Program Oral Interpretation

  • Event Category: Interpretive Event
  • Time Limit: 10 Minutes
  • Delivery Style: Manuscript

Program Oral Interpretation

A program of thematically-linked selections of literary merit, chosen from two or three recognized genres of competitive interpretation (Prose/Poetry/Drama). A substantial portion of the total time must be devoted to each of the genres used in the program. Different genre means that material must appear in separate pieces of literature (e.g. A poem included in a short story that appears only in the short story does not constitute a poetry genre). Use of a manuscript is required. The maximum time limit is 10 minutes, including an original introduction and/or transitions.

Competitors are reminded of AFA-NIET General Rule 6-k, which states: "Coaches and/or students must have available at the District and National NIET tournaments copies of all interpretive and original events used at the tournaments." Further, the AFA Code of Ethics specifies that "Competitors are expected to bring to tournaments a copy of the original inclusive text along with the student's script."

Program oral interpretation should be based on multiple selections drawn from at least two genres or types of literature and arranged in a theme-inspired program. One performer may elect to combine materials from the genres of poetry and prose, while another might choose to utilize drama, prose and poetry. All the literature chosen should be of literary merit. A central theme for the program should be clearly delineated and a balance between the genres of literature should be maintained. In developing a creative, relevant theme program, attention should be given to the design and organization of a cohesive and carefully conceived whole by the linking of authors and ideas inherent to the literature. An intellectually unified program is the desired result. Credit should be given for finding fresh literature, realizing that it is difficult to provide an individual interpretation of literature which is frequently performed. The selection of material for which a definitive interpretation has been widely seen, as in elimination rounds of recent national tournaments, should be discouraged.

Multiple characters may be developed to animate the interpretation. These characters should be distinct from each other, embodying definite gender, age, height, and other distinguishing characteristics which enliven authentic characterizations. Reliance on caricature or stereotype should be resisted unless justified by the literature. Credit should be given to unique and interesting delivery choices which enhance the program. Delivery should be either natural and believable or appropriate to the literature. In all cases, delivery must be unaffected and well executed.

Allowing for the demonstration of excellence in public speaking as well as in organizational and interpretive skills, the performance should include an original memorized introduction composed by the student, delivered, with manuscript closed, in accordance with the standards of good public speaking. Any transitions should be smooth and add clarity and coherence. The introduction should set the stage, enhancing the interpretation by relating the literature to the audience, providing necessary information and analysis to clarify the chosen theme. The use of alternative performative or interpretive styles should be justified, and multiple characters as well as multiple works and/or authors as well as their thematic linkages should be clarified. Performances ranging from 8 to 10 minutes are recommended; deviation from the time limit should be penalized according to the severity of the violation.


Program oral interpretation is one of the most interesting and creative of the "interp" events. POI allows students to demonstrate their intellect and creativity by selecting and arranging items from different genres (and usually different authors) into a cohesive theme. Program oral interpretation is useful for students who are interested in drama or radio theater.