Island Players Sponsors Forensics Team at Washington Island School

In keeping with its mission – “to bring quality theater experiences to the Washington Island community through performances and programs for adults and schoolchildren alike” – Island Players, in cooperation with the Washington Island School, is sponsoring Forensics, a program of interpretive and dramatic events for middle and senior high school students.

The term ‘forensics’ comes from the Latin forensis, meaning “of a market or public forum.” In plural form, it refers to the study or practice of argumentation. Over the years, Forensics programs in high schools throughout the country have added interpretive events, so that to be on the Forensics Team of your school could mean that you are a poetry reader, solo actor, even a teller of original stories.

Since the fall of 2000, Island Players has provided Dramatic Arts in Education, a program designed to bring theatrical experiences to the youth of Washington Island through classroom activities. Led by a program director, these activities included theater games, classroom plays, storytelling, puppetry, and improvisation. In addition, a Drama Club for middle and high school students, which met after school twice a week, presented a one-act play for the community.

This fall, Island Players will sponsor a forensics program that focuses on interpretive and dramatic events. Those middle and senior high school students participating will be part of a Forensics Team. Washington Island School will become members of The Wisconsin High School Forensic Association and will compete in the State Festival series, taking place in February for middle school members, and March and April for senior high school members.

The Forensics program at Washington Island School will offer students eight different interpretive and dramatic events: Group Interpretation, Play Acting, Solo Acting (both serious and humorous,) Poetry and Prose Reading, Storytelling, and Farrago (a combination of no fewer than two literary genres which have a common theme or emotion).

The team will meet after school with the director and others who may volunteer as coaches. After choosing an event, or events, the students will prepare to compete, not only in the state series, but other invitational tournaments throughout the fall and winter.

The director and all coaches who serve as judges at these events will be certified by the Wisconsin High School Forensic Association. This will guarantee that students are being coached and judged in accordance with the rules and objectives of the association.

The criteria that coaches and judges will use include the following:

1. The Selection of Quality Material: Quality material is defined as that which “gives insight into human values, motivations, relationships, problems and understandings, and is not characterized by sentimentality, violence for its own sake, unmotivated endings or stereotyped characterizations.”

2. Preparation of an Introduction: Students will write an introduction to their presentation and will be evaluated on how effectively it prepares the audience for the selection.

3. Manner of Delivery: In certain categories the manner in which a presentation is to be delivered is required by rule. For example, Poetry and Prose readers must read from the printed page, while in Play Acting, lines are to be spoken from memory.

4. Effective Use of Voice: Students will be evaluated on how effectively they convey motivation and the imagery of the material selected through the use of rhythm, diction and phrasing as well as the use of effective pauses, volume, rate, and pitch.

5. Effective Use of Physical Presence: Students will be evaluated on how effectively they use eye contact, facial expression, gestures, and bodily movement.

The Wisconsin High School Forensic Association has established certain goals and objectives for the festival program some of which are the following:

1. To provide a significant training ground for the development of students’ abilities in speaking and the oral interpretation of literature.

2. To create learning situations in which students develop proficiencies based on sound educational and communication theories.

3. To provide evaluators who will make judgments based on educational objectives and to offer an evaluation that will help students achieve them.

Students will benefit from this new program by learning to develop skills in oral language as well as voice and body expression, and the ability to recreate the written thoughts of others through vocal delivery. They will also develop insights into universal human experiences.

In addition to sponsoring Forensics as a school program, Island Players plans to provide a showcase for the Forensics Team so that they will be able to share what they have learned with the Washington Island community.

For more information about the Island Players, visit

Peninsula Arts and Humanities Alliance, Inc., is a coalition of non-profit organizations whose purpose is to enhance, promote and advocate the arts, humanities and natural sciences in Door County.

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