TRY THIS: Improving Memorization Skills

Posted on September 05, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice


Memorizing a new piece or speech is one of the least glamorous parts of forensics (next to waking up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday). People have different methods. Some folks record themselves reading it aloud and listen to it on repeat. Others try writing lines over and over until it sticks. Memorizing smaller sections then adding new ones on is another strategy. 

If you're lucky, memorizing lines comes quickly and easily to you. However, that doesn't mean some of us don't struggle with remembering tricky lines of poetry or certain statistics in an oratory. That's why this list of strategies to improve memory can be really helpful early in the season. From self affirmations, associations, and grouping to proper nutrition, mental exercises, and breathing techniques - there are plenty of ideas on how to make more room in your brain for your events.

Happy memorizing everyone!

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DISCUSS THIS: Life Changing Performances

Posted on September 04, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice


Yesterday afternoon, news broke that actor Michael Clarke Duncan had passed away due to complications from a heart attack that occurred earlier in the summer. Affectionately known as a 'gentle giant,' at over six feet tall and 315 lbs, Duncan appeared in films such as Armageddon and his voice to Kung Fu Panda. His presence was hard to miss. 

His most recognized role, however, was his breakout performance alongside Tom Hanks in The Green Mile. An adaptation of the Stephen King novel about a death row prisoner with supernatural abilities, Duncan's portrayal of the sensitive Coffey earned him numerous awards and an Oscar nomination. Though the events of the film were set during the Great Depression, it struck a nerve with modern audiences. Viewers left not only talking about the performances, but the complicated message regarding the death penalty. 

Duncan's legacy is an important one for forensics. It is proof that powerful performances find a place in our hearts and minds. It is a reminder that performances are an opportunity to entertain, educate, and spark discussion. Even if we disagree on how we would "rank" a round or even interpret a text, pieces with a message force us to go from passive viewers to active participants in the discussion. Trophies are nice. But changing someone's mind about how they see the world is so much more impressive. 

So tell us: Have you witnessed a performance that changed your outlook on the world? (It can be an interp, speaking event, or even a debate round.) Have you ever discussed the message of a topic or piece when you went home? As a competitor, what subject matters are you interested in exploring?

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TRY THIS: Interp a 'Wordless Story'

Posted on August 29, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

 TRY THIS is part of an on-going series of ideas, suggestions, experiments, and exercises coaches and competitors can utilize to expand their skill set. 


Image via BrainPickings

It's hard to do oral interp if you're not using your vocal chords. There are times, however, when we take our voices for granted. We expect all the power and emotion to come from our mouths. We shout. We laugh. We cry. We forget what our faces and bodies are doing when we're 'in the moment.' Unless we video tape ourselves or have someone point it out, our physical presence may not always be what we think it is. 

Bear Despair is a charming illustrated story that follows a bear's obsessive pursuit of its stolen teddy. There's anger! Revenge! Desperation! It's an excellent opportunity to try using your face and body to tell a wordless story. If a coach or team-mate watches, have them rank the intensity of your performance. Maybe your face isn't as expressive as you think it is. Perhaps you could have more power in your physical choices. Different circuits have requirements on the amount of movement one can use in a performance, so it is also a great chance to see how much you can convey while obeying the rules.

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WATCH THIS: Henry Rollins Discusses Resentment

Posted on August 28, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

Be it in competition or in life, it can be easy to fall into the trap of resentment. There those who "have" and those who "have not." There are those for whom winning seems to come without effort or pain. There are those who seem to have more resources and greater assistance on their path to success. That annoying old phrase, "Life isn't fair," just continues to echo. 

On its own, one could devote an entire speech to the topic of resentment. Singer, writer, performer, advocate Henry Rollins does a beautiful job of addressing the anger and frustration that comes with inequity in his Letter to a Young American. Watch the video. Maybe it speaks to your own feelings of overcoming the odds in competition, maybe it applies to your life outside of forensics, or maybe you just want an inspirational spark for the upcoming season. Hopefully you'll find it as inspiring as we do.

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USE THIS: Shakespeare Flash Mob

Posted on August 27, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice


Performances can pop up anywhere. Sure, most of ours take place in classrooms, or maybe in small theaters for showcase nights. But for folks in London this week, some iambic pentameter may sneak up in unexpected places

As part of the 2012 Festival Cultural Olympiad, running alongside the Paralympic Games, Tony Award winner Mark Rylance will be bringing "What You Will: Pop Up Shakespeare," to the streets of London. With locations being announced via Twitter, the group of 50 actors will spring up to perform selections by the bard, without costumes, sets, or props. Sound familiar? The diverse performance group includes hearing-impaired as well as physically challenged performers in celebration of the spirit of the Paralympic Games and the human condition about which Shakespeare so deftly examined.

Use this as an example of how art can (and should) happen anywhere. It's an example of how we can make something many people find boring (classical literature) something exciting and new. So if you find someone talking to a fake skull instead of a wall, or sounding more Elizabethan than extemporaneous, give them a high five for being a fellow friend of performing literature.

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