FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 23, 2005
College to Host Fall Forensics Showcase
The amphitheater at College of the Canyons will be filled with highly stylized oral interpretation as the COC Speech Team presents its annual Fall Forensics Showcase.
The event will be held on Thursday, Dec. 1, in the COC Amphitheater (I Building) from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. (weather permitting). This event will focus on oral interpretation. Michael Leach, director of forensics and speech coach at COC, described oral interpretation as "acting but without the aid of lighting, costuming or music." "Instead," he said, "there is complete reliance on the voice and body."
So if this is speech, why use the word "forensics?" "Before forensics was popularized by shows like CSI, the word itself goes back to the days of Aristotle where forensics meant speech that was investigative, speech that seeks to present the truth," Leach explained.
The showcase is intended to show the campus and the community who the team members are and what they can do. "We're trying to do two things: Educate the campus as well as the community, and show off the exceptional student talent here at COC." said David Stevenson, communication instructor at COC and forensics faculty advisor.
The performers include David Knuston, who will perform "Choke" by Chuck Palaniuk, the author of the book Fight Club. Dominick Carratello will present "My Goodness" by Joe Queenan, a New York Times columnist. Aijia Guttman will perform original material written by Leach and herself called, "Six Lines and Three Commandments." Erin Helms will perform the song lyrics by Grammy Award-winning songwriter and vocalist Sheryl Crow. And Erik Mayer will present a program of mixed literature focusing on the theme of sexual harassment featuring the work of actor/artist Henry Rollins.
All performers will present oral interpretation with the exception of Kristen Apruzzese, who will present an informative speech about animation. Other members of the team include Richard Sheehan, Kristin Shelton, Jennifer Mills and Sean Feldman. The COC Speech Team, which has formally existed for two years, was created by COC President Dr. Diane Van Hook and nurtured by Victoria Leonard, Communications Department chair. Last year the team traveled to the national tournament held in Philadelphia and returned with a bronze medal.
The team is working with the COC Foundation to put together a fund-raising campaign, to pay for all 10 members to travel to the national two-year tournament in Kansas City in April. "At this point every one of the team members is working as if they are going to go," said Leach. "And each person is vital if we are to earn a top-five finish, which would be unrivaled for such a young program as ours."
Leach described competitive speech as a very precise and stylized event. "It's like ice skating," he said. "Going overtime or just one little slip up can cost you." Each participant has memorized a performance that is no more than 10 minutes, and at the end of the year each member will have memorized at least four presentations that total at least 40 minutes.
"As a former top speaker in America, I know what it takes to win, and now all we need to do is put in the hard work and the rest should take care of itself," Leach said
Leach attended Moorpark College and received the award of "Top Speaker" at the two-year national tournament in his first year of competition, with no previous experience. He later received his master's in speech communication at Cal State Los Angeles.
"Southern California is the most competitive region as far as community colleges in forensics," he said. "The showcase is to be a warm up for our largest local tournament called Fall Champs, which hopefully will set the winning tone for the rest of our season."
Those interested in the COC Speech Team should contact Leach before the beginning of the season next fall. For those wishing to learn more about oral interpretation, Leach will teach a course at COC in the spring for those with a performance background as well as those with no experience.
For additional information, contact Victoria Leonard at (661) 362-3441 or email at Victoria.Leonard@Canyons.edu.