Speech and debate members showcase oratory talents

Event intends to lure potential speech, drama students

By Christian Urrutia, Photo Editor

The topics and ideas presented by the speech and debate team piqued the interest of attendees during the annual Student Speaker Showcase at the Knox Center Thursday.

The fine and media arts and drama departments were incorporated in the event, showing student-made digital film shorts and revealing the technical aspects of theater and stage direction.

A preview scene of the upcoming play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” was also performed by the cast and introduced by the director, adjunct professor Terence Ivory.

Interim speech and debate team director John Perez gave a welcoming address alongside speech department Chairperson Sherry Diestler and adjunct speech professor Hans Craycraft.

Perez said the speech department wants students to join and participate on the speech and debate team, stating that since many attendees were there for extra credit, they were unlikely to know Contra Costa College has a forensics course and team.

It also provided for Perez, as an instructor, a chance to show his students what would be on the final in his forensics class — a parliamentary debate.

“For my first event, it was a huge success; almost half of my students showed. It was a great opportunity to show our ability as a forensics team,” Perez said.

Richmond resident Janice Sharpe expected a standard debate coming into the showcase, but was pleased with the varied acts she saw. Sharpe said she appreciated learning what she did about the technical side of theater, such as stage positions and terminology, as performed by the Drama 106 students.

Communications major and speech and debate team member DéAlaundria Gardner said the original poems she performed during her spoken word segment touched on subjects she felt particularly passionate about.

“The first poem focuses on how men use masculinity to overtake women, stages of maturity that are experienced with someone else, overcoming a façade of false male empowerment and being able to take in someone for who they are,” Gardner said.

She said the second one is about being at war with one’s self, adding that she stuck to topics people can relate to.

Sociology major Jordan Webster said he found the event enjoyable, particularly the poetry-speaking segment featuring “For Colored Girls” cast member Bridgett Lott, who was able to convey the pain and emotion behind the poem’s heartfelt message.

Webster said impromptu speaker Nick Delgado was also impressive, due to his strong impromptu segment where he had to quickly improvise a speech.

“My hat’s off to him,” Webster said. “Everything was off the top of his head.”

Fellow student Antonio Rojas-Cortes agreed.

Rojas-Cortes said, “(Delgado) was able to come up with a speech in a super short time and I didn’t realize how creative overall the entire speech and debate team is until this event.”

Digital film shorts were included in the schedule with other typical speech segments, such spoken word, informative speaking, impromptu speaking, oral interpretation of literature and a concluding parliamentary debate demonstration.

The shorts included quick, non sequitur videos and a short film entitled “School Scramble,” directed by fine and media arts student Sakeema Payne, who introduced the shorts.

Middle College High School freshmen Samuel Solis and Kyra Abrams thought the oral interpretation of literature by Diamonique Spain was most interesting due to the fictional character development and the simultaneous real-life counterpart, both commentating on sexual advances on women.

Abrams also said the parliamentary debate, which concerned college tuition with the anti-government side opposing free tuition and the pro-government side advocating free education, was effective in demonstrating convincing arguments.

“The (pro-government) side was convincing when they talked about certain things and I thought they had a strong argument using the president as one of their current examples,” she said.

Perez said, “We showed students what a debate looks like and how the debate structure works.”