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Speech & Debate

Speech & Debate
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Stephen Karam
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 97
Pub. Date: 2008
ISBN-10: 0822222868
ISBN-13: 9780822222866
Cast Size: 2 female, 2 male

About the Play:

Speech & Debate has become a favourite of acting teachers for Female Monologues.

Speech & Debate is a full-length comedy by Stephen Karam. Three misfit teenagers are brought together to uncover the truth about a sex scandal in their school, with nobody taking them seriously until they speak out. Secrets become currency, the stakes get higher, and the trio's connection grows deeper in this fiercely funny play by the Tony Award-winning author of The Humans.

Speech & Debate is about a trio of high school outcasts who find themselves allied, for better or worse, as they attempt to bring down a teacher who preys on his students. The mayor's been seducing underage boys in chat rooms, and after the newspaper publishes an expose, sixteen year old wannabe journalist Solomon makes it his goal to take down another closeted pedophile – one who walks the halls of his high school. He seeks help from Diwata, who, on her blog, claims to have dirt on the drama teacher (but may just be angry she wasn't cast in Once Upon a Mattress). She directs him to Howie, an openly gay transfer student from Portland who only wants to finish his senior year without anyone noticing he exists. Under the cover of a speech and debate team, these three very different teens band together in an attempt to take down the teacher, but in the process they each bring to the surface their own deeply guarded secrets. A dark comedy, Speech & Debate is a fast paced, poignant and laugh-out-loud funny examination of three people trying to straddle the line between adult ambition and adolescent bravado.

Speech & Debate premiered in 2006 as a workshop production at Brown/Trinity Playwrights Repertory Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island before ultimately opening Off Broadway where it became a runaway hit in 2007 as the inaugural production in a 65-seat black box space called the Roundabout Underground in New York City. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is regularly performed in regional, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 2 female, 2 male

What people say:

"…savvy comedy…bristling with vitality, wicked humor, terrific dialogue and a direct pipeline into the zeitgeist of contemporary youth… Karam has a keen ear for how teens talk, move and think, how they view each other and the adult world…and uses both the advantages and perils of cyberspace to make amusing, original points…." — Variety

"A triumph… hilarious, cliché-free, and immensely entertaining… Stephen Karam's dark comedy seems to be about a frumpy girl, a nerdy guy and an openly gay guy who band together to disclose the truth about a teacher who preys on his male students. But that topical plot is almost window dressing. The play's real accomplishment is its picture of the borderland between late adolescence and adulthood, where grown-up ideas and ambition coexist with childish will and bravado." — New York Times

"A strong, rangy play…beautifully nails the indirection and crossed-wire communication of teenagers bubbling over with contradictory needs and insecurities."New York Newsday

"Karam comes through as a writer whose voice is clear, laugh-out-loud funny and uncannily tuned to the way teens talk." — New York Daily News

"One of the top ten plays of the year… Even if you're not fluent in IM, you'll LOL at this subversive comedy… Mordant misfits Diwata, Solomon, and Howie come together via circumstance and learn valuable lessons: Sometimes you've got to 'hold it in,' as The Crucible's plucky Puritan Mary tells a sexually confused Abe Lincoln. And sometimes you need to crank up [the music], strip down to a nude body stocking, make like Martha Graham, and let it out." — Entertainment Weekly

"Flat-out funny… Sex, secrets and hypocrisy are the themes that tie the play together… Stephen Karam has an outstanding ear for how young people talk." — Associated Press

About the Playwright:

Stephen Karam is an American playwright. He is the Tony Award-winning author of The Humans, Sons of the Prophet and Speech & Debate. For his work he's received two Drama Critics Circle Awards, an OBIE Award and is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist. He grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania and is a graduate of Brown University.

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