I judged IE’s this weekend (Individual Events, that is) at the California State Thespian Festival. At Thespian Festivals there’s a competition aspect in conjunction with play productions: solo musical, duet scenes, technical events and of course, the monologue. I judged one session of the first round of monologues and then a session of call backs.
Some interesting observations….
All of the students I saw who performed Shakespeare were excellent. Clearly spoken, well-defined characters, a great understanding of the language – especially at the callback level. Really enjoyable!
Almost none of the monologues were well blocked. The students didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the physical side of their characters. A lot of shifting from foot to foot. An over abundance of hand gestures. Moving because they think they’re supposed to move instead of finding a reason to move. Stances that were actor driven, not character driven. It’s important to think of the physical; it plays a significant part of drawing the audience into the world of the piece. Physical action is just as important as vocal action!
I like judging. It’s a great skill to be able to look at a piece and come up with comments that are going to be helpful. I worry about the amount of time judges are given (this was also true last year when I judged at the International Thespian Festival) We’re supposed to be positive, and constructive, and comment on character, voice, movement and WATCH the monologue with about 20 seconds in-between actors.
But having said that, there’s a lot of repetition in the comments as well. You get into a rhythm. Watch your diction, make your movements character related, and so on.
I was amazed at how many went over time as well. It’s an easy thing to fix. Time your monologues IE’ers! There’s no need to go right to the limit.
I’ll be judging monologues again at the International Thespian Festival in Nebraska this June. Looking forward to it!