Saying Someone Else’s Words – It’s All in the Translation

Hats off to the interpretive speakers who are headed to Nationals this year!  You have selected, written, or adapted great works of literature to bring to life for your listeners. You are storytellers creating what is called “theatre of the mind.” There is much to say about the nuances and difficulty of these kinds of speeches, but we will consider a very specific practice technique here to help as you “spit and polish” your stories before the final tournament of the year.

Consider this insight from academy award winner, Jack Lemmon…

Acting doesn’t have anything to do with listening to the words. We never really listen, in general conversation, to what another person is saying. We LISTEN TO WHAT THEY MEAN. And what they mean is often quite apart from the words. When you see a scene between two actors that really comes off you can be [darn] sure they’re not listening to each other ‑‑ they’re feeling what the other person is trying to get at.”

So try this. Translate. During your next practice session, take “beats” or small scenes from your selection and run them one more time with words that the author has NOT written. Use the vernacular or everyday language. Consider the inner monologues of your characters and the subtext of your storyline. Explore the MEANING behind the words.  Now return to the actual words of the script with greater insight and sincerity.

Champion interpreters never just recite the lines for the author; they interpret them and lift the story off the page.

We all LOVE stories and can’t wait to hear and feel the meanings of the stories you are bringing to Nationals!