Diary of a Speech and Drama Kid

In elementary school, we’re all ignorant to how the world is past 5th grade. It’s the second worst thing to happen right behind being the freshman class in high school. You’re the new group, the “fresh-meat,” the easier ones to pick-on. College simply gets an easy pass because to be different and unique here is almost cherished, and there is a higher sense of maturity then in the dreaded 6th grade. I was a young boy bred by an Irish Woman and a German Man. Needless to say, I wasn’t on the football team.After getting my 5th Grade Diploma, I had the whole world in front of me. I started thinking of all the great things I wanted to do and who I wanted to shape myself as a person. I decided that I wanted to play basketball, but I didn’t make the team. I wanted to play football, and I didn’t make the team. I wanted to sing; this time there was no team; I just was a bad singer. If I could appreciate anything that ever happened to me, it was that I didn’t get to do any of those things. I was one of the shortest kids in school so I most likely would have died if I played any sport.If I would have sang my voice would have set a higher pitch than it is now, and the man standing before you today sounds like a Justin Bieber back-up singer. To summarize, I wasn’t good at sports, I wasn’t good at singing, what was a small frail 6th grader to do? Theatre was the answer. Due to budget cuts and a lack of interested students, the theatre program was cut from my middle school. However, as a substitute, our school offered the Speech and Drama Club which competed in competitions all across the county.Speech and Drama was about reading and presenting different types of literature through spoken word in an affective and meaningful way. The coach of the speech and drama team was also the coach of the cheerleading squad. My audition for the team had to meet the needs of hers schedule and the only time she could fit me in was during one of her cheer practices. I can admit that in 6th grade, I was immensely cute; looking at me now, I don’t know what happened either. With this historical cuteness I read my audition for Mrs.B, as she was known, and as I read cheerleader after cheerleader sprouted up around her watching me as if I were some teen heartthrob. Cheerleaders plus 6th grader liking older woman equals happy 6th grader. After my reading I was quickly accepted onto the team, and I loved every second of it. My thought process lead me to believe that if I keep cold reading other forms of writing that I would be a babe magnet. How wrong I was, but that’s a story for another time. As I attended some of my first club practices, I learned of all the different types of categories speech and drama had to offer.We somewhat were allowed to determine our own categories and the different categories that appealed to me most were Improvisation, Interpretation of Literature, and Storytelling. Each of these components taught me a significant amount about myself as a person, a business professional, a student, and about myself as a reader and presenter. Improvisation oddly enough encouraged me to read most of all. The category required a deep understanding and mastery of bringing new and unprecedented presentation in the form of a scene of the judges choosing.The rules of course being that there was a similar format to a written piece; dialogue, vivid images, and a climax. Within the allotted time limit, we were forced to perform our mastery as improvisers by using our brains quickly thus creating a scenario. To perform at a higher quality, and to better understand what I and my partner were going to be doing, I read quite a bit of dialogue between two characters in a piece or simply read a written form of an interview to see how people communicated.I felt this as a reader lead me to a better understanding on how to use proper speaking methods to get my point across through the use of different inflections and sentence structure. An understanding I only could have understood by studying written communication between two characters or regular adults. Storytelling was mainly children’s story based which created an even greater understanding for me on how to paint a picture.In this category we were required to take on a story piece and perform each and every character, with their own dialogue, and perform that in a way where judges could differentiate every character. One aspect of children’s storybooks that I think is imperative to their success is the ability to depict different characters and give them a life of their own. Today, I’m considered an exceptional public speaker because of my understanding of proper tone usage and my ability to identify crucial moments to depict the message I’m trying to convey.I truly believed these were traits I picked up by studying content from of the most influential children’s authors of that time. I could argue that most of all, interpretation of literature benefitted me most of all as it introduced me to not only my favorite author, but the person I wanted to grow up to be. Interpretation of literature was among one of the most difficult topics in speech and drama as it required a level of maturity most middle school students didn’t yet comprehend.One of the most challenging pieces of all was an assembled group of excerpts from John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Mrs. B felt that I was one of her top performers and she felt confident I could take on the task. In speech and drama, Of Mice and Men was considered one of the pieces you didn’t have a middle school student perform as of the required knowledge of the subject matter that most parents didn’t feel suitable for their children. After my parent’s approval, I began to read both the play adaptation and the original novel Of Mice and Men.Over the course of my studies I realized what good writing really was. It’s not about laughs; it’s not about shock value; it’s simply about displaying true and real thought provoking emotion in written form to where I forget I’m reading a novel and instead believe I’m reading an exact description of a firsthand account. Through the lessons and messages that were presented to me I felt a more mature version of myself climbing out of that frail self. As I went on to perform the piece, I felt pride in my skills as a presenter.My confidence grew as I won state tournaments, and eventually went on to become a national champion. Each time I performed, I made each and every judge I came across cry. My comments for my performance on my judge’s sheets included comments such as “your maturity and mastery of this piece make me forget that you’re only in middle school. ” Though I enjoy movies and television over reading, I learned what I was best at and how I wanted to use it. I’m an amazing public speaker and I’m best at onveying my intended message and influencing others to act. Reading amazing work by people such as Steinbeck taught me to believe, which I firmly do, is that there isn’t necessarily a form of natural evil or good in the world just simply a human being’s reaction to the world they perceive. What I mean by this is that simply, my actions are what influence my perception of the world. I consider myself righteous and believe in the good of community service and always helping a friend in need and that’s what I want to use my “powers” for; for good.Some people have the same skills I do but they use it to lobby harmful things, scam others out of money, or anything horrendous act. Others like me want to use these skills as a call to action and a way to encourage the heart for those around us. Until writing this piece I felt reading was a hobby that I just don’t enjoy. After writing it, however, I’ve just now realized that reading ended up making the person I am today and I’m incredibly thankful for that. All I can say is, thank you 6th grade me.

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