Opinion- Short Scripts – Yes or No? (Plus Vlog)


There is now a whole market of short scripts, written for competitive speech and available easily online.  Lots of kids are going that route to find their competitive interp pieces.  Seasoned coaches, Kristi Eskelund and Heather Neumann give their thoughts and opinions on the script debate…

What Kristi says:

For starters, the pieces are short.  That means not much cutting.  It’s very similar to using a short story, which is actually where I have always recommended beginners to begin with interp speeches.  Additionally, it’s written for stage use, so it will already incorporate more dialogue than narration and the stage directions that often accompany play scripts – my other favorite beginning point.

The advantage of starting with a short script is that it will be a complete story in and of itself, but it still give you the chance to build characters, determine your blocking, and magnify the message in your own way.

The disadvantage will come in taking some of these simple pieces up against weighty classic literature, but there is a balance there.  Often, such short scripts are able to connect better with the audience in a ten minute time slot than a piece of classic literature cut down to its bare bones.

What Heather says:

This is an on-going debate that I have quite regularly. I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer, but here are some of my thoughts…

The Cut – At first this might make a script look like an easy choice, because there is very little cutting, if any, involved in a script. However, I can typically spot a script in the first minute or so of a speech. The reason is, in a script, the journey and emotions move rather quickly. How many of us would like to watch a ten minute movie or play? Or would you like to consume a four course meal in ten minutes? Most ten minute scripts are written to entertain and evoke emotion quickly. Perhaps you are thinking, “that’s a good thing, right?” Well, it can be sometimes, but for the most part I prefer to chew my food. I like to savor the journey. Now it is true that some scripts are better than others, but I feel like with most scripts you lose part of the journey when there is no script to cut. You lose part of the flavor you might gain by chewing your food a little slower.

The Piece – There are some really great scripts out there! The problem is, once a good script is discovered, it will be done again and again. It is a risk. Most scripts are going to look the same every single time. Your mission must be to make it your own- I mean really be creative! There is a pretty good chance your judges will have seen it, and may not be as moved because they just saw it last year. How will you make your piece unique?

The Blocking/Choragraphy – Most ten minute scripts have “stage directions” in them. This can be used as a tool, but ultimately I would want you to develop your piece yourself. This is something I coach all of my students when they choose to do a script. Again, if it’s a popular piece your blocking can be what really makes it yours.

The Time – I can understand why some students choose to go this route. They are already so busy, and they don’t have the time to find, cut, and develop a piece of literature. This is ultimately the reason why I like a script option (perhaps for the beginner or the too busy). However, I don’t feel like it should be the go-to every year. Those of you who have been in speech and have done an interp before need to stretch and grow!

What I say to students – Ultimately, they know their time schedule, how much time they can put into the piece mentally and physically. I do feel like they will get much more out of the experience if they don’t choose a script.

What I say to clubs – This is where I think more education needs to done. Clubs need more knowledge about the script debate and to decide how they feel about them. I know many judges, some are parents, who have felt duped after judging enthusiastically for a script, that they would have given more weight to the piece of literature done. Therefore, by clubs educating their members, including parents, of the advantages and disadvantages of scripts (please feel free to use this article) they will be better judges.

Remember to watch the vlog for more thoughts…