Drama and laughs on display at Festival
One thing both Annie Murrell and Ashley Panduro have in common — they both know how to display emotion. That is not a criticism but rather a way of saying they both proved they have the talent to do that in front of large groups of people while being judged on their performances. Murrell, a student at Chipman Jr. High, won with drama and Panduro from Washington Middle School won by provoking laughter at the 40th annual Kern County Oral Language Festival held on Feb. 12 at Norris Middle School in Bakersfield.
Neither had an easy task in front of them. Murrell faced a challenge from 12 other very talented student performers in the 7th-8th grade Serious Solo Interpretation event. Using self-control, Murrell forced her emotions to the background as she performed a presentation called, “You Shouldn’t Have to Say Goodbye.” The subject matter dealt with a young girl reacting to her mother dying from cancer.
“A lot of people in my family have died from cancer or had cancer,” Murrell said. “My aunt and grandmother both had breast cancer, and my grandpa had prostate cancer. He died from it. So, I could connect with the piece more, and it really made me feel the emotion that this girl was going through, as her mom was dying. I had to control my emotion so I wouldn’t break down, and it’s really hard to do that. When you start to, you have to remember it’s just a performance.”
Similarly, Panduro had to push herself into territory in which she had not previously ventured to win in the 7th-8th grade Humorous Solo Interpretation category. As was the case for Murrell, the talent of the students in her category was exceptional. Her winning delivery of “The Walkin’ Catfish,” was about a fish who talks itself out of ending up in a fisherman’s frying pan. It required Panduro to be believable speaking in a southern, Cajun kind of dialect. As if mastering that was not difficult enough, she also had to physically interpret how a catfish taking its last breaths might look and react.
“My coach picked out the piece for me, and I really like it because it required me to use an accent,” Panduro said. “It was, obviously, really hard, but I would practice in front of a lot of people to get used to the accent. I like to make people laugh and happy. I always like to be in competition, and I always like to be challenged in everything.”
Murrell and Panduro are good examples to use because they also place a value on how much education has played a role in their success.
“I have accomplished public speaking skills that will help me reach my goal of becoming an actress when I am older,” Panduro said. “This will help me in auditions and in memorizing scripts. It has boosted my confidence a lot and every time I perform it gets better.”
Murrell felt pretty much the same way.
“Every time you perform, your acting develops and your overall understanding of what you read just grows,” Murrell said. “You have to have a lot of nerve to stand up in front of a million people or two people, it doesn’t matter, you have to have enough courage to keep it together. Oral Language Festival really helps with that.”
To view the complete results from the 2011 Kern County Oral Language Festival click here.