Dramatic Interpretation and Focal Points

When you speak to a person, or pet, you tend to look towards them, if not in their eyes.  People might not maintain eye contact 100% of the time, but we do try to keep looking in the general area of whom we are speaking.  Dramatic Interpretation should be no different.  It might not look too awkward to have characters that scan the room at first, but once you remember that this person is speaking to another it does look odd.  Why is this character looking everywhere BUT the other they are talking to?  As you work on characterization and pops make use of these tips. 

  • Height. Determine character height.  Why does this matter?  Where you gaze is different when you are talking to a child verse a 6'2" adult.  Be mindful to not direct your whole face towards the ground or ceiling; a slight head tilt is all that is needed (leave the extremes to Humorous Interpretation where they are supposed to be silly).  Try to have an array of heights to add to character depth.  As always, practice the pops so you avoid tilting your head up to talk to 4" tall, boy Timmy.   
  • Placement. Not everyone will be standing directly in front of you.  Nor should everybody be looking directly in front of them as they speak.  Make use of the space to your right and left. DO keep the same direction for a character to avoid popping confusion.  
  • Narrator. A character who is talking directly to another will have a specific direction to look.  Many Dramatic Interpretation pieces have a narrator, so what about them?  If you have a character that has a monologue use that opportunity to scan the room and address the audience if appropriate. 
  • Focal Points. It is not enough just to look to your left.  You need to have precision to look as clean as possible.  Great Dramatic Interpretation performers will have trained their bodies what certain angles and directions feel like.  They can turn 45 degrees with a downward head tilt without visual roadmaps.  Some have a general idea but make use of focal points.  A focal point is a visual landmark to direct your attention towards.  For example, that red circle on the poster in the back of the classroom represents directly forwards without any head tilt, or where Martha looks.  Focal points such as a poster or plant can be good to help you on maintaining focus as you speak to another character.  However, training yourself on where to look without a visual marker (making your focal points a more abstract idea than physical) is best to avoid any confusion room changes may cause.  If you do need a concrete map then plan one out before the tournament even begins as you check your rooms.  

Dramatic Interpretations can be measured in the amount of detail a performer adds to their performance.  This little, seemingly nit-picky attention towards popping specification will add a level of polish to your piece.  By knowing exactly where to pop your transitions will be smoother, quicker, and look fantastic.  Creating focal points also helps to break the barrier that it is only you performing and improves characterization because you are defining another--even if they are not physically there.  This use of focal points will not only help you deliver a cleaner piece, but hopefully will help you deliver a higher ranking piece.