Penn Speech and Debate: Interpretation


Option 1(preferred): Perform a 3 minute selection of your choice.

Option 2: Select and perform one of the pieces provided.

Poetry – America’s On Sale by Alix Olson

Prose – Spark by Isaac Yu

Solo Interpretation (Dramatic) – Catholic School Girls by Casey Kurtti

Solo Interpretation (Humorous) – The Audition by Anonymous


The purpose of Interpretation is to deliver a message and invoke feeling through acting. Choose the piece where you can demonstrate your best capabilities as an interpretation competitor. We will evaluate you based on your tone, volume choice, pausing, voice, character development, and interpretative creativity. Bottom line, bring the performance to life and capture our imaginations.


1: America’s On Sale by Alix Olson


attention 9 to 5 folk, cell-phone masses,

the up and coming classes.

attention sports-utility,

plastic-surgery suburbanites,

viagra-popping, gucci-shopping urbanites.

attention george-clooney loonies,

promise-keeper sheep,

stockbroker sleep-walkers,

big investment talkers,

ricki lake-watchers.

attention walmart congregation,

shop til you drop generation,



We’ve unstocked the welfare pantry

to restock the wall street gentry

it’s economically elementary

because values don’t pay,

yes, american dreams are on permanent layaway!

(there was limited availability anyway)

the statue of liberty is being dismantled,

ten dollars a piece to sit on your mantle

or hang on your wall

by the small somalian child

you bought from sally struthers

sisters and brothers, it’s now or never,

these deals won’t last forever-


(restrictions may apply if you’re black, gay or female)

And shoppers!

global perspective is ninety-ninety percent off

cause most of the world don’t count to us.

our ethic inventory is low

because moral business has been slow,

the values-company is moving to mexico--


Because inflation is up on the CEO ego

and power is deflated as far as we go:

Nike bought the revolution,

and law schools bought the constitution!

Tommy Hilfiger bought the red, white, and blue,

(a flag shirt for fifty dollars,

the one being burned is you!)

Marlboro bought what it means to be a man,

Lexus equals power- so get it while you can.

Maybelline bought beauty,

New York bought Rudy Guiliani,

Mastercard Gold bought the national soul

Broadway bought talent and called it CATS!

the Republicans bought out the Democrats-

they liquidated all asses in a fat white donkey sale-

now it’s buy one shmuck, get one shmuck free

in the capitalist party!

And there’s nothing left to get in the way

of a full blue-light blow-out

of the U.S. of A!

there’s a no-nothing back guarantee,

a zero-year warranty,

when you buy this land of the fritos, ruffles, lays..

this home of the braves, the chiefs, the reds, the slaves!

so call 1-800- i don’t care about shit

to receive your credit for the fate of our nation-

(call now! Interest is at an all-time low)

But hurry shoppers!

because america’s being downsized, citizens,

and you’re all fired.

2: Spark by Isaac Yu


A quote often attributed to Stalin is that ideas are more dangerous than guns and if you do not allow your people to have guns, then why should you allow them to have ideas? As far as tyranting 101 goes this is sound advice: after all it was someone else's stupid idea to give you vast amounts of power so naturally it will be someone else's idea say "hang on you want to the turtles to do what now?" and take it away from you. Because of this fear or rather apathy has been the greatest tool of the oppressor. Through fear you can compliance and through that compliance you ensure that whatever world you've created remains that way.


Take Exhibit A: Hitler (the guy who wins the award for 'most deaths due to time travelers'). He didn't one day say to the German population, "Right lads so about these war crimes" mostly since there would be more shouting and schadenfreude involved. Instead he instituted a system of gradually escalating discrimination and dehumanization to substitute ideals of humanity and compassion with racial purity and war. Bit by bit, with carrot and stick, Hitler's ideas seeped into the German psyche and they were all singing his tune. This kind of trust and obedience toward authority is written in our genes. Man evolved as a social animal and thus adherence to a hierarchal power structure comes preprogrammed much like how other social mammals gravitate toward leaders…Despite having few weapons, being outnumbered 2 to 1 by the Waffen SS and being composed of untrained men women and children they chose to fight rather than to accept their fate. While eventually being routed and destroyed they presented the idea that even the most humble and downtrodden may strike down the most powerful.


Because of this the wise tyrant lives constantly in fear. Fear that one day a single voice might call out against his ideas. He can stifle that voice, he can kill or imprison those who speak out against him. But that one person standing up and saying no carries the unspoken power of the forces of history. And while you can take away guns one can never take away ideas from the people so long as one person continues to think, and dream, and hope of something different. It might not happen in a day, or a week or a month. It may take years and years but rebellion is brewing and his time, as with all other tyrants before him, is limited…



It only ever takes one [idea] to remove all that we thought we knew and to start over from scratch. Everything we ever need to change our world starts, and ends with us. A single spark flickering in the dark, hoping to catch alight in someone else.

3: Catholic School Girls by Casey Kurtti



(to God, as if she is in church)


Hey, come on out, I want to talk to you. It’s me, Elizabeth. You can hide behind any statue in this place, but you better listen to me.


I don’t know if you know this but after my grandmother moved in with us, everything was different. We used to sit in my room, after school. She’d ask me questions about all sorts of things. Then she’d listen to my answers real close because she said I was an important person.


Some nights, after we went to bed, I would hear her talking to my grandfather in the dark. If I made any noise she’d stop. Because it was private. One night I saw that she was crying. I made some noise and she stopped. Then she asked me if I remembered my grandfather. I did, she liked that. We fell asleep on her bed like sisters…


Sometimes, if she was feeling a little better we’d take short walks. After we had rested, she’d tell me stories about my mother and bring along pictures that I had never seen. I didn’t know why my mother was so sad and neither did my grandmother.


One day, my father came home from work and told me that my grandmother would have to move back to the Bronx. He said it was just not working out. She needed more care and besides she was making the family crazy. I told him she wasn’t making me crazy. I told him she let me be near her. He didn’t understand that.


And now I see that you didn’t either. You took her and I don’t think that’s fair. You’re supposed to do the right thing, all the time. I don’t believe that anymore. You just like to punish people; you like to interrupt their lives.


You didn’t let me finish.


She doesn’t know what I think, and I was almost ready to tell her. Why don’t you take my mother next time? Oh, you like to take little kids, don’t you? Grab one of my brothers next, they’re all baptized. Why don’t you take my whole stinking family, in one shot, then you won’t waste any time. That would be some joke.


But I want to tell you something. It’s a personal message, I’m delivering it myself. Don’t you ever lay hands on me, cause if I ever see you, you can strike me dead. . . try . . . I will spit all over your face, whatever it looks like.


Because you and everyone else in this world are one big pack of liars. And I really think I hate you. Something else: You don’t exist.

4: The Audition by Anonymous

My resume. Oh, first I should mention that I could play any of the parts in this play. Any. I could play an ant, I could play Little Red Riding Hood, I could play Hamlet. I’ve never heard of this play, as a matter of fact. It doesn’t matter. I can do opera, I can do commercials, I can sing soprano, I can do my own stunts- I’m that versatile. Leading man, leading lady, gay, ingenue- you name it, I can do it. That’s how great I am. I see you looking over my resume. Noticing I’ve never had a part. It’s a real comment on this sick business we’re in, isn’t it? An actor this good and he’s blackballed! Why? For refusing to show up at auditions! Auditions are beneath me. I wipe my feet on them. People should be begging me to grace their theatres- producers should be asking me to audition them! But those egomaniacs who should bow and scrape before me - they have forced me to betray my principles and come to this audition. So no, no, don't blame me for demeaning myself in this grotesque position… I’ve waited ten years for them to come crawling… but suffice it to say they were too wrapped up in their own insane… trivium to get the hint. But enough of them. Let’s get to the situation at hand. You’re sitting there typecasting me as a leading man aren't you? You’re thinking that because of my matinee idol glorious good looks, and rich, sensuous, sexy, seductive, fetching, effervescent, tingly and charming voice, I could only play a male lead. No, I tell you, no! Observe! An ant! And now, King Lear! I needn't mention, of course, that that was the fabulous storm scene, out on the heath. And now, Brutus, impaled on his own sword! And here’s a homicidal lunatic: Give me the part or I’ll kill you! I’ll poke out the vile grape jelly of your eyes with the point of my umbrella! I’ve been waiting ten years for this! OK. All the parts. I should play all the parts in you little production. Capiche? Capiche. Note the mastery of the Spanish dialect. I do it all. Now, with that in mind, here’s my… What do you mean my time’s up? I haven’t done my monologue yet! What do you mean, next? Where do you get off saying next?! I memorized this thing! I took the subway here! I elbowed my way ahead of dozens of pushy actors and still had to wait a half hour to get in here! I wanna do my audition!