Washington High School has a rich theatre and speech history, including speech team, the Forest Drive Improv Company, MuDaCo, and International Thespian Society.
Speech team is a performance based extra-curricular activity. There are two seasons for speech team: large group speech (in groups with other students), and individual speech (students perform by themselves), each with many different categories. Speech rehearses on a schedule, and then the groups and individuals go to contests to perform for other students.
There are two separate seasons, and students may participate in one or both.
Large group speech
There are 11 different categories. All are group categories, except for solo mime. Students can be in up to two groups.
- One Act Play: a theatrical performance (dramatic or humorous) of a play or group cutting. Thirty-five minutes, costumes, set, make up, and memorized lines.
- Reader’s Theatre: a group focused on the use of interpretive skills to present poetry, prose, and/or drama. Limited set, scripts used, 25 minutes
- Ensemble Acting: A theatrical performance (dramatic or humorous) by two to six persons. Memorized, 15 minutes, no costumes or set
- Choral Reading: Group interpretation of a text—uses solo and ensemble speaking. Fifteen minutes, costumes, set, scripts used
- Group Mime: Ensemble of students creating a story or expressing a message without words. Seven minutes, two to six students per group
- Solo Mime: One student creating a story or expressing a message without using words. Five minutes
- Television Newscasting: A video recorded news program, can be farcical or serious. Up to 15 students, student directed, performed, produced, and edited
- Group Improv: Creating and presenting a story motivated by drawn criteria within a limited preparation time. Two to six students per group, five minutes
- Musical Theatre: A theatrical performance where students utilize music in the form of song or dance. Two to six students, 10 minutes, memorized
- Radio Broadcasting: An audio recorded news program. Can be serious or humorous. Six minutes, two to six students, recorded
- Short Film: Original productions of student film, all genres. Up to 15 students, student produced, directed, performed, and edited
There are 14 different categories, and all are individual performance categories. Students can be in up to two individual events.
- Acting (8 minutes): The selection(s) used will be such as normally falls within the generally understood meaning of acting material. It may be either humorous or dramatic or a combination of both. It also may be of original nature, and also may be a monologue. This category is memorized.
- Solo Musical Theatre (5 minutes): One song no longer than 5 minutes (memorized). No lines.
- Storytelling (5): Stories may be taken from any source (children’s literature, science fiction, classical literature, fables, mythology, etc). Storyteller must sit on a stool for the performance. This category is memorized.
- Literary Program (8 minutes): At least one prose selection and one poetry selection, along with commentary about the material, surrounding a common theme. This category must use a script.
- Poetry (6 minutes): One or more poetry selections in a single performance, along with commentary about the material. The material may also be original. This category must use a script.
- Prose (6 minutes): One more more prose selections in a single performance, along with commentary about the material. The material may also be original. This category must use a script.
- Individual Improv (5 minutes): student draws 1 situation and 2 characters, and has 3 minutes of prep time to prepare a scene using all 3 items.
Public speaking-based categories
- Public Address (8 minutes): The presentation of another person’s material that argues, persuades, moves, or attempts to convey understanding of human experience. The speech must have a purpose for being beyond pure entertainment. You may use a notecard for this category.
- After Dinner Speaking (5 minutes): The speaker must identify a particular audience, by using appropriate comments within the speech, to indicate the dinner party which is being addressed. The speech may be informative, impressive, inspiring, or entertaining. The speech should be enlivened with stories, anecdotes, quotations, puns, witty remarks, and humorous local and personal references. This is a student written speech, and notes (not to exceed 50 words) may be used.
- Original Oratory (8 minutes): An oration written by the performer. The oration may be on any topic appropriate for oratorical presentation. Notes or a manuscript may be used.
- Expository Address (6 minutes): Student written speech on any subject appropriate for platform presentation. Visual aids and costuming may be used. Notes not to exceed 50 words may be used.
- Radio News (4-5 minutes): Students receive news copy and have 15 minutes to put together a 4-5 minute news broadcast, including a commercial. They deliver this speech over a microphone live.
- Spontaneous Speaking (5 minutes): Students draw a topic, have 3 minutes to prepare a speech on that topic, then deliver a speech. The topics are on contemporary issues.
- Reviewing (8 minutes): Students may review any drama, book, movie, music, concert, television show, or any other form of media or combination. Visual aids may be used. Notes may be used.
Speech frequently asked questions
Who coaches speech?
Both large group and individual speech teams have several coaches: Carrie Tinkham, Zach Smith, Chris Dvorak, Jackson Bartelme, Alex Schulte, and several experienced seniors will be coaching this year.
What is the season like?
The season begins in early to mid-October with some light rehearsals, and then begins with regular rehearsals after the November musical closes. Most groups will meet or rehearse once to twice a week for one to two hours. Large group season is from about October to mid-February, and individual speech season is from early January until late March (or in some years, early April).
When and where are the contest dates?
Large group speech:
Districts at Monticello: January 22, 2022
State at Kennedy High School: February 5, 2022
All-State at ISU (Ames): February 19
Districts at TBD: February 26, 2022
State at TBD: March 12, 2022
All-State at UNI (Cedar Falls): March 28, 2022
What is the rehearsel schedule?
See calendar link below
The individual speech scheedule is on an individual sign-up basisRehearsal schedule
How much does it cost?
Speech is one of the only free extra-curricular activities here at Washington. Thank you to the PPA who help cover student fees, entry fees, rights and royalty fees, and some coaching! We just ask that you help us by volunteering at hosting contest every few years.
How do we get to contest?
We will take buses to each contest that depart from the high school. We will not take a bus to the Kennedy or Linn Mar state contests; however if a student needs a ride, they should let Mrs. Tinkham know.
What time is contest?
The contest runs all day (from 8 a.m. until 5 or 6 p.m.). Buses will leave after the final rating is posted and we retrieve our ballots.
What if I have a conflict on contest day?
Let Mrs. Tinkham know right away. School activities and important family events (reunions, weddings, etc) are things that we can schedule performances around. However, we need to know the dates and times of those events at least 2.5 weeks ahead of time. That is the maximum time that the contest has to schedule. Once the event is scheduled, we cannot move our performance time.
There are a couple exceptions to conflicts: the ACT is not an acceptable conflict. The IHSSA (speech association) will not take a performance schedule request because of the ACT, because students can take the ACT at another time. Also, we cannot request times for any All-State contest.
What do students do at contest?
Students perform the pieces that they worked so hard on! They also go to other performances! It is great that students go see entries from their same team, but speech students learn and improve best when they go see performances from other schools.
How do ratings work?
Entries at speech contest receive a rating from a judge:
District contest: There is one judge (exception: One Act Play has three judges), and that judge will give oral comments to the performers after their performance.
State contest: There are three judges per center that each give a separate rating, which are unknown to the other judges.
All-state contest: All-state is the top honor given to speech students each year. Judges nominate who is “Outstanding” at the end of the performance day. We find out who our outstanding entries are the Monday after the state contest.
Entries will receive either a division I, II, III or IV (disqualification) rating. Entries that receive a I rating at districts will move on to state. State entries will receive three ratings (example: I, II, I).
Entries that receive three I ratings do not automatically advance to all-state. Less than 5% of all entries at the beginning of each speech season advance to all-state, so this is indeed an honor.
Should parents go to contest to see their student?
Sure, if you would like! We will take good care of your student if you are not able to come, but you are welcome to join us to watch your students perform. Even if they say they don’t want you there, they usually do. There are a couple of contest things that you should know:
No photos or videos in contest centers. An entry could be disqualified if people are photographing or videotaping without permission.
Do not wear school apparel. The contest is meant to be rated anonymously, which is why performers cannot wear school apparel either. If a lot of spectators come in wearing the same school apparel, it is obvious which school they are from!
Consider donating to the contest. The host school puts in a lot of time and effort to host a contest, and asks for a donation upon entry. We also ask for a donation when we host state large group contest, and these donations go back to fund our speech program as well as our other performing arts programs.
Do not approach a judge or contest manager. If you have an issue with anything at a contest, please do not approach a judge or contest manager with that issue, including email. Please bring it to Mrs. Tinkham, either that day or after the fact.
Can students ride to/from contest with parents?
If there is a conflict that requires a student to leave early or go late, then of course they may ride with you. However, in order to keep our team spirit, we are asking that all students, who are able to, stay at the contests all day. Please contact Mrs. Tinkham if you have questions about this, or to notify her about giving student rides.
What is the overnight trip?
Each year, the large group speech team travels to Ames for large group all-state contest to support any all-state entries we might have. We leave after school on Friday, go out to eat as a team, stay at the Gateway Hotel in Ames, and attend all-state on Saturday, and come home Saturday night after contest (around 8 or 9 p.m.). It’s a ton of fun, and students are fully encouraged to go even if they aren’t an outstanding performer, because it’s a great way to learn! Parents are also more than welcome to come with us.
The cost is usually around $60 per student, which covers transportation, lodging, contest admission, and food on Friday night and Saturday morning. As always, if money is ever an issue, please contact Mrs. Tinkham and she will make sure that all students can attend.
Are volunteers ever needed?
Yes! If you are ever interested in providing snacks for buses to contest, being a chaperone, or lending us your speech/performance expertise as a guest critic, please let Mrs. Tinkham know.
The Forest Drive Improv Company
Members: Josie Norris, Indica Mutchler, Isaac Tominsky, Piper Jackman, Abby Owens, Isak West, Max Pospisl, Max Cline, Harrison Ginsberg
Rehearsals: Fridays after school at 1:45/3 p.m. in Mr. Sheetz’s room
MuDaCo is an annual variety show at Washington High School, and stands for music, dance, and comedy. It contains all sorts of acts: musical performances, magic shows, stand-up comedy, dance routines, juggling—any talent we can find at Wash! In addition to student performances, there are some teacher performances, and lots of comedy skits by our comedy troupe.
Visit our Youtube channel for MuDaCo videos!
International Thespian Society
The International Thespian Society (ITS) is the Educational Theatre Association’s student honorary organization. ITS recognizes the achievements of high school and middle school theatre students. Students with enough credits earn an invitation to be inducted into the ITS.
Washington High School’s thespian troupe is troupe #2814, and it is advised by Mr. Kyle Woollums. At the end of every school year, there is a thespian banquet during which new members are inducted and awards/honors are distributed to recognize excellence in theatre.
Up to two recipients of this award are chosen each year by our thespian troupe director. Recent award winners include:
- 2019—Ozzie Wilcox
- 2018—Quinn Wilcox and Araya Dunne
- 2017—Allie Klinsky
- 2016—Harrison Shaffer and Jacqueline Fashimpaur
- 2015—Taylor Luke
- 2014—Elijah Wolter
- 2013—Cassandra Kittredge