Stoa Voting Guide 2019: Wild Card Options

Stoa has released two options for the IE wild card. Let’s talk about them!

Wild Cards: Oratory Analysis and Poetry Analysis

Oratory/Poetry Analysis takes two great things and mixes them in the most awkward way possible, like pouring chocolate syrup on a Porsche. This review will end with a voting recommendation, but first, let me explain while I’ll discourage my students from competing in whichever option wins.

The first half of an analysis speech is a form of interp. It is created to be experienced, and probably to provoke an emotional response in the audience. NCFCA runs a wildcard called Oratorical Interp; other leagues have offered similar events. The goal, whether you’re presenting a speech or a poem, is to pull the audience into a work that was designed to stand on its own merits.

Neither are Good

Imagine if the only way to watch a movie in theaters was to see the director’s commentary version. That would destroy your viewing experience. If you’re a fan of the movie, you might consider the commentary, but only after experiencing the movie at least once without it. You would only consider commentary when you’re familiar enough with the original that you can observe it without experiencing or engaging with it.

Analysis only works when the audience is already familiar with the piece. One could imagine an event where speeches/poems are assigned to speakers beforehand, then the judges watch a video of the selections before the panel starts. This isn’t a good event idea, but at least it’s coherent.

Analyzing a speech or poem is a valuable activity. But being worthwhile does not mean Stoa should offer it as an event. This is why we will hopefully never have to vote on Basketball or Gardening as wildcard events.

Art Should Speak for Itself

Don’t analyze interps. Deliver your speech or your poem and let it stand on its own. Let the audience experience it. Leave the analysis for more appropriate venues, like an English Lit class.

Whatever the outcome of the vote, I recommend avoiding this event. But if you’re unconvinced and want to compete, Poetry Analysis is more justifiable. Analyzing a poem means discussing meter and pacing, and you’ll demonstrate it by saying pieces of it aloud anyway. Again, this is better done separate from the first experience of the poem, but it’s a valid part of analysis.

Oratorical Analysis, on the other hand, would be directly improved in every way by picking a lane and sticking to it: oratorical interp with no analysis, or a video of the original speech followed by limited prep analysis.

Verdict: Poetry Analysis.