An Unnerving Circumstance

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I have always been a free thinker - or at least try to be.  Looking for my own interpretations, questioning the "truths" around me.  I am the personality type that likes to walk into a movie only knowing a sentence's worth of plot set-up.  Essentially, sauntering in ignorant to the opinions of critics and trailers so I can be as untainted as possible.  I read what I want.  Listen to what I want.  Watch what I want.  And say and think what I want without worry of how society looks upon me.  (Not to imply that I am rude to people.  There are some restraints, or public niceties, that should be adhered to.  Who am I to belittle another just because I feel like it and can?)  Peer pressure is there, but almost a non-issue. 

Therefore, one of the many reasons I adore Speech is the liberty a performer/speaker is allowed with piece selection.  The rules are extraordinarily open.  It's published and has a valid ISBN number?  GO FOR IT!  I love that sense of possibility.  A piece can be almost anything or come from nearly anywhere.  It can be ANYTHING, for there are no regulations on types of stories or ideas you can explore.  Whichever form of Storyteller you embody, be it through a formal speech or a performance, that is all you are.  A Storyteller who uses their craft to connect with not only their piece but the audience as well.  

It is because of this possibility that I thus become boggled with the concept of coaches selecting pieces for competition.  And competitors agreeing to use a piece selected for them.  My mind questions: what sort of relationship do you have with the piece? do you even care for it? do you get the same joy from performing as I do? why are you in Speech?  That is my foremost query.  Why ARE you in Speech?  Being handed a piece, no cutting required, reeks a lot of competitive drive.  I guess some Speechies are in Forensics for the medals.  If glorified metal is your goal than I suppose having a competitive-seasoned piece delivered to you is not awful.  It's logical.  Different approaches and drives for different people.  I might not make my choices their way, but I certainly understand their method.  Just bring it in the round, because then my self-created win feels all the better, haha!     

But then I ponder.  What if a person who wanted to find their own piece was deterred to do so by a coach who had "the perfect piece" for them?  Or what if a person was being guided to or given a piece with subject matter they personally found unsettling?  I cannot decide which scenario is more horrifying, having your freedom of possibility stripped or feeling forced to perform a piece with a topic that you found sickening.  What I find infinitely unnerving is the knowledge that this does happen.  No matter how rare (wishful thinking?), it is still frightening.  Even if a coach does not explicitly decree an Authoritarian regime (hopefully an impossibility), persuasion and pressure to belong to a winning team is powerful enough.  Never should an individual feel required to perform a piece about rape because a coach has subtly implied that doing that piece would benefit the whole team and thus "let them down" if refused.  It's wrong, an abuse of the coach-student relationship, and exploits a person at a time when many are defining who they are and want to belong to a team/group; even if some self-sacrifice of what feels right is required.

I sincerely hope that the above mentioned aberration of forced piece "selection" is a Forensics-style horror story I've largely manufactured.  However, if you are EVER in that situation state your principles and leave if they are disregarded.  Either situation would cause me to abandon Speech and find another receptor for my energies.  Creativity is everywhere.  Personal ideologies and opinions are more import than any team.  I am involved in Speech for the unknown, the desire to transform one piece of art into something my own, and not to feel like a competitive workhorse being pointed in the "proper" direction. 

I met a girl once who was being "forced" to do a piece she really didn't feel comfortable doing. It was a situation where that team was used to being given pieces, and a lot of them had to do with some topics some people just are not okay working with for a performance. Unfortunately I don't know if the girl got out of the piece, but I hope so. She was beyond stressed when she shouldn't be!


That's horroble! I hope this doesn't happen to too many speechies out there!

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