Selecting an Interp Piece? Ask These Four Questions.
You’ve decided to do an interp. Now what?
Selecting an interp piece is tricky. Since the number of stories you could tell is endless, finding the right one takes time and effort. I’ve been through this process dozens of times, and it remains one of hardest parts of the speech event. To make things easier, use these four questions as a guide.
1: “Is it Concise?”
You only have a handful of minutes to communicate an entire storyline. That’s not a lot of time. Every interp piece – whether humorous or dramatic in style – needs a plot line with a definitive beginning, middle, and end. No exceptions.
Keep an eye out for stories with clearly identifiable narratives. Ask yourself: “Can I explain the entire storyline in one or two sentences?” If not, keep looking. You don’t have to narrow your focus merely to short stories, children’s books, or pre-written scripts – although these are valid options. Concise doesn’t mean that the story has to itself be short and simple, but it at least means that you can make it short and simple. If you do choose a longer piece, explore a single plot line within it.
2: “Is it Suitable?”
As the presenter of the story, you also have to ask if the story fits you. How easy it is for the audience to believe your performance will determine their level of engagement. For instance, if you’re a 12-year old attempting to portray a middle-aged woman, ask yourself if you are capable of performing that role convincingly. If not, the audience will forever be distracted by the chasm between actor and character. This barrier obstructs the audience’s engagement with the piece.
What is suitable depends entirely on who you are and what your acting capabilities are. Ask yourself: “Can my audience picture me as these characters in this setting?” This still gives you an opportunity for physical and vocal characterization and preserves the audience’s ability to believe in your performance.
3: “Is it Compelling?”
Carrying the same emotional intensity throughout an entire performance is monotonous. Watch out for narratives that only explore a minute section of a plot or a sole moment in time. While these stories can be fun to think about and analyze, they make for a monotonous interp performance. Ask yourself: “Can I identify at least three different emotional states that the characters in my piece experience?” Nothing is more compelling than an emotionally dynamic piece.
4: “Is it Relevant?”
Who’s judging you? Your peers or grown adults? (Hint: it’s the second one.)
If you want your judges to laugh at your character’s jokes or cry at your character’s tragedy, the themes or content in your story must be relatable. Don’t just write stories that your friends find funny or interesting. Ask yourself: “Is this story something my judges will connect with?” Test your piece on your parents and other parents from your club. They’re going to be the same demographic judging you, so their response is especially helpful. Using a mature and developed narrative will only make you a stronger competitor.
These four tips should guide you in the early stages of your interp. Next time, we’ll explore piece-selection strategies for each specific interp event.
Looking for one-on-one interp training? Book a session with Coach Leah and you can get started.