can be the needed push to get you in a place where you feel funny or emotional.
  1. Practice makes perfect- When you are practicing your piece, never go about it half-heartedly. If you fail to connect to the piece while you are practicing, then chances are you will fail to connect to it while you are performing.  Many times we justify this by saying we are just learning the lines, but you are much more likely to remember your lines if you can connect them to feelings.  If after all this you still cannot connect to the piece, it may be time to take your own advice and find another.


Clint Snyder is an accomplished playwright with over 50 scripts through various publishers.  He recently launched a line of scripts on the SpeechGeek Market called Interp Script House

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"What Do You Mean By, 'Debate Like a Girl?'"

Posted on July 02, 2014 by Stephanie Alderdice

Let's be honest. The colloquial phrase, "like a girl," hasn't been a terribly flattering one. As a kid, it was a sneering insult that made an otherwise innocuous term sound like a four-letter word.

You hit like a girl.

You run like a girl.

You fight like a girl.

It is as if doing something "like a girl," meant that the effort was less than ideal. This brilliant video from Always was recently launched tackling this rhetoric.

 Similarly, Verizon paired up with Makers to illustrate the subtle ways in which girls and young women are discouraged from expressing their curiosity and critical thinking skills. 

Many people will contend that the necessity for gender equality has passed. There aren't any rules preventing women from becoming doctors, astronauts, mothers, teachers, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, or politicians. Some may point out statistics that show a greater percentage of women enrolling in college to illustrate that everything is going great.

Except when it comes to representation in politics. Or only 3% serving as Chief Executive Officers. Oh, what about the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields? Nope, that's not too hot either.

One would think that being a highly influential leader in a public debate would mean that the content and quality of one's arguments would be the most important factor. They are, unless you happen to demonstrate some semblance emotion. Then journalists will pose the question, "Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back into the White House?"

So let's start reclaiming what it means to do things like a girl. Young women and girls can be as passionate, critical, articulate, argumentative, competitive, and successful as they want to be. There is no shortage of desire, curiosity, or talent among today's young women. That's why we're selling our "Debate Like a Girl" shirts and donating the proceeds to the Women's Debate Institute. The funds will help cover the cost of their tuition-free debate camp for high school and college aged girls. 

The shirts also give you the opportunity to start discussing the power and potential of young women in forensics and debate. Though it isn't perfect, this activity celebrates the accomplishments, intelligence, passion, charisma, and efforts of a diverse community of individuals. If someone asks you what it means to "Debate like a girl," you have your answer. 

Debating like a girl means using passion, critical thinking, logic, and strategy. How else would they do it?  

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"Debate Like a Girl" T-Shirt Fundraising Progress

Posted on July 02, 2014 by Stephanie Alderdice

For a limited time only, we're selling "Debate Like a Girl" t-shirts and donating the proceeds to the Women's Debate Institute.

The WDI hosts a tuition-free summer camp for young women in high school and college who are interested in debate. If we sell at least 100 t-shirts, it will help to cover the cost of two campers, but we'd love to sell even more! We're taking pre-orders until July 16th and the shirts will begin shipping around August 4th.

We'll update our progress bar once a day. Help us move that bar across the screen by purchasing a shirt and spreading the word to coaches, teammates, and alumni!

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