Student Writes an All-State Performing Piece

The cast of “Trigger Warning,” a choral reading written by Clarissa Player, performed the piece at All State Speech.

By Alina Merlak

Unlike most events that make it to All-State, or any other competition during the speech season in general, Mount Vernon’s choral reading group, titled “Trigger Warning,” was written by one if its cast members, junior Clarissa Player. On Saturday, Iowa State’s campus hosted the Large Group All-State Speech Festival. All-State is the last and most prestigious competition during the large group speech season. Speech teams from all over Iowa came to watch and perform pieces that qualified for the festival. Mount Vernon arrived in Ames with five groups performing and three groups with honorable mentions.

The piece’s roots sprouted all the way back to last year’s speech season when Player wrote an original oratory about her personal struggles with self esteem for individual speech. “And then I got the idea. Hey, maybe this would make a good choral reading!” said Player. With help from coach/director Grant Freeman, and other performers sophomores Quinnie Rodman, Grace Krapfl, Alanah Malone, Sam White, and junior Maggie Lynott she started writing the script. To get it started everyone talked about their opinions on rape culture and experiences with self esteem. “The piece was very personal, not just to me but to everyone in the group,” said Player. The group got together twice a week from November through February to either add more to the script or rehearse, and were ready for competitions by January.

“Trigger Warning” became a piece about proudly being a woman in society with emphasis on the rape culture that we live in and the way it makes women think about themselves. During their 15 minute time limit, the six told statistics and their characters’  stories about dealing with these topics. They also acted out scenes like a preteen slumber party, a police questioning, and even a game show to get their message across in a satirical way, but staying on focus and serious at the same time.

The group was nervous about performing “Trigger Warning” because of its topic. But with each rehearsal Player and the rest of the girls gained more confidence in their piece. “I thought at first, maybe this will do good and we’ll make it to state, and then we ended up making it to All-State and it completely defied all of my expectations,” said Player. “I stepped on the stage at All-State and almost started crying because I was so happy. It was hands-down one of the best experiences of my life.”

With the tough topic and all of the preparation for the piece, this group’s journey was not easy. “We had a lot of emotional breakdowns from everyone in the cast,” said Player. “It was a really hard area to talk about and very tough to work through, but we did and we all became very close because of that.” In the end, Player believes that the struggle was worth the friendships she gained and the message she spread through the piece. “I really hope it makes someone think about the way they view women, and think about the words they use when they talk about women or each other in general,” said Player. “I don’t think we realize all the time on how our words and actions have an impact on each other.”