Member Login
Students sitting on books
Person standing in front of a extremely large envelope reading on a tablet

Below you will find some terminology for jargon commonly used when discussing Interpretation.

DI and HI

Acronyms for the event names Dramatic Interpretation and Humorous Interpretation.


A cutting is the excerpts from the original literature chosen by the performer to present within the event’s time constraints.


A tantalizing preview of the story to be performed before the introduction. The teasers are typically no longer than one minute.


Stories unfold in moment-by-moment acting units called beats. A beat is the smallest unit of action. As a rule, beats shift when a character’s motivation or routine changes. (Beats can be marked / like this.)


Popping is the term used to describe the process of changing from one character to another in a Humorous Interpretation. This technique might be used in other events, for example, in a Duo when one interper must play two characters; however, popping is a technique most often used in HI. A skillful character pop is quick, clean, and performed instantly. Popping often utilizes a technique that involves the feet, but foot pops are not necessary. We explain this technique later.


Melding is the term used to describe the process of changing from one character to another in Dramatic Interpretation. This technique is also commonly used in other events like Program Oral Interp, Prose Interp, and Poetry Interp when multiple characters are employed. A meld is not like a pop used in HI. It is a clean, smooth transition from one character to another or the transition between scenes, environments, or worlds. It also needs to be quick but not instantaneous like a Humorous Interpretation pop.

Focal Point(s)

When an interper portrays multiple characters, the focal point, the spot the character is looking, is to designate the other character in the scene. In everyday conversation, when we talk to someone, we look at them. We might not maintain eye contact with them 100% of the time, but we can always look back at them. The interper must know who or what they are looking at or talking to in their story.



Visualization is the cognitive process of generating visual imagery in the mind’s eye of the performer. Interpers must develop the ability “to see” what they describe to help the audience see what the character is seeing.


Pantomime refers to the actions the character is doing, such as peeling potatoes, typing, applying makeup, drinking, sweeping, etc. Students should practice these techniques with real props to develop muscle memory. If pantomiming with an object, the performer must look at the thing to make it real. Example: Our cell phone might be on the desk next to us. We might not even look at it to pick it up, but the interper must look to the imaginary phone spot to provide believability and context to the audience.

Sound Effects

Sound effects, including musical elements, are more often used in Humorous Interp and Duo Interp to increase the comedic effect, but a performer might also use them in other events to show a lapse of time or a change of scene. Note of caution: make sure sound effects are used to enhance the piece.



The environment is the world the interper creates in which their characters can live truthfully and believably. The setting is created through the use of blocking and pantomime. Once created, the environment must be maintained consistently throughout the piece/performance or made clear if/when the location changes.