When Partnerships Fail

A Duo partnership that fails has severe consequences. With no connection or trust between partners, a performance is almost always going to be rotten. No one wants for a bad partnership. Nor does anyone predict it occurring. People enter into a Duo with the highest hopes. However, if a partnership does begin to falter there are some actions that can be taken to salvage the piece, relationship, and time invested.

When a partner is lacking…

This can refer to both scheduling practice time or doing the required outside, alone work to improve. The facts are that partners need to meet at least once a week for an hour (after piece research, interpretation, memorization, blocking…the initial start of the piece is complete) in order to go over critiques and practice together. They also should have scheduled a meeting with a coach to get their assessment of the performance and advice. Another fact is that as individuals Duo partners need to work alone to keep current with memorization, think of ideas to bring to rehearsal, and generally stay “on top of their game.” If a partner fails to do any of these, the other must initiate a discussion of how this lack of enthusiasm could be hurting the piece. Never place blame because that deepens a divide. Work together to think of solutions. Compromise to meet the other’s needs. Most likely these poor behaviors can be remedied.

When a partner is an ex…

…or holds any other label which deems them Unable To Work With. This could be a fight, diverse personalities that cause a dislike for no real, ascertainable reason, there were conflicts between this person and a group of friends, or any other personal rational. When teams allow for people to choose their own partners this is a non-issue. However, some teams assign partners based on strengths and weaknesses coaches observe. If this is the situation there are two options:

1. Speak with this person to resolve the issues. Evaluate if both parties can be civil and form a working relationship. Partners do not need to be friends; they just need to work and performer together. Resolving issues can either form an odd, strengthened bond between people, OR the mild tension can add intensity to a performance which might work depending on the piece.

2. Go to the coach, explain the situation, and ask for a new partner.

Please be aware that even if two opposites do decide to overcome differences, that that does not promise a good piece OR partnership. In fact, a piece might suffer if genuine ill will is present because a partner cannot fully put aside issues for the work.

When a partner feels the other is the cause of failure…

Resentment can settle upon a relationship when one person continually receives great marks and the other is continually criticized. Bitterness towards the other for “failing” and dislike for being the symptom of “failure” are not unheard of. These sorts of feelings can rip a partnership apart. The only solution is to grasp that this is Duo, and a Duo is performed by a partnership. No one is better than the other; someone might merely be better suited for a role, have better lines (by being the “funny one”), or might play the likable character. Besides, one aspect of Duo is working together for the piece’s betterment. If labeled “weak,” take the critiques and use them to improve. If “strong,” try to help a partner by offering helpful suggestions or being there for extra rehearsal time if desired. Partners might even try examining and experimenting with a scene to see if it can be played in an even better way that improves both performances. Nothing is final with Duo. Keep playing and having fun because that is one reason why anyone joins Forensics--for love of competing.

When a partner refuses to compromise or listen…

A discussion needs to happen immediately. A partnership is a lie when only one person is in control. Both people are allowed to share their thoughts, suggestions, concerns, or vision for the piece and have it count in the decision process. Never should an individual feel that they have to sacrifice their goals because their partner will complain and refuse to listen. Disagreements are standard in rehearsal, but no one’s ideas are ever invalid. This ill treatment will cause an uneven, aggrieved partnership that might not translate well into the round. Speak with the partner, express concisely and respectfully personal opinion, and work together to understand one another.

When a partner showboats or improvs…

A partnership is a team. There is no allowance for taking over a scene at the expense of a partner. Further, using improvisation within a round is generally considered an illegal maneuver that can result in elimination if caught. (The only time improv is mildly acceptable is when a partner freezes and the other must think quickly to move the piece along, back to where it was meant to go. Even that type of improv is limited to perhaps a new sentence or so worth of dialogue for the sake of saving the piece--AND generally uses portions of the dialogue forgotten by the frozen partner. Not so horrible.) Anyway, both behaviors need to be addressed and stopped.

Ultimately, there are two choices:

1. BAIL if nothing can be salvaged of this demolished Duo (or if a partner refuses to alter themselves of destructive partnership behaviors which make them unbearable). Luckily these problems are usually assessed early in the season so a new partner can be found quickly.

2. DISCUSS the consequences of how these habits hurt the piece and place strain on the partnership. Think of solutions. Always remain civil. Also, if necessary call in a mediator coach to offer advice for how to solve issues. If problems are addressed early in the season, than a great partnership might arise and a terrific performance could be given. One never knows; violations could be happening without a person realizing how these choices affect their partner.

A stressful partnership is an awful way to remember Forensics. Duo is supposed to be fun, not a chore. Further, bad working relationships lead to bad presentations--which only further lowers moral. Fortunately, most hardships can be resolved early on with a simple conversation. Do not be afraid to talk to a partner. One challenging hour could prevent a perpetual challenge of a partnership.