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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 4:37 pm 
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People in NCFCA do it All. The. Time. I know I was guilty of it as well when I competed. It was very tempting to follow the cliches and make all my villains sneery, obnoxious, and loud. And to have my protagonists wail and weep in animated sorrow. Now that I've graduated I realize how bad these decisions probably were. It's amazing what you notice as a judge that you didn't notice as a competitor...

I honestly feel like NCFCA has developed several unfortunate patterns and cliches in the interpretive categories, particularly dramatic speeches. Soooooo many times I've seen students make their characters caricatures by focusing more on the animation and intensity and less on the development and meaning behind their characters' thoughts and actions. The crying victimized hero. The screeching, oppressive villain, intent on making everyone's (including the audience's) days positively miserable. It's tempting to follow this pattern, but I think it's time to step back and really give your acting some consideration. Yes, this is NCFCA and not a movie set or Broadway. But that's not an excuse for mediocrity when you could have greatness.

Overracting is ultimately disadvantageous and takes away from your performance in several significant ways. First, it becomes a crutch. To follow generic cliches is a way to sidestep real development and real motivations. Seeing a villain screaming bloody murder for half your speech doesn't tell me a darn thing about the character at all. It's not enough to assume your characters are villains, it's important that we need understand why. Same for heroes and protagonists for that matter. Underdeveloped characters are harder to care about. They lack form and substance. They're caricatures. Avoid that.

Furthermore, it can be grating. I saw a Open at Nats a couple days ago that was mostly shrieking and crying. It was difficult to sit through. Even worse, it didn't feel genuine. Overracting is the death of genuineness and the birth of fakery. It almost never looks honest. It almost always looks rehearsed. In front of me isn't a victim seeing a friend die a terrible death, but a student going through motions carefully rehearsed in front of a mirror. Guys, it's the definition of "scenery-chewing."

Too harsh? I don think so. Watch more movies and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

One of the elements on interp ballots references the student's ability to effectively create scenes in the audiences' minds. This element has too often been overlooked, but it is so important. The interps I always enjoyed most are the ones that looked real and felt genuine. Real pain, real love, real feelings. Not just a list of rehearsed emotions. Those interps always made me feel like I was glimpsing a scene from a film or a play. They felt PROFESSIONAL.

Sometimes there is genuine intensity and emotion supported by development and motivations. Tell-Tale Heart is an easy piece to do well because Poe helps us along the way with a fascinating character, gorgeous prose, and an intelligently terrifying portrait of descending madness. There's reality in such a story. There's truth. It's much easier to be genuine because you have all the ingredients. Sometimes intensity is called for, but only when it's provided and supported by your source material. It should never be used as an excuse to create caricatures.

The truth is, often times less is more. Most people don't remember that when practicing in front of a mirror. But it's true. There was one dramatic piece I saw at Nats that was particularly memorable because of how reserved it was. There were no sweeping animated movements. No grating villains. No screeching no crying. And what I realized when watching that piece was how much the reserved performance helped shift the focus from the performer to the performer's characters and their inner conflicts. It felt professional, it felt like a movie. And I realized how much a barrier overacting is to such empathy. Because it shifts the attention to the actor and not to what the actor is performing. Scenery-chewing.

It's time for a little more honesty...

EDIT: Looking back over this post I realize how long and ranty it is :P Hope people read it though, because this is a relatively pervasive problem in NCFCA, and I'd love to see it diminish.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 9:12 pm 
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Agreed.

Disclaimer: I'm not an interp-er.

That being said, I've watched quite a few and am close friends with some amazing interp-ers. I, just recently, saw a piece where (at once point) there is lots of screeching and screaming. Instead of evoking sadness, it had the opposite effect. I was rubbed the wrong way, and didn't want to like the character. It wasn't believable. However, later in that same piece, there was a scene where another character softly breaks down and cries. It was beautifully done, and I felt myself getting teary with said person. It looked like someone who was genuinely breaking down emotionally... and it evoked sympathy in me.

I know that judges aren't the best at catching subtlety... but I think it's worth taking the subtle route. If done right, your piece can be soooo much more impactful.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 9:27 pm 
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I am in stoa, and I definitely see this trend. But, not just in DI, I see it in almost all interps.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 2:59 am 
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I agree to an extent. Screaming and over dramatization has spoiled several duos that I have viewed. I'm not an interper either, but there is a general misconception of what should and should not be done in speeches. Obviously you don't want to be so quiet that you bore your audience and judges, but there are other ways of achieving this.

One thing to do would be to get a little interp coaching, however, this isn't available for many. I just really wish that the screaming was cut out, it is very abrasive.

As far as using the old cliches, I would love to see depth of character, but I think that that would be difficult to develop in a simple 10 minute speech, unless that speech has a relatively few amount of characters.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:19 pm 
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Interp is the wing of forensics I've coached the least, but I do have a few things to chime in, almost entirely in agreement.

When I was at Arizona State, we had a crew of superb interpers. My first year there, they won AFA-NIET in duo with an unbelievably powerful piece about an obese man and a bulimic woman who became friends. The climax of the scene, in which they said things to one another that were stunningly cruel, actually got quieter. They told me that the way they did well in interp was always by working the principle of less is more. They took a few cheap shots at interpers from California (college, keep in mind, not any of you) by saying "You can always hear them three buildings away." They then pointed out that California interpers almost never got past quarters at nationals.

The NCFCA or Stoa duos I've seen on YouTube seem almost choreographed. Most of them seem very staccato, very unnatural. By way of contrast, here's a duo two of our kids did this year that did surprisingly well -- neither of them had ever done forensics before, and Nick had never even acted in a play, but they took first place in open at Oregon State. The only part that's even moderately loud comes at 3:52 and lasts less than ten seconds. But more importantly, the pace isn't rhythmic, the posture and gestures aren't hypercontrolled; they move naturally and pace their remarks conversationally. It's not a perfect run; Nick got nervous and flubbed about three times. But in essence I think it shows some good intermediate interp skills in action.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:21 pm 
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What I always say is that you must make your characters REAL.

In humorous interp, the world that you set your characters in is often larger than life. It is an exaggeration of reality. Thus, what is "real" for a humorous interpretive is to be exaggerated and larger than life. That is not to say that this is a rule - the point is that you need to stick with the context you put your characters in.

That being said, whenever your characters are in the context of "real life" or "people are real people and not talking cats in hats," realism is imperative. It is about expressing the true nature of your character. If your character is meant to be a little "off reality" to communicate something important about the piece (like the tempters in Murder in the Cathedral), then you are acknowledging that you are "overacting" for a reason.

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