Flowing effortlessly between characters is beautiful to watch. Spectators observe in awe as one character morphs into another without any pause; the transformation taking what seems fractions of a second. Dramatic Interpretation might lack the same flair Humorous Interpretation possesses, using pops as a means towards a punch line. However, great pops in your DI will help increase the tension between characters (flawless pops “disguise” that you are playing multiple people; reduces obviousness). This tension is what breeds great drama, and that is what wins rounds.
What can you do for your Dramatic Interpretation to help better your pops? Well…
Know your piece cold. The more uncertain you are of what lines come next the more uncertain you will be with your character pops. You must know your piece forwards, backwards, sideways, and any other way you can imagine. Not having to worry about what comes next will allow you to begin to fully act out the material and get “in the moment,” thus letting your body take over and pop without doubting yourself.
Know your characters inside and out. Knowing your Dramatic Interpretation’s lines is not enough; you need to know the characters. Specifically, have memorized every physical attribute you gave. Facials, posture, feet position, focal point (direction they face), arm placement, and any distinguishing gestures/”props” they hold–ALL need to be recognizable instantly. The transition must seem instantaneous and the only way to accomplish that is to be in character after your split-second of popping is done.
Keep the energy up. Dramatic Interpretation should be intense and have energy behind the performance, but would it be called an energetic event? Probably not. Energetic more accurately describes Humorous Interpretation with its manic characters. Yet, to pop effectively you must be energetic. DI performances tend to take advantage of silence and pauses (which they should), but never let this pace influence your pops. Pops need to snap, even if you are popping into a silent moment.
PRACTICE! Never presume that pops are simple. Clean, gorgeous ones take endless practice. When practicing, be sure to go through your piece from beginning to end to ensure that there are no memorization issues. This also points out problem areas. With those, work the pops that are giving you the most difficulties. Some people just run those segments on repeat until they can integrate it back into the larger work. Others work the pop in slow motion and gradually speed it up to get it at its appropriate pace and brilliance. Whichever method works for you be sure to use it! And remember, even once you “know” the piece practice is not finished. Practicing continues for every tournament until the season is over.
These four suggestions are ways that can improve your popping skills. Master pops, and your Dramatic Interpretation will begin to flow better and therefore allow you to focus more on interpretation. DI might not be as flashy with pops as HI tends to be, but that does not entitle you to slack on mastering your pops. Sloppy pops can be the difference between breaking and not.
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