Declamation Text Adjustments

More often than not the material you have selected for your Declamation piece will need to undergo alterations.  A majority of these will be made in the cutting process or in the early developments of your piece.  However, the time may arrive post-critique sheet where you realize that something in your piece does not work or could be better.  The idea of having to reformat your speech may annoy or intimidate you, but the results are well worth the effort.  If you are remodeling your Declamation, there are three things to consider for improvements:

  1. New cutting. There might be an issue with the structure of the speech.  Sometimes a cutting you thought was perfect actually isn't--and it takes the ears of judges to catch the glitch.  Most often judges will tell you where they got lost on the critique sheet, thus changes are somewhat easy to make.  Declamation is all about the flow of the speech, so your fix to this confusion will come from re-reading the trouble spot and determining what needs to be added or omitted.  Pull out your original, clean copy of the speech and think about what from that version is missing from your cutting.  Most likely you will have to add a little to your cutting for your text to make sense.  Also, do not rule out that a cut you had made elsewhere is causing the problem (two sections of the speech contradict perhaps).  Either way, read your piece thoroughly while alert to discrepancies within the text and use the clean version to rectify the differences.
  2. New Introduction. Introductions can always be improved.  Most are written within five minutes and lack pizzazz.  Try to capture the mood of the piece and be sure to have as good an attention getter/clincher as possible!  Send some time re-crafting your words to sound intelligent and to be informative.  Also, be positive of the location of your introduction.  The hook for your Declamation needs to end on a nifty line/thought and offer enough of a taste to leave your audience wanting more.  Further, work on being you.  This is the only time the audience gets to see you exposed, so be comfortable, friendly, and charming.  These simple changes can do wonders for the over-all presentation of your speech.
  3. Re-evaluate the interpretation. Interpretation should be an on-going process for anything, but it is especially important if you have altered your piece in any way.  Adding or deleting a few lines alters the tempo, gestures, dynamics, movement, basically everything you had previously established.  DO NOT create a new interpretation as you perform; unless you want to increase your odds of stumbling in the midst of speaking.  Good Declamations take practice. 

Never shy from performing any speech improvements.  Declamations should change during the season.  If a piece has not transformed over a few tournaments time then you are performing with stale material.  Your piece might be good, and drastic alterations might not be necessary, but how you view the material should grow as the season progresses.  This growth should be reflected through your presentation.