Scholars of Speech Winter Rumble

2023 — Irvine, CA/US

How to Judge Acting

Acting at S.O.S. operates very similarly to the Interpretation categories at the National Speech and Debate Association.

1) The judge will call up the first speaker and confirm their piece's title and if they want time signals.

Typically, the speaker will receive a 'fist at grace'--when they reach five minutes in the five-minute category, they have 29 seconds to conclude their speech (the 'grace period') or they cannot receive first place in the round. Similarly, if they reach 10:30 in the ten-minute category, they cannot receive first place in the round. The judge should hold up a fist at 10 minutes so the speaker knows to conclude.

2) The speaker should be evaluated based on their piece's characterization (when performing as a character/multiple characters, they should be distinct), cutting (the flow of the piece should make sense), and blocking (their movements should add to their performances).

3) Speakers in the five-minute categories can use a single chair and/or a binder. Speakers in the ten-minute category can use a binder. Speakers are not required to use either; if they use it, the use of the prop should add to the performance.

4) When evaluating speeches that strike very different tones (for example, a multi-character humorous piece versus a dramatic monologue), differentiate ranks based on which performer better achieved the tone(s) they attempted to convey.

For instance, consider how Academy Award voters have to decide between tonally distinct performances (for example, Cate Blanchett and Michelle Yeoh were in the same category in 2022; Blanchett's performance was almost wholly dramatic and involved conducting an orchestra, while Yeoh's was eclectic and involved significant amounts of martial arts). Apply the same standards of differentiation--who better achieved what they were trying to achieve?

5) The same process will be applied to every other speaker in the room.

6) Between speeches, check to see if there are any people who are double/triple-entered waiting outside. Give them a moment to come in and let students who are double/triple-entered in your room leave to go to their other categories. After the last person has spoken, if there are 'missing speakers' on your list, give them an additional 10 minutes to show up before marking them as a no-show.

7) At the end of the round, the judge will thank and dismiss the speakers. Then, they will rank the speakers (first place is best, fifth place is worst), give them speaker points (100 is best, 70 is worst), and submit their ballots. The judge will not give verbal feedback beyond generic encouragement during the round; this feedback will be written on the ballots.