Theater 121 – Anecdote Guidelines 30-second

Theater 121 – Anecdote Guidelines
For this assignment you will write, memorize, rehearse, and perform a 30-second anecdote. We
will practice telling anecdotes in class today, but you are not obliged to work with the anecdote
you come up with in class.
As you begin to think of yourself as an actor, you need to remember that actors are storytellers.
This means you need to consider your body, your expressiveness, your timing, and the quality of
your voice. This exercise will give you some practice with the simplest form of storytelling – the
short anecdote. The only rules about the anecdote are as follows:
1. Do not tell an anecdote that will be insulting to any person or group. Something
humorous is fine, but not if it is hurtful to others.
2. Be able to describe why your anecdote is worth telling. Is your anecdote funny, does it
tell about something unusual, something sensational, something embarrassing? When we
tell stories we do so because we think our listeners will be interested. Know why your
anecdote will interest us. Use that knowledge.
3. Don’t tell an anecdote you’ll regret later. This is not the venue for baring your soul or
outing yourself.
To complete this assignment you will need to do the following:
1. Write down your anecdote. Using the template below you will turn in your anecdote
script this Friday, October 7th. You will be performing this script, so be sure to write in a
way that is easy for you to speak. DON’T WRITE TOO MUCH. Remember, it should
be no more than 30 seconds. Don’t give yourself more work than you need. Speak it
out loud and time it. Trim if necessary, then turn in a SHORT SCRIPT.
2. Memorize your anecdote. Word for word. Scripts must be adhered to in performance.
3. Perform your anecdote. You will perform your anecdote in front of the class on Friday
of Week 3. The trick here is that you will perform it twice. First you will perform it to
all of us. Using good public speaking technique, you will perform your anecdote clearly
and expressively to the class, making eye contact with everyone, etc. Then you will
perform your anecdote a second time, telling it to a person who will be with you on stage
– as though you were alone with them. The first performance is a public performance,
the second is a private performance.
The point of this assignment is to give you some experience with memorizing and performing
while helping you to feel the difference between performance styles. I strongly suggest that as
you memorize your anecdote you practice it in both ways.
When you turn in your script on Friday, use 12 or 14 point font. Your anecdote should be
significantly less than a single page – probably less than ½ a page. Begin with a heading, using
this format:
Joey Student
DRMA 121 - Acting
Below the heading have a centered title, separated by a single hard return on either side, with
your anecdote below. Two hard copies of your anecdote should be brought to class on Monday,
October 11. Electronic submissions will not be accepted.
Dawson’s Condensed Speaking Primer
Your first task is to have something interesting to say. You are asking people to pay attention, so
respect them and have something for them to listen to. Developing an interesting idea, however,
is only the first step. You must then shape your ideas to make them appropriate for the use to
which you will put them. Always be thorough and clear in your speech, but be aware that this
means different things in different situations. A three-minute talk is different from a thirtyminute lecture. Ask yourself to whom you will be speaking and for how long. Be sure to work
within any formal rules governing your speech. Make sure you address the following:
Enthusiasm – The single quality that most ensures your audience will be interested in your ideas
is your own enthusiasm. Care about your subject and care about sharing it with your audience.
The most confident, authoritative person in the world can still put her audience to sleep if she
doesn’t express enthusiasm about her material. On the other hand, a somewhat disorganized
person can still win over an audience if she expresses genuine passion for her subject.
Personality – Your personality is not something to cover up when you are speaking to people.
There is a tendency for students to try to adopt a ‘professional’ character or attitude in an attempt
to achieve objectivity and authority. This is not a proper approach for most public speaking. Let
your personality show – share your sense of humor, your nervousness or confidence. Your
audience is much more likely to be interested in your ideas if you let them be your ideas. This
usually means that a public speech has a very different structure from that of a written paper.
That’s okay. Express yourself.
Clarity – Because you must maintain your audience’s attention, you must be clear and concise
when you convey your ideas. This means, of course, that you must speak well – use good
diction, be expressive, try not to rush. But clarity also has to do with the organization of your
ideas. You must shape your material for your audience. Respect their time; don’t be
disorganized, don’t ramble. Make your point clearly and quickly, explain your opinion or idea as
much as the situation calls for, then finish up.
Confidence – Nobody wants to listen to somebody who seems unsure about the subject they are
addressing. Know your subject, practice so that your speech flows smoothly, then speak out,
loud and proud. (Often the best confidence-boosting thing to do is to admit to your nervousness
and move on. This is always acceptable.)
Thoroughness – Cover your material in as much detail as is allowed by your allotted time and
appropriate to the situation.
Engagement – Make eye contact with every audience member – or as many as you can. Don’t
mumble, don’t fidget. If you have visual aids use them, but don’t hide behind them. You will
always be better able to convey your ideas than a slide or pie chart.
You may not be a particularly confident or enthusiastic or outgoing person.
Public speaking for you will be more challenging, perhaps even something of an
acting exercise. Still, however uncomfortable it feels, it is a skill that will serve
you well in whatever field you choose to enter.