Beginning Interp Where Do I Start?
Beginning Interp Where Do I Start?
Where Do I Start?
COACHING INTERP CAN BE THE
MOST FUN YOU’VE EVER HAD,
OR THE MOST STRESSED
YOU’VE EVER BEEN!
HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO (HOPEFULLY) GET
YOU POINTED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
First Things First – What is Interp?
Interp refers to the events that require the performer
to take on one or more personas other than his/her
own. They include:
Will be funny
Cut from a play or a book
Monologue OR multiple characters (monologues
often do not do well in this event)
Often uses “sound effects”
Requires “popping” from character to character
My two cents: Most HI is all about funny, funny, funny, with no real
desire to make a point or have a message. I struggle with this, but the
truth is the goofier/sillier/sometimes trashier you can make it, the
better it will do in competition.
Possible questions you might have…
What are sound effects?
What is popping?
Cut from a play or book
Must have some elements of drama
CAN have humorous elements (I think this is one of the
most common misconceptions about DI)
Monologue or Multiple Characters
Should use “popping” if moving from character to
character – but it is often slower and less obvious than
Performers are expected to bring the character to life by
mimicking his/her actions and movements.
My two cents: Monologues work much better in this event, but this
doesn’t mean a multiple character DI won’t do well. Also, do not be
afraid to put funny things into the DI pieces – real life is both funny and
serious, so these kinds of DIs tend to work very well on both the state and
Can be two or more characters
Cut from a play or book
Performers cannot make eye contact or touch
Can be humorous or dramatic (or both!)
Requires a lot of choreography
My two cents: Duo can be a ton of fun, but it is very difficult to
choreograph. You have be creative and make sure that the scene keeps
moving, but has a clear story-line. Some duos are all about flash and
comedy and no substance, but if you watch the DVDs of national level
duos, you will see that the ones that balance the comedy, the humor, and
the choreography are the ones that do the best.
Can be one long poem (narrative story)
Can be a program of several poems on a similar
Can be a program of several poems by the same
Uses a manuscript – cannot be used as a prop
Performer cannot move around other than slight
shifting below the waist
My two cents: The manuscript events are the most populated events in
the state. Kids think they are easy, because they get to have a book, but
learning how to balance a performance with creative use of the
manuscript can be very difficult.
Can be cut from a book or short story
Uses a manuscript (cannot be used as a prop)
Cannot move (other than slight shifting) below the
Should have a unified story-line
Can be humorous or serious (or both!)
My two cents: The best prose pieces have a little bit of everything in
them – a little humor and drama. Try to keep them as age appropriate as
possible on the middle school level, because that makes a big difference
there! On the high school level, don’t be afraid to take risks if you trust
your students to pull it off – sometimes they pay off big!
**Ask me about theblackbookdepot.com!
Is often multiple character
Stories can be taken from folk tales, legends, books,
children’s books, or various other sources
Performer can move about the stage freely
Cutting should have a clear plot and tell a complete
Student must act like each character using different
voices and body movements to delineate
My two cents: Storytelling often does very well when it is “over the top”.
Performers need to be very uninhibited and willing to take risks and be
SILLY to do this event.
Junior Division Events
These are fundamentally different than the senior division!
Duo Acting (as opposed to Duo Interp)
Two characters only
Actors can use a table and two chairs
Scene is actually acted out
Students can touch
Students can look at each other
Interp of Literature (as opposed to HI/DI)
Must have multiple characters
Students cannot move below the waist at all
Solo Acting (exists ONLY in junior division)
Can be ONE character ONLY
Students can use a table and one chair
READ, READ, READ
Though there are lots of sites out there who will have ready made
cuttings for you, you will find the most creative, freshest pieces by
reading and cutting your own.
Use amazon.com or trips to the bookstore to find fresh, new material.
Don’t be afraid to cut your own pieces. Most of you know what
makes a good story – go out and find one!
Use ready-made/used cuttings for new/novice students
Don’t be afraid to use pieces over again for kids who are just learning
Don’t be afraid to use pieces you have seen other kids doing –
especially if you think you have a kid who can do it just as well or
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – the coaches in the state with years of
experience also have years worth of pieces they may not mind letting
you borrow or at least suggestions for where to find great material
Okay – So, how do I get started?
Read the WHOLE book/play/story.
You will never know if you are getting the very most out of a piece of
literature unless you read the WHOLE thing.
Sometimes most of a cutting may come from only one chapter or part
of the book – but the overall message or point of the literature will
often be found in other parts, so you don’t want to “miss the point.”
Read with a pencil or pen in hand and mark the parts you
really, really want to include in the cutting.
Don’t cut from library books – it is so much easier to cut a piece by
writing in the book.
Mark with brackets, underline, or highlight what you want to
include. Mark EVERYTHING you want to include – even if you
know it will be WAY TOO MUCH!
If you don’t want to mark up your book, you can do the fold pages
method – but that kind of cutting is very hard to “reproduce” if you
happen to lose your eventual digital copy.
How to cut a piece - continued
Make photocopies of the parts you want to use.
Once you are done “cutting” all that you want out of the entire work,
photocopy every page you cut.
Put the photocopies pages in order the way you want the piece to
flow (this does not always mean in the order they appeared in the
Cut again, because the original cutting is probably 30 plus minutes!
Take your first timing of the piece at this point.
Once you know just how long your first real cut is, you will know how
much more you will need to pare out of the piece.
At this point you will probably already be cutting out some of your
favorite parts, but you will eventually have to sacrifice much to get
that cutting to 10 minutes!
Yes, there are more steps…
Cut more – time again – cut more - time again…
You will have to be willing to let go of even some of your most
Don’t forget you are trying to tell a PART of the story in only 10
minutes – you aren’t going to be able to tell the ENTIRE book…
If after the fourth cut (third timing) you are still over 10 minutes it’s
time to call in outside help…
If it is STILL overtime, give the cutting to a trusted
colleague to make sure it actually makes sense and have
them suggest other cuts – you may be too close to the
literature by now!
You may be able to trust a VERY experienced upperclassman with
this task – but that is rare in most beginning programs.
Making it flow…
Don’t forget you are allowed to add transitions in to
make the piece flow in a meaningful way. You cannot
WRITE parts of the piece, or paraphrase big chunks
of plot, but you can add in transitional phrases or
words to keep the cutting from being choppy.
You cannot misrepresent the author’s intent or story,
but you can re-order events if the original work told
them out of order, or if you are trying to present only
a certain part of the story and want to leave out other
parts that don’t advance your cutting.
Coaching the Performance
You can only do so much…
The students have to have faith in themselves and you.
The students have to willing to try new things – even if they think
they are “embarrassing”
The students have to be uninhibited (especially in HI, Story, and
Interp of Lit).
You have to be willing to get up and show them – even if you think it
Working with the manuscript
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box
It should be used to enhance the performance - not just sit there on
the student’s arm
There is a thin line between enhancing the performance and using it
as a prop – find that line and push your student right up to it.
Popping and Voices
In HI, pops should be clean and FAST
In DI, they are more subtle and more like a “melding”
Should include foot placement and stance or position
Have students practice in front of a full-length mirror
MUST BE CONSISTENT
Dialect tapes are very helpful with this
If they are mimicking a celebrity, they should watch that person on
YouTube or the Internet as much as possible until they get the voice
Voices for different characters should also be consistent and change
with the pops…
I have my students highlight the different characters with different
colors, which cues them mentally to change their voice and their
stance when the color changes (this works great for HI and Interp of
Last bit of advice… Your best resources are
With membership you can get FREE videos of this past year’s national
final rounds in Duo, HI, and DI – I cannot tell you how much this
resource alone has helped my students
Every chance you get, you should be watching rounds
(especially if you are new) and your students should be
watching rounds to get ideas for new pieces
Even if you don’t want to do a piece that someone has already done,
chances are that author has written other things that are also good…
Online cutting stores like Speech Geek; Tibetan Tree Frog;
Mushroom Cloud Press; and Brooklyn Publishers
These pieces are usually quality, but remember anyone/everyone else
can get to them, too!
YouTube is also a great resource for finding tapes of
performances or great poetry that you can put into programs
for your students.
Stay away from
Forensic cutting membership services like
4N6fanatics.com – they are never as good as what
they promise and you will simply waste time and
money trying to find new pieces there.
Truth is you may spend a lot of money on dud books, too… I
can’t tell you how often that happened and still happens to me,
which is why I like going to actual bookstores or amazon.com
where I can actually read part of the book to see if it is worth
This has been a lot to take in… If you have questions I
did not answer or get to email me or my assistant Bill
Thompson anytime at:
You can also get help and advice from any of these
(NFL Chair; KHSSL Board Member)
(KHSSL Board Chair)
(Bill Cooper, KHSSL Director)