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Description of Events in Illinois IHSA
Forensics Individual Events

Forensics competition in the state of Illinois is governed by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). This means that all the competitors throughout the state follow the same rules and guidelines. We have 13 categories of competition in the state of Illinois. Each category of competition is called an event.

1. Original Oration--OO--In this event, the contestant writes his or her own 8 minute speech on an important, current topic, then performs it from memory. The speech can be informative or persuasive in nature, though persuasive seems to be the current trend on the northern Illinois circuit. This is basic public speaking and probably what most people have in mind when they think of speech team.

2. Oratorical Declamation--Dec--This event is similar to OO, but the piece is not original, not written by the student. The material is taken from another, published source and performed as a standard oration. Again, the time limit is 8 minutes and the topic should be current and compelling.

3. Special Occasion Speaking--SOS--Similar to OO, this is an original 8 minute speech. In this event, however, the speech is written and performed as though it were being delivered to a specific, real organization for a real purpose--for example, speaking to parents and potential JROTC students at the recruitment banquet.

4. Impromptu Speaking--Impromptu--This event is for the truly strong of heart and will. Each speaker is given a topic at the beginning of his or her speaking turn and is given 8 minutes to prepare and deliver a meaningful, organized, coherent speech. The topics for this event come from the categories of Names, Words or Quotations.

5. Extempore Speaking--Extemp--This event is similar to impromptu, in that it, too, is a limited time preparation event. The student blindly draws three topics from a number of cards. The speaker then chooses one of the topics, then has 45 minutes to prepare a 5 minute speech. The topics for this event are drawn from national and international issues of politics, social issues, commerce, government policy, international relations, etc.

6. Radio Speaking--Radio--This is essentially a radio news broadcast of 5 minutes. The speaker speaks in an empty room into a microphone. The material for the broadcast must be 24 hours fresh, making this a limited prep event, as well. The broadcast must include international, national and local news, as well as sports, weather and a commercial. Time is of the essence in this event. The time of the broadcast must range from 4:50-5:05 or the student is dropped a rank.


7. Verse Reading--Verse--The performer creates two “programs” of poetry, one will be used once, the other twice during the tournament (later in the season when the tournaments have final rounds, qualifiers will read both programs twice). A program consists of a single poem, or a number of shorter poems tied together by a unifying theme or idea. The performer reads the poems from a black binder in an interpretive manner. The time limit for this event is 6 minutes.

8. Prose Reading--Prose--This event is essentially the same as verse, except the speaker reads short stories (usually one per program) instead of poetry.

9. Dramatic Interpretation--DI--In this event, the speaker “cuts” a scene from a play, memorizes the piece and develops interpretations of each character and the action of the scene. The speaker must perform the piece, representing all the characters, without moving both feet from the ground (so the performer can pivot, but not walk). The material for this event is of a dramatic nature. The time limit for this event is 8 minutes.

10. Humorous Interpretation--HI--This is the same as DI, except the material is of a humorous nature.  

11. Original Comedy--OC--While this event may take many forms, of our circuit it usually takes the form of something like an original HI. It generally does not take the form of a stand-up comedy routine. The only basic requirements for this event are that the material be appropriate and funny and original and 8 minutes long.

12. Dramatic Duet Acting--DDA--Two students cut a two-player scene form a play and act it out. They cannot use props, costumes or make-up. They are only allowed two chairs and a table. This event is especially meaningful for student actors. The challenge of creating and portraying believable characters with nothing but ones own body and voice is rigorous and a great way to develop acting skills. The scene cannot exceed 8 minutes.

13. Humorous Duet Acting--HDA--This is the same as DDA, except the material is of a humorous nature.