You get disqualified if you don't have your hands behind your back.
August 1, 2015 10:45 PM   Subscribe

American schoolkids had spelling bees, British schoolkids had Shakespeare competitions, Malaysian schoolkids had choral speaking: a Greek-theatre-inspired cross between spoken word and choir, commonly used to teach English.

While the concept is not unique to Malaysia, it has definitely become a core part of Malaysian education, with Government guidelines for national competitions, schools marking it as cornerstones of their history, and feel-good pieces about country bumpkin schools beating out the city kids.

Choral speaking scripts run the gamut, but tend to follow common themes such as teenage life, school days (including boarding schools and teachers), media and arts, as well as how Malaysia is awesome (or not). Besides the script and the performance, the conductors are also graded, leading to them adding their own flair.

While choral speaking tends to be for secondary/high schoolers, sometimes primary/elementary schoolers get in on the fun.
posted by divabat (10 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Mic check?
posted by zachlipton at 11:51 PM on August 1, 2015

When I was working in Malaysia, teachers just took it for granted that I would be involved with their choral speaking clubs and assumed that I was an expert for some reason. Imagine their chagrin when I had to explain that I had no idea what it was.
posted by Literaryhero at 12:01 AM on August 2, 2015

British schoolkids had Shakespeare competitions,

As the bard has it, 'chinny reckon'.
posted by biffa at 12:11 AM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

(For readers not versed in classical English literature and arts Biffa is declaring in the old tongue that that there is some doubt on the suggestion of a British schoolchild engaging in shakespeare competitions. Indeed that the notion is farcical in the extreme.)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:23 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: You get disqualified if you don't have your hands behind your back.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:57 AM on August 2, 2015

Wow! That must take some diction and timing skills.

Also, could we do without or replace scribd links? They ask to install an app or become a member for something that could be read on a Web page. And most of their content equivalent is easily available somewhere else.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 6:40 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

This reminds me distinctly of close order swanning about.
posted by argybarg at 6:43 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I did this as a kid in Bakersfield, California! There it was called verse choir and was one of the options you could compete in for the citywide Oral Language Festival. I was in 7th grade and had a team that consisted of me and five of my friends. We chose our speaking piece (Today Was A Terrible Day by Patricia Reilley Giff) and did all of the planning about how to divide up who speaks and when ourselves. (We got help from moms with the typing, layout, and formatting of our scripts, printed on state of the art dot matrix printers.)

We all spoke simultaneously for narrative parts, and then assigned combinations of two or three people to each character. So two of the girls were the voice of teacher Ms. Tyler, three of us were protagonist Ronald Morgan, and two were nemesis Rosemary. We put a lot of work into crafting distinct voices for the characters, and there was also a lot of physical "business" to go along with the recitation. So for the line "I think the plant monitor has forgotten to water the plants. Again," the girls would speak in Ms. Tyler's high-pitched voice while putting their hand on their chin in a thinking pose, which would finish with a huge sigh on the word "uh-GAIN".

I was probably 13 when I performed this and I'm 40 now and can still recite, with appropriate voice and gestures, almost that entire book. It was crazy fun for a bunch of nerds.
posted by MsMolly at 9:02 AM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

TheLittlePrince : weird, I wasn't asked to log in and I don't think I have a Scribd account. Scribd is where people tended to post choral speaking scripts.
posted by divabat at 9:20 AM on August 2, 2015

I tried it on a smartphone and it didnt show anything except options to download an app or sign in.

On a laptop, it shows the first page for free and then asks me to sign in or join to read further.

And Ghostery tells me the idiots have 51 trackers on the page.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 7:21 AM on August 4, 2015

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