By Andi Hayes
Four students traveled to Birmingham, Ala. on June 16 to begin their journey at the National Forensics League (NFL) National Tournament. The four competitors were seniors Josh Arshonsky and Meghan Doyle, sophomore Kit Fitzgerald and ‘13 grad Ivy Fishman, who had qualified the year before and placed 12th in the nation.This was the second year that Prospect had the opportunity to have students qualify to compete at this event.
They returned on June 21 to have Fishman and Arshonsky place in the top 40 and Doyle in the top 60 in a tournament of over 2500.
Fishman and Arshonsky competed in Duo Interpretation, Doyle in Humorous Interpretation and Fitzgerald in Original Oratory.
The NFL is an organization similar to the concept IHSA speech team where students competitively perform speeches and acting selections.
While many believe that the NFL and IHSA speech team are the same since they both involve competitive acting, there are many differences in the NFL that made the road to nationals a bit of an adjustment for the qualifying team, who were used to IHSA speech standards.
For example, in IHSA speech there are the events Humorous Duet Acting and Dramatic Duet Acting. The actors who perform in these events have eight minutes to complete their selection.
The NFL only has Duo Interpretation, where the actors must perform for ten minutes and duo partners are not allowed to look at or touch each other during their performance. Any physical contact or eye contact during the performance can result in disqualification or serious docking of points.
This differs from IHSA speech where making physical and eye contact with the acting partner is a norm.
“[Not being able to look at or touch your partner] is so weird because in IHSA [speech], you can do that,” Fishman said. “And it’s hard because looking and touching… shows that you care. It’s harder to [just emotionally portray through only acting] that you care. It’s definitely a challenge.”
However, for Fishman, the hardest part of adjusting from IHSA speech to NFL wasn’t the physicality, it was the endurance of repeatedly performing.
Normally during a speech tournament, competitors perform in three preliminary rounds where the competitors with the highest scores advance to a fourth final round. However, for the national NFL tournament, there are six preliminary rounds.
This can prove to be exhausting as the actors are forced to physically, mentally and emotionally connect with their piece.
“You have to stop and say, ‘OK, you just [performed] that now go do it five more times,” Fishman said.
Another adjustment on the road to nationals is the ten minute requirement for all selections. Normally in IHSA speech, selections run about eight minutes.
For Fitzgerald, who used her selection from IHSA speech, this meant adding in about two minutes of content into her speech and adding a lot of research-based information.
The students put in a lot of new hours making adjustments to their selections and making sure their performances in Alabama went smoothly.
Their efforts paid off, whether or not they had a place to show for their hard work.
For Fitzgerald and Fishman, the best part was seeing all of the talents competing at the tournament and meeting new competitors from across the country.
“I love seeing really good pieces and seeing different styles from all across the nation,” Fishman said. “There’s some stuff that’s absolutely phenomenal.”