Duo Interpretation

Purpose of Duo Interpretation

Duo Interpretation (Duo), is a two-person event where the students memorize and deliver a dramatic or humorous selection using a piece chosen from a single source. The source for a Duo piece may include published printed novels, short stories, plays, poems, and motion picture screenplays.

The contestants in Duo should choose a cutting from a work of literature well-suited for their combined personalities and abilities. In staging the Interpretation, the students attempt to convey through oral interpretation and performance, the drama and humor of the piece through narrative and acting. Performers excel at Duo by working to perfect the teamwork, effect and dramatization or mood of the performance. Teammates use effective positioning, transitions to one another, body language, and voice change to convey the characters and interpret the work. Teams improve their delivery by practicing together and better understanding how to relate to each other through the characters.

Rules of Duo Interpretation

The selected literature must be dramatic, humorous or a combination of both, and the students must each compete with the same partner and same selection throughout the tournament, and must stay together if they qualify and compete at the State Tournament.

The Duo’s must memorize the presentation and will not be allowed to use props or costumes. The contestants may each play more than one character, but the team members should balance the responsibilities within the performance. If the selection is prose or poetry and contains narration, one or both of the students may perform the narration portion.

The Duo team may not use a selection from the same source that a team member has used in a prior event, either in the current school year or past years. During a particular tournament, the team must use the same selection throughout the duration thereof, but the participant may not use it for a different event at the same tournament.

An introduction is required in which the team states the author’s name and the work’s title. The performer gives any other necessary information and uses a few words to set the tone for the Duo Interpretation. Usually, the competitor provides the introduction after a minute or so of the piece has been delivered, at a natural break-point.

For continuity of the cutting from a large piece of literature, it may be necessary to add transitions to the cutting. However, at no time may the work change the intended gender of any character or modify the original intent of the author’s work.

The time limit is ten (10) minutes with a thirty (30) second grace period.

Students may have direct focus and face each other during the introduction portion, but the partners may only look away from each other and must be indirect (off-stage) during the performance itself (i.e., they should not focus on each other, but mainly face the judge).

Coaches and teams must have a copy of the source of the selection readily at hand to give to the tournament director if requested. Not being able to produce the source material upon request will result in the disqualification of the team in at least one round.

Tips for Duo success:

  1. Know the rules. The rules for Duo are somewhat different from individual interpretation.
  2. Videotape or use a mirror to practice finding focal points and seeing how your partner is using expressions and gestures.
  3. Find a focal point that works well with the script and does not seem odd to the audience or judge.
  4. Choose a balanced presentation rather than one in which one partner seems to hog the spotlight. Let the intent of the story’s author dictate who is in the spotlight at a given point in the performance.
  5. Work on the basics such as diction, volume, expression, and characterization.
  6. Action = Reaction. Both performers should be actively engaged even when not speaking. The judge is watching both of you and expressions and pantomimes should continue even when not speaking.

What is Duo Interpretation? More Links:

Duo Interpretation: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Excelling in Duo: Advanced Guide

Video NFLtv – Duo Interpretation Showcase

A Student Explanation of the Basics of Duo Interpretation