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Event Overviews and Resources 5: Duo Interpretative (Featuring DUO Tips from Coach Londe Gagnon)

Updated: Mar 20, 2021

Welcome to A Long Winter's Clap: 12 Days of Speech and Debate Event Overviews and Resources. Today we are talking about Duo Interpretation - featuring tips from Jackson Hole Head Speech and Debate Coach and Wyoming High School Forensics Association President, Londe Gagnon.


Duo Interpretation (DUO or Duet) is an event for two competitors who partner-up to perform a 10-minute cutting of a play or story. As with all interpretative events, no props or costumes are used - just two performers using creativity and various techniques to build characters, story, and interaction with their partner.

Here is a description straight from the NSDA:

“Duo. The event everyone wants to do with a best friend. In truth, while the appeal of duo might be performing with a friend, this approach may not be best. Duo is about balance. Partners need to compliment one another stylistically, have a similar skill set and work ethic. Chemistry is an important element of duo, but chemistry outside of a practice/performance setting does not always translate to chemistry when practicing or performing at a tournament. Be sure to share your goals with your coach as they help you through the process of getting started in duo.

Duo is an event that can be dramatic, comedic, or a combination of the two. With a ten minute time cap, and a requirement of an off-stage focus, Duo is one of the most unique forms of performance. The main objective is to maintain a sense of balance between performers that focuses on the relationship(s) between the characters they create.”

Duo is a dynamic interpretative event with two students. It can be any genre or tone… humorous, dramatic, a mix… you might see anything in Duo. It is a wildly creative canvas for students.

Duo is a super popular event for spectators, and Duo rounds are places where one could potentially see many different and novel creative performances because of the endless ways two people can interact and build character in chorus. Even now, in our world of primarily recording duo for asynchronous judging on a screen, there is space for jaw-dropping creativity.


Duo Interpretative Tips from Jackson Hole Speech and Debate Head Coach and Wyoming High School Forensics Association President Londe Gagnon:

5 Tips for Delivering a Dynamic Duo

Tip 1: Choose Wisely when Picking your Partner.

This step is not as easy as it sounds. Friends do not always make the best duo partners - when choosing a partner instead consider if they have the same level of commitment to practices and competitions that you do. For example, if you have a best friend that participates on the team but only goes to 50% of the competitions and you go to 90% of the competitions, you may not be the best match for each other.

Tip 2: Choose wisely when Picking your Piece

Duo is awesome because you can have serious content, funny content or a mixture of both. But in all cases, picking something with a message is important. Consider what your goal is with the piece - what do you want your audience to get out of it, what’s the point? Also, less is more- if you are trying to adapt an entire 2 hour script into 10 minutes you will probably struggle. Consider just crafting a substory of the main plot of the bigger script.

Tip 3: Characters and Collaboration

It is important to work on collaborating with your partner but be careful about trying to direct one another. Instead approach it by creating your individual characters and then discuss how your characters would interact with each other. The more developed your characters are, the more depth you can create and the more tools you will have when it comes to blocking your piece.

Tip 4: Practice

Be prepared that duo practices should be lengthy- especially at first when you are learning your chemistry, blocking and lines. Work on perfecting small portions at a time, doing full run throughs are not usually the best idea when working on blocking and memorization.

Tip 5: Warmup

It is important to get in sync with your partner before your practice or your competition round. Do a connection warmup before you start- the mirror game is a great one to tune in to each other.

Bonus: 2020-2021 Separate but Together

Connection with your partner becomes even more critical when you must perform in separate spaces on split screens. Come up with a few rituals you can perform with your partner online to get you both in the same headspace. Warming up together is important (like stretching) so you can summon the partner chemistry that is essential to a dynamic duo.


If you’d like to hear more from Londe on One Clap - good news! Londe has been a key player in the One Clap Universe from day one and she is a smart cookie. I will link to her episodes on the blog post. If you’d like to hear more about Duo on One Clap, I will also link to Cheyenne East Coach and all around good guy Allen Pino’s interview about Duo. Check them out here:

Wyoming State Speech and Debate Tournament Co-Directors Reflect on the Online Event

A Chat with the Team Behind the Recorded Interpretative Wyoming Online State Tournament

Double Trouble! Coach Allen Pino Discusses Duo and How to Pass the Pino Test


If you have any ideas for the podcast or would like to help out with content here at One Clap Speech and Debate, send me a message on the website or an email ( As the Speech and Debate season hits its stride, I have less time to create content for the podcast and the website. But, I'll continue to do my best to get usable, inspirational, and helpful content out there.

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More links to helpful resources for Duo:

NSDA Competition Guide:

Speech Resources Video from the 2020 Wyoming Coaches Conference, Presented by Marcus Viney and Ashley Schulz:

Duo Advanced Guide from

What to expect in DUO from a Student's Perspective from NSDA:

Resources of DUO from Judge Training:

DUO Resources from

Sample Interpretative Ballot from NSDA:


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