On the heels of a successful state championship, PCC’s Speech and Debate team prepared for its upcoming national competition by showcasing award-winning performances in “A Night of Interpretation” on Thursday.Despite the pouring rain, sociology major Ishmael Bracy was one of the nearly 75 students, staff and family members who came out to the Vosloh Forum to support the team.

“It’s just nice to see an artsy, sophisticated event on campus,” he said.

The night began with a dramatic interpretation by Brian Hy about a Chinese-American boy trying to fit in at his predominantly white school in Connecticut. His character deals with fits of rage as he deals with the alienation and depression over his parents’ impending divorce. The performance had dark, yet humorous elements and seemed to strike a chord with the audience as Hy channeled different emotions.

Hy was one of the 13 team members who won medals at the California Community College Forensic Association State Championship in Woodland Hills the previous weekend. The team placed fourth overall in the state. Hy won silver for this competition, as well as a bronze in prose interpretation.

“We’re really proud of what the team has accomplished this year,” said Forensics co-director Josh Fleming. “We knew going into state championships that we would have to have an exceptional showing to stay in the top five… What they achieved is really amazing.”

Telling a tale about falling in, and consequently out of, love, Brian Poladian and Jamie Hammond performed a duo interpretation that won them both bronze medals at state. Hammond managed to still the audience with her voice as she not only acted, but sang for a few moments during her performance. Poladian also won two bronze medals for prose and dramatic interpretations. Hammond received an additional bronze for informative speaking.

Jeff Valdevieso used his deep voice to capture the audience in his silver medal-winning prose interpretation about an ordinary guy who just can’t get the mother of his child to marry him.

“I loved how there was a variation of themes and a different styles of performances,” said English major Alex Jimenez. “It was pretty dynamic.”

First-year speaker Carl Trigilio brought home a gold medal for his prose interpretation of a gay man who no longer believed in God. His face was wrought with emotion as he conveyed his character’s loss as his religious, yet supportive mother lay on her deathbed.

Trigilio is one of the 11 team members traveling to Greenwich, Conn. to perform at the upcoming Phi Rho Pi National Speech and Debate Championship from April 12 through 16.

“Going to nationals for the first time is pretty intimidating, but having such a supportive team alleviates most of my nerves,” he said. “I definitely look forward to walking into every single one of my rounds not just as a competitor, but as a performer.”

At the state competition, Trigilio also won bronze in duo interpretation and silver in informative speaking.

One of the most memorable performances of the showcase was Jedi Curva’s program oral interpretation about breakdancing “post-subculture.” Through the use of body rolls and pop-and-lock techniques, it’s no wonder he earned a gold medal at state for his performance.

Curva cites support as the main reason for his success and hopes to pay it forward. “Since I’m a returning member, my main goal for this entire year is to provide the same type of support that was given to me last year by the returning members, to the new members here now,” he said. Curva also won bronze medals in both duo interpretation and prose interpretation.

The final performance was a duo interpretation by Kevin Lopez and Tiffiny Vuong. Together, they transported the audience to a barrel over the waters of the Niagara Falls as they shared the story of Annie Taylor, the first person to survive a trip down the waterfall.

Lopez won bronze in both poetry interpretation and dramatic interpretation. Vuong is a “retiring senior” this year, who hopes to continue forensics when she transfers to Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. She won silver in the after-dinner speaking competition at state and will perform in three events at nationals.

“It would be great to win golds [at nationals], but I’m looking forward to doing the best I can, having a good time and learning from my competitors,” she said.

Fleming has high hopes for the team at nationals. “We’re looking forward to nationals and believe that we’ve got a good chance to repeat if not improve on last year’s success,” he said. In 2010, the team took gold in the mid-school division and 7th in the nation.

Additional awards for the state competition went to: Alex Heyn, bronze in parliamentary debate; Alex Ortega, bronze in impromptu speaking; Anabel Solano, silver in both impromptu speaking and parliamentary debate; Andrew Matthews, bronze in parliamentary debate; and Ashley Mendez, bronze in Lincoln-Douglas debate, silver in parliamentary debate, gold in both impromptu speaking and extemporaneous speaking. Team members Alex Campise, Jimmy Recinos, and Kidada Malloy were also in attendance.

Tiffiny Vuong, front, and Kevin Lopez performed a duo interpretation at the Speech and Debate team’s showcase on Thursday. (Louis C. Cheung)

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