Prose Reading is an odd event. On one side you are to interpret the piece through creating multiple character voices and with subtle pops. On the other you hold a book you are to "read" from and present a reading of the text. Many consider Prose an acting event, yet elements that define the event restrain it from ever becoming like Dramatic Interpretation. Prose is almost a half-way point between Interpretation events and Speaking ones as there is "more" consideration to presentation than in something like HI (presentational performance due to the binder). You want to perform without bordering on HI/DI or your rank is in jeopardy. Here's how:
- It's NOT a full-out Interp. Prose might require you interpret a piece of literature, but that does not mean it is a full-out Interpretation event. There is a difference between Prose and Humorous Interpretation's performance styles. Prose is literally a better version of someone reading out-loud to you. HI/DI is almost a one-person show. Get the distinction and the rest will be simple.
- Narrator. People that tend to turn a Prose into a Dramatic Interp are the ones who forget the role of narrator. Prose should have one main voice with a few secondary parts that might share time but hardly steal. That's the fun of Prose! As it is a selection of literature the audience is transported into the world of the novel or short story where internal dialogue is rampant. The reader usually learns about the story's world through the eyes of a narrator. Prose reading is about using that charm to tell a story. A cutting that has far too many characters, or mostly back-and-forth dialogue, can swiftly turn into a DI/HI. But with a black book.
- READ. Prose is to have the appearance of a story being read and not one of a memorized piece. If you rolled your eyes that is not completely wrong. It is funny to pretend to be reading a story when everyone knows you're not. HOWEVER, this is one of the distinctions that separate it from an Interpretation. If you want to use a book, or pretend to be in a reader's theatre, then perhaps Prose is your event. Otherwise, try HI. Everyone is allowed their quirks. Old-fashioned storytelling may be yours.
- Voice over body. One of the fastest ways to de-Prose your performance is to let popping and use of physicality sabotage your piece. DO alter yourself a bit for different characters. Changing your posture, maybe something with your gesturing arm/hand, and perhaps where you look are good subtle changes. Once you start adding details with your feet and legs you are bordering on entering DI with a book. Keep character changes simple and slight in terms of the body. The voice however is critical. Your voice and skill in interpreting a story vocally is where most of the judging occurs. If you have multiple characters do analysis of the entire text and begin to develop a character. Everyone should have their own voice with accurately reflects the text.
This can be a nit-picky detail for Prose Reading. Most people respect the boundaries and act appropriately. Yet, there are the few who take a Dramatic Interpretation, toss in a binder, and call it Prose. Avoid this habit! Hopefully this will deter you from using a piece not suitable for the event.