Dramatic Interpretation Variety

When you are competing in an event where outrageous, cartoon-bordering characters rarely exist, finding variety can be a hunt in the subtle.  Dramatic Interpretation contains characters of distinction, but you will never find the same colorful creations as you would in a Humorous Interpretation round.  This translates to using more than a kooky accent to differentiate amongst characters (actually, avoid kooky accents in Dramatic Interpretation!) as you would do in Humorous Interpretation.  And not only must you create unique characters but also unique moments in your DI.  A stagnant performance is as  compelling as non-specific characters.  Either way, a flat-line DI will be dead on arrival in a round.  As the cliché goes, variety is the spice of life.  Well, in this circumstance variety is the spice of a great Dramatic Interpretation.       

There are several ways to revive a cadaver of a DI:

  • Change the way how you view character. Merely changing where your face is pointed does not signify character.  The process is more involved and complex.  Think about your group of friends.  Every one of them has defining characteristics and mannerisms.  The characters in your Dramatic Interpretation are like that--all have special properties that make them an individual.  Go back to your character analysis and build a character from the inside out.  Define who they are as a person (what are their wants, feelings, beliefs?), ask how they look/act (how do they hold themselves? check this out for more information: http://www.forensicscommunity.com/dramaticinterpretation/dramatic-interp...), and figure out how they sound.  You are putting on a one person play and therefore you must be the whole cast through use of variation of character.
  • Work your voice. Not necessarily referring to accents for characters (that should have been figured out in the previous suggestion).  No, this relates to speaking in general.  In Dramatic Interpretation you are going to want to create vocal variation.  There is so much one can do with their voice to keep it interesting: pitch, tone, dynamics (loud and soft), pacing, pauses, carefully placed and articulate stammering, and singing are all some methods that can be used to change the sound of your voice.  All characters should sound different.  Also, as characters speak they should react and engage the material's text.  We are not monotone speakers, nor should your characters!    
  • Play with gestures. Going back to characterization, try to create character specific ticks to go with a character (if applicable and warranted).  This will help separate characters and maintain audience attention.  But something else to do is develop gestures to use in your performance.  Avoid doing the same right arm extension for all characters, for every movement.  It's rather boring to watch the same gesture being shared between three characters--let alone how inaccurate and detrimental towards characterization! 

Keeping your Dramatic Interpretation fresh and full of variety will improve the odds of captivation.  DI viewing can become laborious during the final round regardless of how brilliant the performances are.  A day full of drama will tire anyone due to the emotional strain!  However, you can counter-act this burnout effect by purposely adding variety into your Dramatic Interpretation.