WATCH THIS: Celebrity Impressionist Performance of Shakespeare's Richard III

Posted on August 22, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

Think you excel at vocal distinctions when performing multiple characters? Or do you get comments that your voices sound a bit 'similar'? Celebrity impressionist Jim Meskimen has built a career off of his ability to bring characters life using his voice. In this video, he performs an excerpt from Shakespeare's Richard III and switches voices every five seconds. The distinctions are subtle yet undeniably distinct. Watch it and take notes on how he not only uses accents, but makes choices in volume, fillers, pauses, speed, rate, emphasis, pitch, and tone to create believable and distinguishable character voices.

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USE THIS: Winning the Gold in Epic Literature

Posted on August 20, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

Sadly, the title of the post isn't some clever promotional stunt for the interp vendors in the market. Or is it? (Seriously, it isn't.) 

It's been a week since we were able to tune into competitors from around the world competing in gymnastics, track and field, underwater basket-weaving and a host of other Olympic sports. There are those who will wait patiently for the summer games to return in 2016. There are others who are more than relieved to only endure the games that often. 

If you're not a fan of the current incarnation of the sporting event, maybe you would have preferred some of the earlier events the Olympics offered, such as epic literature, chamber music, water colors, and others. While the Olympics once gave medals for arts, the practice was discontinued when it was dominated by professionals (something the organizers believed went against the goals of the games). 

Today, you may not be able to win an Olympic gold medal for Duo Blocking or Source Accuracy in Extemp. You can, however, use the Olympics as an example of how our interests evolve over time. Or maybe, we should consider bringing those events back as a way to encourage the recognition of international creativity. Either way, it's fun to picture a world in which millions of people tune in to watch final rounds of forensics being played out on an international stage. Yep, that would be golden.

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USE THIS: Marshmallows and Will Power

Posted on August 17, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

 Will power. Some people have it. Some people cave in. (I'm usually the latter of the two.)

Reading about the Marshmallow Experiment (loose nickname) involving 4 year-old kids and will power, it seems that the ability to delay gratification may have benefits later in life. Forty years ago, researchers gave each child a serving of a marshmallow, a pretzel, or a cookie. The kids were told that they could eat what they were given immediately. If they waited, though, they would be given an additional treat. 

Many of them had adorable conniption fits while trying to resist the marshmallow's fluffy temptation. Many gave in after several minutes. A few were able to wait over half an hour for the researcher to return with the extra sweet. The ones who demonstrated will power as children, as the Slate article notes, became adults who were better at planning, could handle stress, and were less likely to be overweight. Best of all, researchers found that will power wasn't a magical ability, but something that can be attained. Learning to delay gratification requires strategy. 

Speakers, the Marshmallow Experiment can be a great example that illustrates the power of temptation and the benefit of will power. Interpers, check out the more detailed account in The New Yorker. Maybe you can channel the kids' reactions to temptation ("Some cover their eyes with their hands or turn around so that they can’t see the tray. Others start kicking the desk, or tug on their pigtails, or stroke the marshmallow as if it were a tiny stuffed animal.") for your next D.I.

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USE THIS: How Eating Bugs Can Save The World

Posted on August 15, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

When you're lucky, tournament hosts have a bevvy of delicious meal-time options available for your snacking. Ooey, gooey hot pizza, ice-cold drinks, maybe there's a Subway (or, GASP! a Coldstone Creamery) within walking distance of competition. Happy bellies beget happy competitors.

Or, maybe there's a vending machine that isn't broken and you can cram down 2-3 peanut butter crackers by a water fountain before Extemp prep begins. You're hungry for success, after all. This feeling is nothing new. 

However, Slate's Josh Schonwald proposes a couple of culinary items that may make the tournament vending machines more palatable in comparison. His proposal? Removing the "ick-factor" from eating insects and seaweed. 

He states, "This prejudice against eating insects—four-fifths of all known organisms on earth—is slowly starting to change. A growing number of people are beginning to recognize that bugs...may be the ultimate sustainable protein source." And while some people may embrace the abundant and nutrient-rich kelp, others are more than happy to leave it in Spongebob's backyard. He discusses not only the dietary and environmental benefits that adding insects and kelp may have, but reminds us that the other parts of the world aren't as reluctant as Americans to add small amounts of insects to their daily diet. 

By this point, some of you reading may be shaking your head and channeling Amy Winehouse with an emphatic, "No, no, no." That's okay. Despite some of the more creative challenges in reality competition, the idea of is still extreme to most Americans.

The article can still be incredibly useful for speakers. Use it as an example to discuss differences between cultures, or the creative ways in which people are discussing global sustainability. He introduces the article with a neat bit of history surrounding the lobster. Though it is considered a delicacy today, lobster was once considered disgusting and unfit to feed to prisoners more than once a week. Truly, it's an example of how time changes the opinions we hold. 

Speaking of which, did you know that October 14th is National Chocolate-Covered Insect Day? So if someone hands you some candy that day, just be sure to double check the ingredients.

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WATCH THIS: “Letter To A Playground Bully From Andrea (Age 8)” by Andrea Gibson

Posted on August 14, 2012 by Stephanie Alderdice

 WATCH THIS is a new series that presents you with videos meant to spark ideas and discussions (and in some cases – can be used for competition).

“Maybe there are cartwheels in your mouth.
Maybe your words will grow up to be gymnasts.
Maybe you have been kicking people with them on accident.” – Andrea Gibson

 You may want to cover your chin with bandages before you watch poet Andrea Gibson perform. What is amazing on paper becomes jaw-dropping when you watch her speak with vibrating passion and urgency. Though many of her poems deal with complicated topics such as gender, identity, diversity and adversity – her “Letter To A Playground Bully…” speaks to anyone who has had to cope with an unpleasant or aggressive person. Unfortunately, that may apply to more of us than we'd like to admit.

A quick search on YouTube will allow you to watch several of her performances. If you're interested in reading more of Andrea Gibson's poetry (or using it in competition), you can order her books and cds through her website, Amazon or Write Bloody Publishers



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