P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box Time: Make it Memorable

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From en.wikipedia.com

US Academic Triathlon participants often compete against as many as eight other teams during a Meet, and they all have the same P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box prompts. It is up to the students to find ways to stand out and get noticed by the judges. Some judges use the first show they see to set a bar for all of the performances while others give preliminary scores and go back to adjust them after they’ve seen all of the shows. But no matter the style of the people on the panel that Meet, if the show is forgettable the scores will be lower.

Many of the prompts explicitly require the teams to showcase someone’s special skill as a part of their P.A.R.T.Y. solutions, but this is a good way to approach all of the challenges. Can anyone do funny impressions? Is there a juggler in the house? What about walking on one’s hands? There are lots of quirky little things that teams can share with their audience (and the judges), to make a show memorable.

Adding music is another great way to garner favor with the spectators. You don’t have to be a “good” singer to have a song make an impact. It can be a vehicle for moving the plot forward, a way to keep the audience busy during a scene change, or a mode of adding interest to a character. It is also an especially good way to build comedy into a show. Taking a song that people know and changing the lyrics in a clever way will almost always illicit chuckles. This is something that comes easily to some people, but it is also a skill that can be practiced.

It is also very important not to be remembered for the WRONG reasons. Having poor theater etiquette when it isn’t their turn or dissolving into giggles during a performance are both ways of making an impression on the judges, but in negative ways. Breaking the rules is another bad way to get noticed and the reputation can follow a team throughout a season. I was a judge during a performance once where they built their entire skit around a shirt that one of the students was wearing.

This is, of course, unfair to the other teams who were not provided with that shirt as part of their materials, and the other judges on the panel took it almost personally. In that case we decided that it was an innocent mistake and took off only 5 points from their overall raw score, but depending on the infraction a team could lose much more. And I can say from that experience it was difficult to judge the rest of their skit separate from the “cheating issue”, and I am sure that they received a lower overall score as a result. The skits are the responsibility of the students, but coaches should also make sure they understand the rules to avoid any inadvertent loss of points.

I am the Creative Director and Webmaster for US Academic Triathlon. I write the curriculum for Meets, as well as the enrichment activities and articles for this site. Peggy Sheldon, the Founder of USAT, is my mother so I have been living and breathing the program since it was founded over 30 years ago.

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Posted in For Coaches and Teachers, For Hosts and Facilitators, For Kids, P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box, Resources
5 comments on “P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box Time: Make it Memorable
  1. […] for more P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box tips? Check out the rest of the series: Front and Center, Make it Memorable, Backdrops Set the Scene, Costumes Make the Characters, and Props Add […]

  2. […] out the other PARTY posts for more tips! Make it Memorable Costumes Make the Characters Backdrops Set the Scene Props Add […]

  3. […] Make it Memorable […]

  4. […] In other words, the final image needs to have some connection to the opening image, and is often a mirror (be it fun house-style or just a normal one). This brings the story full circle, and leaves the audience with the feeling that all is right in the world. For a P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box skit, this is the perfect time to tell the judges the moral of the story to drive home how the team has come to understand and illustrate the theme. Plus, it’s the last opportunity to really “wow” them with a special talent or comedic relief. The old showbiz adage of “always leave them wanting more” couldn’t be truer! Judges often adjust their scores after they’ve seen all the shows in order to make sure the scoring is fair. If the story ends with a bang, it’s much easier for them to remember what they’ve seen, even if a team gave their performance at the beginning. So, don’t forget to make it memorable! […]

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