Duo: Overview

An official event of the National Forensic League, National Catholic Forensics League, and the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association, Duo is shall we say popular? In this two-person event, the partners interpret and perform a selection from a literary work (play, poem, short story) in a ten minute time frame. Basically, Duo is almost like a theatrical duet acting piece—except for some explicit, forensic related rules. Duo pieces can either be dramatic or comedic; whichever meets the needs and strengths of the performers. Interestingly, in certain realms of forensic competition Duo is broken up into Humorous Duet Acting (HAD) and Dramatic Duet Acting (DDA), thus a comedic piece would not be contending with a dramatic work.

Duo is both a rewarding and challenging event. Rewarding in that working with a scene partner helps develop you as an actor. You learn to listen. You and your partner discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses and learn how to balance one another. Cooperation skills are a must! However, the challenge is being with a partner also means that someone else is responsible for half the work. Choosing a reliable partner is imperative. Also, if either of you are terrible communicators…FIX IT. Otherwise the piece will suffer. But the effort is well worth it when you and your partner finish performing and you two know you were both in sync.

Restrictions in Duo are specific and offer interesting obstacles to overcome. For instance, partners are not allowed to touch or look at one another. Therefore, creative blocking might be in order for any “contact” that must occur. Duo pieces can be cut in any manner but no dialogue can be added. Further, most Duo competitions expect actors to take on more than one role. This again leads to creativity. Changes in body language, voice, hand-gestures, and pantomime are some ways to signal the transformation to a new character. For comedic effect, the use of singing, emphasis on certain words, altering tone, and dancing are several ways to add variety to a piece. (For more rules and regulations, please see the Duo Rules article posted on this site).