BHS pair competing at nationals

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 18, 2007

Ryan Breeland and Darren White are talkers, and apparently amongsome of the best of their age in the nation.

The two recent Brookhaven High School graduates are attendingthe National Forensics Competition from June 17-22 in Topeka,Kansas. Both boys say the event is a great way to end their highschool forensics careers.

Breeland, who performed some poems by Shel Silverstein for agroup of children Thursday at the library, said he felt it wassomething of a rite of passage.

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“When I was little, I would have loved something like this,” hesaid. “I have always enjoyed performing. It’s kind of like passingthe baton.”

White was not able to perform for the kids, but he said gettingto go to nationals is definitely a watermark in his mind.

“It’s a bittersweet end to my high school years. Whether I dowell or not, doesn’t matter. It’s just getting there that counts,”said White, who joined the BHS forensics team as a junior.

BHS Forensics Coach Carol Clanton said the two boys are amongsome of the most memorable students she’s taught in her years inthe art.

“Their leaving is going to be hard for me,” she said. “Whateverthey do when they get out in the world, I can’t say it will curethe common cold, but what they will do will be amazing. I alwaysknew these two were exceptionally gifted.”

Part of the gift, both boys say, has to do with the charactersthey have built for their performances over the years.

“It’s voices and characters I’ve always had in my head eversince I was a child, entertaining myself and family members,” saidWhite. “There are characters from the real world, too, like I havea poem that’s George Bush talking to farm animals. My charactersare just a mixture of people around me and the millions of people Ihave inside of my head.”

Breeland, who will perform Bettie Jane Wiley’s “Jason” atnationals, said it takes practice to keep the transitions betweencharacters clean sometimes. “Jason” is about a mentally handicappedman interviewing for an assisted living complex, but he will haveto do that dramatic interpretation on the same day he performsthings like the Silverstein poems, which have silly characters.

“When you have short pieces like the poetry, the charactersaren’t as deep or rounded as a character like Jason,” he said. “Butonce you figure out a system, going from one character to the othergets a lot easier. Then it becomes second nature.”

Both boys stressed the importance of literary exposure to makingtheir forensics forays a success.

“As a kid, I read a lot of books, I was always reading,” saidWhite. “I kind of stopped because it was put on us so much once wegot further up in school that I got a little burnt out on it. Butthe voices I’d hear in my head as I read definitely influenced whatI do now.”

Breeland said Silverstein and Dr. Seuss were two very importantinfluences to him as a child.

“Silverstein is a lot like Dr. Seuss because the stories andpoetry do have a point,” he said. “Silverstein is not as epic asDr. Seuss, but I think if you can hold a child’s attention for aminute and a half like he can, it’s an accomplishment.”

White said Dr. Seuss also had an impact on his forensicscareer.

“Dr. Seuss had one of my favorite quotes, and it’s ‘Be who youare and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter andthose who matter don’t mind,'” he said. “That’s the one piece ofadvice I’d give anyone, especially those who are going intoforensics. It’s about saying what you feel, being yourself anddoing your best.”

And both boys also look to Clanton as a major source ofencouragement and inspiration through their years in forensics.

“I’m so happy to have had Mrs. Clanton for a number of reasons,”said Breland. “I had three teachers who were real inspirations, butshe was my number one support.”

White said Clanton’s help was a great complement to the talentand chemistry of the forensics team.

“She definitely has the experience needed to get us to where weare, and she’s done a great job of it,” he said. “For me, oursuccess comes from her and the entire team, her experience andknowledge and everything we know as well.”

Clanton was thankful for the praise, and passed it on to herhigher-ups as well.

“I owe so much to having a great and supportive school board,superintendent, and principal,” she said. “Their support is soappreciated and necessary. It’s been such a help to have them onour side.”

White will be attending Copiah-Lincoln Community College in thefall, where he will major in communications. Breeland will attendthe University of Mississippi and major in forensics andtheater.