The Declamation Variations

One could say Declamation is not an event widely practiced.  Some leagues offer it all season, some for special tournaments, and many leagues put restrictions on who can participate in the event (for instance, Declamation is often reserved for freshmen and sophomores).  Due to this discrimination, the rules for this event are few.  Namely, when it comes to what qualifies as a Declamation most rules come to the conclusion that any previously written (thus published) and then performed in public speech meets requirements.  With such a broad definition, venues to locate a Declamation are varied and often endless.  Here is a list of popular ways to find a piece:

  • Classic, Historical Speeches. A staple to Declamation, looking at speeches that have become memorable moments in history often lead you to well-written works that have lasted through time for a reason.  Most have a strong message, good support, wonderful rhetoric, and a powerful call to action.  They lend themselves to being performed.  Be warned though.  Try to avoid such well-known pieces you are sure to falter with everyone's own vision for the speech; or worse, the video people hold in their memories of the original speaker!  Also, be sure that the message is still relevant to today's society.
  • Commencement Speeches. These speeches are often full of empowering encouragement, warnings for turbulent trials ahead, and the promise of success if one trudges on with determination.  What makes these speeches interesting to sift through is the magnitude of who delivers them--there is practically a speaker for every mood.  Comedians, politicians, actors, activists, etc. all are the various type of people asked to deliver these speeches.  Ergo, a Declamation performer is given the chance to choose a speech with humor or one strictly serious.  The only catch is because most commencement speeches follow a similar outline, originality may be difficult to find.
  • Political Debates and Human Rights Speeches. These can be anything from a Presidential address to a public speech delivered at a rally as a call to action.  Any political or historical icons you admire?  Research them and see what public records hold of past public appearances or speeches they have done.  Check out records of historical Congressional debates as well and see if any deliberations or filibusters strike interest.   
  • Courtroom Speeches. Often at trials a lawyer will deliver an eloquent speech to save an innocent or society.  Why should you care?  Anything happening in a courtroom is documented by the Court Reporter.  Even better, these recordings are open for public access.  A good Declamation might be found in the recordings of a popular court case.
  • Eulogy. If you are looking for something a bit on the dramatic side, a eulogy could be a perfect match.  Think of some figures in history who led incredible lives, and begin locating what people had to say at their funeral.  You may even choose a figure that is controversial to add some spice to your piece.
  • Sermons. The rules state that previously delivered/published sermons are acceptable as Declamation pieces.  If you are religiously inclined this could be a great idea.  Keep in mind ANY religious sermon can be used--there is NO RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION in Forensics.  Therefore, sermon possibilities are bountiful. 

Of course, there are many other places to look for a Declamation.  A motivational speech, an awards speech, a public announcement, ANYTHING that has been performed publicly for a wide audience can qualify.  It is recommended to check your local league for specific rules on what is considered a true Declamation piece prior to even researching.  But these areas are a good place to begin your search once you know the particulars.