ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
John Wiens likes the challenge of thinking creatively under pressure-and he enjoys humor.
Forensics has been the perfect outlet for both interests, according to the Goessel High School junior.
Specifically, Wiens has been focusing on improvisational duet acting as his primary event this year.
“That’s my favorite part of forensics,” he said. “It’s not as classically dramatic as the other events, but it really makes you think and makes you connect things that don’t necessarily connect. That’s a lot of fun for me.”
In improvisational duet acting-“IDA” in forensic parlance-two team members draw three characters from an envelope and then pick two of them to become, draw two places and pick one, and then draw two situations and pick one.
Then they have 30 minutes to write a scene incorporating those elements.
At a recent competition, Wiens picked the role of TV anchorman Ted Koppel, and his partner became “Lloyd the cameraman.” The situation? Having no working portable toilet while reporting from Iraq.
“Ted Koppel was just breaking down mentally,” Wiens said. “It was a lot of fun to do.”
Wiens said he became interested in forensics as a freshman because some of his friends were involved in it.
“I was kind of like, ‘What’s that about?’ and got a general idea what they were doing,” he said. “I talked to the coach about what it was and I figured this is something I’d try.”
From the start, Wiens has tried to have fun as he competes. As a freshman, he picked poetry as one event, but really enjoyed developing a “humorous interpretation” piece that the Monty Python humor troupe wrote about a dead parrot.
The results were mixed.
“The judges really liked it, but I got hammered for literary merit pretty consistently,” he said with a chuckle.
As a junior, Wiens’ goal is to qualify for state, which requires at least a second-place finish in regular competition. He just missed that requirement recently by finishing third in IDA, but he still has a meet or two to go.
Wiens said forensics has benefitted his development as a public performer.
“It really helps you to perform under pressure,” he said. “You have to go in there (to perform) three times every time. Usually, it’s just you and the judge and the time keeper.
“You have to portray what you can to the judge. You’re completely out there. There’s nobody who can help you with lines or anything.
“It really gets you comfortable with performing in front of an audience. You learn to have your material down almost completely before you go in there.”
Wiens recommends the program to others.
“You meet a lot of very interesting people and it helps you to get over stage fright,” he said. “You do have to have your material down pat, but you are (performing) in front of only one person-and you only have to deal with that one person instead of an entire audience.”