What Makes a Great Partner

Finding the perfect script for a Duo or Duet is one of the main reasons behind competitive success. Cutting, blocking, appropriate casting, and other factors also influence a piece’s performance. However, a great partnership is arguably the most important ingredient for Duo victory. Without a solid working relationship, or even presumed chemistry between actors, little of the previously mentioned elements matter. But what makes for a fantastic partner?


One of the first questions to ask is that of availability. What is the other person’s schedule, and is it conflicting? A major cause of partner problems is that of not having time to practice. If two people’s schedules simply make it near impossible to have the availability to work together to improve a piece, then this particular partnership is most likely not worth pursuing. After the initial piece searching, cutting, memorization, blocking, etc. stage a Duo should meet at least once a week for an hour (minimum!) to rehearse, experiment towards enhancement, and review critiques. Availability also includes mental involvement. When one partner is Duo-centric, and the other is more focused on their Humorous Interpretation, then arguments are almost certain.

Work Ethic/Style

Friends might enter a Duo partnership, but when practice begins the time should be spent working. Of course laughter and such is unavoidable and even encouraged to bond, but a majority of rehearsal should be spent evaluating the piece. When two people work together with different work ethics and styles it can be constructive. To a degree. Learning from the other’s approach to working (utmost serious, focused goofball, highly detailed/organized, orderly chaos, and so on) can be beneficial and prevent a Duo from becoming stagnant. But, when two individuals differ vastly, and refuse to accept the other’s approach, disaster will occur (annoyance with the other and distaste seeping into the performance from this annoyance). Find a partner where working will be productive and enjoyable.


Select a partner who possesses a sense of determination to excel. A lack of drive can cost rehearsal time and overall performance improvement. Further, having one partner wanting to do better, while the other is okay with coasting, will lead to arguments. Simply put, chose a partner that wants to work and preserver through tribulations. A partner that loses hope and drive halfway through the season is of little use.

Trust And Comfort

The only way to act honestly, open up, and take risks is to trust the scene partner. If a partner feels uncomfortable performing with another actor, then there will always be some emotional disconnect between the two. And audiences can detect this. Even worse, not trusting a partner can prevent open discussion in rehearsals. This can result in not offering constructive criticism, failure to make suggestions for fear of being rejected, or even refraining from stating personal opinions/ideas. All of this might lead to feelings of contempt for the partnership. Partners need to feel confident in their ability to freely, and always respectively, speak. A partnership might not be founded between two close friends, but feeling comfortable with the other must develop. So, when choosing a partner, if at any point there is a feeling of being unable to speak to this potential, that could be a warning sign to heed.

Similar Ability Levels

First, let it be stated that at no point should a Varsity refuse to work with a Novice solely on the grounds of inexperience. To be blunt, simply putting in the time does not equate to talent or skill. Also, a Novice could have experience outside of Forensics--or even natural ability. Therefore, base a partnership on whether or not the two involved are somewhere on the same level. A true Novice with much to learn and still shy of public performance would impair a Varsity who has honed some prowess. Effectively, as long as both partners share a comparable amount of skill, the experiences can differ. In fact, diverse backgrounds often lead to various abilities that can be shared and learned.

Compliment the Other

A crucial factor in selecting a partner should be how well one compliments the other. This can refer to work ethics/styles (as stated above), personality types, and abilities. Every individual has a unique personality. Some are bubbly, others realistic, there are the serious, the quiet, the expressive, introverts, extroverts, and limitless combinations of levels. Finding a partner that compliments another’s personality type is important to establishing a working relationship. Place two individuals who are so alike, or drastically inverse, and the personality chemistry might not match. It is not necessary to become the best of friends, but getting along is not optional. Further, search for a partner who has different skill-sets. For instance, if one person is a talented singer then their partner could offer something which is special--perhaps dance? While one excels in inventing blocking, the other might be better apt at interpretation. One might be phenomenal with voices, and the other could be an expert at slap-stick. The point is, do not just strive to find a partner that matches oneself. Strive to discover someone who challenges and improves a partnership.

Of the Same Vision

Finding a partner that meets the above criteria is not enough. Ultimately, both in the Duo must agree on the direction of the piece. Will the Duo be Dramatic or Comedic? What particular sub-genre or performance style will be adopted (a high-comedy differs from a slap-stick)? Which actor will play the straight role? Who will be the “wacky” foil? What tone, blocking, overall style is to be used? Compromise is vital, but it will not save a partnership of individuals who have separate wants and goals.


Finally, it is in the Duo’s interest to find partners that are creative and who can both offer ideas for the piece. When only one person suggests ideas it might create some spite from a person who does not want absolute control over the piece. This could also limit the range and scope of a performance when only one contributes. Partnerships are meant to be a team effort. And one person taking complete creative control over the piece because the other partner lacks the ability to think of ideas might not be a partnership some wish to enter.

A strong partnership is the foundation for an accomplished piece. Even with an ideal cutting two miscast actors unable to work together could not perform to Nationals. It is simple to find someone to deliver lines with. But finding a match that can become a Duo destined to Nationals takes thought and consideration.