Interp Events

Interpretation events are taken from material that has been previously published by someone other than the student and made either freely or commercially available to the public. The students will be attempting to recreate the characters in the story, making them alive and real to the audience or to reenact a previously delivered oration. Judges should consider the quality of the student’s interpretation, do not downgrade (or vote up) a student for interpreting a piece of literature they do or do not consider one of their favorites. You may, however, consider the quality, appropriateness and difficulty of the selection. Singing and dancing ARE allowed in all events. The performance must begin and end from the center stage area, and performers may not leave the stage during their performance.


GENERAL RULES: No selection shall be the contestant’s own work; the contestant shall suggest the thoughts, emotions, the ideas and the purposes of the author. Although gestures or pantomime may be used, they should be used with restraint and in a manner that enhances the immersiveness of the performance.

IDENTIFICATION OF THE SELECTION: The title of the selection, name of the author, and appropriate source cites shall be given by the contestant when the selection is introduced.

TIME LIMITS: 10 minutes, with a 30-second grace period. No time signals are necessary, but may be given upon request.

AIDS: The interpretation must be delivered from memory. No notes, prompting, or scripts are permitted. No costumes or props (the use of something extraneous to the body) shall be permitted in interpretation; with the exception of program oral interpretation which requires the student to hold a manuscript.



DI Solo Dramatic Prose / Drama One  
HI Solo Humorous Prose / Drama One  
DUO Partner Drama / Humor Prose / Drama One  
POI Solo Drama / Humor At least two of
Prose, Poetry, & Drama
Three or more  
DEC Solo Informative / Persuasive Prose (Oratory) One  
PRO / POE Solo Any Poetry OR Prose One or more *Not CHSSA
DUET Partner Drama / Humor Prose / Drama One *Not CHSSA



These events will be available at almost any tournament.

Dramatic Interpretation

In DI, a speaker will give a presentation of a story, play, poem, novel or other published literary material that is dramatic in nature. The material may contain humorous parts, but the overall tone be fairly serious. Good DI performances should showcase a well-developed narrative and an understanding of the mood, message, and emotion of the piece, and the use of gesture and oral skills to enhance the performance. That said, dramatic interpretation does NOT mean that the loudest or most dramatic piece wins, but rather the one who does the best job interpreting their selection. While a student may take on multiple characters in their performance, this is much less common in DI than in other interp events.

Learn more about Dramatic Interpretation [PDF]

Humorous Interpretation

Similar to dramatic interpretation except that the selection is of a much more humorous nature. The student will attempt to interpret the story through the use of characters, voices, gestures and facial expression. It is not uncommon in HI for a performer to take on multiple characters, and in doing so they must take care that each of the characters is distinct. Humorous interpretation does NOT mean that the funniest speech wins. Like DI, the first place should go to the student who does the best job of interpretation.

Learn more about Humorous Interpretation [PDF]

Duo Interpretation

Duo interpretation, as the name suggests, is the only speech event with two performers. The material selected may be humorous or dramatic in nature, and it is not uncommon to find both types in the same round. While there are two performers this is still an interp event, so the performers are not allowed to make physical or eye contact with each other. Good Duos should be fairly balanced between the performers, and will make creative use of the space between the performers to create the illusion of co-presence in the scene.

Learn more about Duo Interpretation [PDF]

Program Oral Interpretation / Thematic Interpretation

In this event, the student attempts to communicate a certain theme — such as justice, friendship, or war — by using at least three literary selections that illustrate and develop that theme. These sources will come from a variety of genres, and must include at least two of drama, poetry, or prose. A unique requirement of POI is that the literary selections must be interpreted from a manuscript held by the contestant. Good POI performances make creative use of this manuscript binder while also showing a high degree of skill in how they differentiate the different sources through a variety of charaters and moods while still making them part of a cohesive whole.   

An older form of this event, called Thematic Interpretation, can be found at some tournaments outside of California. The rules for TI are less strict about the diversity of sources, but otherwise the same as POI. (Side note: POI is one of few speech events that continue into collegiate competition).

Learn more about Program Oral Interpretation [PDF]



These events will be available at all league tournaments (CFLs), the state competition, and many (but not all) invitationals in California. 

Declamation / Oratorical Interpretation

DEC is the intersection of interp and platform. In DEC, the subject matter is taken from a public address, defined as a formal spoken communication to an audience. Stand-up comedy acts, slam poetry, and storytelling performances are not acceptable material. Many public addresses of this form are longer than the 10 minute time limit for the event, so students will often have to cut the speech in a way that still conveys the meaning in the limited time available. And while the text is that of the original speaker, this is an interpretation event (not recitation), so good DEC performers should find ways to make the speech their own. (taking care to stay within a reasonable interpretation of the author's original intent). 

While California allows high school competition in DEC, the NSDA considers it to be a middle school level event, so you will not find it at many tournaments outside of California. 

Learn more about Declamation / Oratiorical Interpreation [PDF]



These events will be available at various invitationals, most of which will be outside of California. 

Prose / Poetry

Prose & Poetry are actually two separate events. They are in many ways similar to POI, and follow all the same rules for performance, with the only difference being source material. In the Prose event, all sources must be straight prose (no drama or poetry sources allowed); Poetry likewise requires that all sources must be poetry. Some tournaments offer this as a shorter event, with time limits occasionally as low as 5 minutes.

Duet Acting

Duet is essentially a variation of Duo Interp, except as the less-formal name suggests, performers are allowed to make physical contact with each other. Unique to this event as well is that performers are given two chairs to work with, which they are free to use as set pieces or props as the scene might dictate. (Special Note: Since this event is pretty rare, NIETOC offers two unqualified entries for students as long as at least one of the performers qualifies in another event.)