Use Context to Your Advantage

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When you choose a piece for Dramatic Interpretation, you are not limited to what you can glean from the piece. There are several ways that you can learn from the context, as well.

Read the entire work
Although many competitors take this as a given, it is a worthwhile reminder. Reading the entire work will give you valuable insight and allow you to place your piece into the proper context of the overall work. If you do not read the entire piece, you might completely misread a character's motivation or misinterpret a character's key speech.

Read the author's other works
Although the author's other works might not be directly related to your piece, you will learn more about the author and how he or she tells a story. This can be very important to help you figure out setting, characters, character motivation, and the sequence of events.

Make use of related writings
If the work has been the subject of literary criticism, take advantage of this unique route to learning more about the piece. You might learn more about why the author chose to write this piece, discover a character's motivation, or find a key point to explain why the story took such a bizarre turn.

Do a simple internet search
Do an internet search of your author's name and of the name of the work. You might find anything from highlights of a high school production that featured this work to a doctoral dissertation that deals with the work in some way. Although the usefulness of this information may vary, this is a simple way to learn more about the piece you have chosen.

Context is important. If you do not understand the context of the piece you have chosen, you will not be fully prepared to deliver it. On the other hand, if you place your piece in the proper context, you will feel more confident delivering it. Context and confidence are a winning combination.

Great advice! I think too often the whole work is skimmed through and not actually read--HUGE mistake on interpretation. Also, literary criticism is often overlooked as well which can offer intriguing insights not thought of alone.

I would also like to add sometimes knowing the author's intent for the piece can be useful if finding the message is an issue. Further, if a piece has any historical significance or references then some understanding of that zeitgeist is a must.

Finally, too often literature is interpreted far too often in our present-day mind-set. I say nay! This goes back to the historical context. Think about why that character FROM THAT TIME is acting that way IN RELATION TO THE TIMES THEY LIVE IN! You could be making an unfair judgement call or missing the point if you keep your 2000s mind.

Thanks for your comment.

I remember several competitors who chose pieces without reading the piece or gaining a full understanding of the context. It was a doomed-to-fail kind of thing.

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