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Interesting Day

Yesterday, through a round-about series of emails looking for judges for a local middle-school district speech competition, I found myself up before 8:00 am on a Saturday and in the next town up the road with a cup of doctored coffee in my hand. (As those who know me well can attest, coffee is the last resort of caffeine necessity...but they have taken all the soda machines out of the lower grade schools, and it was too early for them to have the sodas they brought in later for lunch, so coffee it was...)

I was set up to judge 3 events, one section of ensemble acting, one section of solo lip-sync, and finals in duet-acting. Okay, so right off the bat I am thinking "LIP-SYNC??!" -- but apparently this is a very popular event, as they have both solo and group divisions.

This was a small competition. I think there were 4 schools involved total. So everyone was entered in multiple events, and there were long waits while someone was competing in another section before they could come and do yours. I was very impressed with the kids who did the Pyramus and Thisbe scene from Midsummer Night's Dream for Ensemble. These are sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, and the boys playing the two lovers really knew the lines and what they were intended to say. It would have been a nice performance from college students. From these two munchkins, it was amazing. But all the students in the competition did a fine job.

Then it was time for the lip-sync. I had a judging partner on this one, who sort of filled me in a bit, because in all my years of competition (as participant, coach, and judge) I had never seen it before. The kids were cute, but I didn't really get the value of this as a performance skill, so it still eludes me why it is part of the whole thing.

The duet-acting finals were another joy. The top three places were separated by one point each when it came down to it. The kids were amazing for their ages. The pieces were not light fluff either. One group did Night, Mother; one did Glass Menagerie; one did Marvin's Room. And the others were just as impressive. It was very heartening to see this level of talent in the lower grades. Bodes well for their futures if they keep it up.

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April 2011


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