Duo: No Contact?

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I'm a speechie from Illinois, and in the region/tournaments I used to compete in, the competition rules are established by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). At these tournaments, the Catholic League is eligible to compete. I thus became acquainted with some interesting rules for their style of Duo which happen to be the national rules. Apparently, IHSA decided to split Duo into Humorous Duet Acting and Dramatic Duet Acting AND to allow for scene partners to look and touch one another! *GASP*

I used to ponder, and still do, which set of rules I approve of more. I suppose any response I give can be seen as biased due to me having competed with eye/touch contact. I was conditioned for a set of rules. Whatever. I'm going to give my opinion anyway.

After much thought, I decided that eye/touch contact is better. Although the no contact rule forces creativity to overcome the boundaries, and leads the performers to work on interpretation over crazy acting antics, I think it goes against what Duo is. Duo is a performing event. It is at its core a theatrical duet scene. And a scene is partner interaction. Maybe it's the theatre minor in me, but acting is about making choices to get what you want out of the other. Part of those choices, your tactics on how to achieve your wants, utilize either looking away or at the other. Or through touch, or lack of. All of these things are powerful and INTERPRETIVE. I feel by eliminating the choices, the scene is less realistic and more like a formal speech disguised as as "acting."

If they want a duet speech event, get one. Otherwise leave acting as pure and realistic.

in the NJFL, New Jersey Forensics League, there was no eye contact or touching. It made for interesting performances.

I would have liked to have seen Eye Contact - Touching in addition to our format to be able to compare the two side-by-side. They are very different.

Part of the uniqueness of Duo came from the very interesting way in which partners could not officially recognize eachother's existence.

I'm undecided on this. You make good points. As a debater, I don't have strong opinions. I do think the creativity that is forced with little contact-interaction is interesting.

But interesting to hear about the different formats. I'm sure all speechies have very different and strong opinions on this issue. I wonder if you know why the IHSA decided to split Duo into those categories and make the drastic move of enabling looking-touching....

You make some good points, but I'm all about No Contact. It forces creativity and makes Duo, well, Duo.

If you want to touch or look at one another, go act in a play. Otherwise, no Contact all the way!

I've never seen a contact version of duo, but Im guessing that can get pretty raunchy? Is that an accurate assumption Lis?

Ummm, it's basically like if you were to go into an acting class and watch a duet scene. I don't think I would ever say Duet gets raunchy. Shocking blocking does exist, but with everything there are limits. I mean, you're never going to see an actor pole dancing on their partner, haha. People keep their acts clean because otherwise they lose points.

I think it also makes a difference that this is how we compete. It's not a new concept so there are few attempts to abuse power. Lets use this analogy: in Europe people can drink from an early age so alcohol abuse from teens is not as big of a problem as it is here. If the legal drinking age were changed in America, the deaths would be staggering b/c teens would look at it like a freepass to get sloppy drunk. I hope that makes sense...it does in my head at least.

The most "raunchy" blocking I've ever done is I was doing a duet of "The Producers" and I was Lea Bloom (yeah, name change for gender!) and my pal Rob was Bialystock. He got to slap me and shake me into sanity. That's it.

Duet for us was acting. You do the blocking the script states,suggests, or lends itself to and what works with the words/scene. It's all about the judgment call. If something sounds wrong, then refrain from doing it. That simple.

T's picture

We had Duet Acting (contact) and Duo Interp (no contact). The novices generally competed in Duet for a couple years and then moved into Duo. Duo was seen as the more challenging event because of the no contact. I think there are merits to both, but Duo Interp was always more interesting to watch because the blocking was so much more creative.

I'm fascinated by how different the rules are in different regions! Here are Louisiana's rules: In Duet Acting, competitors can use two chairs (and a table, though there is hardly ever a reason to use a table) and contact is allowed. You generally see more comedic pieces in Duet, as drama is better suited for Duo. In Duo Reading, two competitors stand side by side with binders. There's no physical contact and definitely no eye contact. Also, in previous years Duo limited a competitor to one character and one space -- you couldn't switch places with your partner or use different accents throughout the piece. At national qualifying tournaments, multiple characters and "walking" are now included in Duo. I've even seen competitors touch each other. The rules are slowly changing, and I don't think it's for the better.

The point of Duo -- the element which makes it different from and (in some cases) superior to Duet -- is that instead of having direct character interaction, the audience gets to see every second of expression. We get to see and interpret the actors' faces in a way that we never could in Duet; we aren't limited to seeing the sides of their faces because they're talking to each other. The limits and challenges of Duo make it much more complex and interesting.

Like Nikki said, both events have appeal, but Duo without contact is more entertaining for the audience and more challenging for competitors.

Thanks to everyone who has helped educate me in the ways of Duo/Duet thus far.

All of this is fascinating and a bit bizarre. To think there are hybrid areas with contact and no contact...it makes me wish IL was a bit more adventurous!

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