Constant revision is the best way to make sure you are always improving. Before we made our appearance on the main stage, we would tweak moments of our Duo almost every week. If you don’t change anything about the way you are performing, you can’t expect to get better. Things may also start to feel stale or boring. We were extremely motivated by the quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” You have to be open to revisiting and revising your script/performance throughout the year!
In speech and debate, you will receive ballots that are more critical than encouraging. Instead of taking bad notes to heart, consider what could be improved. We constantly asked ourselves what we could do to make sure bad comments were not repeated, even when we didn’t necessarily agree with them. Use these opportunities to go back into the script, read it again, and edit your cutting. After you have performed a few times, you will have a new understanding of what works and what doesn’t, so this is a great opportunity to make new changes. We would sit down every Monday after tournaments and review our ballots. This feedback was a catalyst for constant improvement. We also did multiple reflections on how different tournaments would go and made sure to share with each other and our coach what we were feeling about the piece. It is important to be transparent about what you think with everyone involved in the creation process because you want to feel comfortable and confident performing.
One ballot comment that was a catalyst for big changes in our Duo was:
“It was all one level, just screaming to get laughs, I’m sorry guys it was just way too over the top for me… your comedic timing was pretty much on point for every single joke, dramatic element seemed so random.”
When we received this comment, it was hard not to get upset and take it to heart, but eventually we were able to use it as inspiration. We revisited the heart of our script and then tried to make sure that we weren’t just one level, especially the dramatic element. We had to recut a few scenes, which included adding more lines to the scene when the parents got into a fight. Another thing that we added was more dialogue of reflection for Louis at the end of the piece. This comment came to us right before NSDA Nationals 2019, and this was a great time for us to revisit our script and look at different things we had originally cut. By doing this, we also reworked the realness of our characters by adding non-verbal moments and working in more realistic and detailed blocking. This is a good example of the fact that wacky characters can still have heart! We changed those things and it made our piece feel more complete and less like the dramatic element at the end was just thrown in. It became a more well-rounded story. We didn’t let the judge discourage us. Don’t think that just because you get one radical judge you have to change your entire piece! Stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid to adapt as changes are necessary.