‘Outsourced’ to Harvard

MN student wins Harvard National Forensics Tournament for the first time in team's history

Rylie Mendez, Staff Writer

When they announced his name, the sound was deafening. Hundreds of people stood to clap, and seven MN students roared in support as he walked onto the Sander’s Theater stage. Junior Pranay Mathur laughed in disbelief as he received the first place trophy for his performance in Humorous Interpretation (HI).

This past President’s Day weekend, over 1000  forensics students from around the country traveled to Cambridge, MA for the prestigious Harvard National Forensics Tournament. Forensics coach  Sabrina Denney Bull and assistant coach Jackson Gzehoviak chose eight students to travel and represent MN at the competition. 

“Pranay really cares about the event. [He] can put up an HI and be wildly successful right away because he has a clear knack for [it], though we didn’t quite understand how successful he would be at Harvard,” Gzehoviak said. 

Like many other students, Mathur was entered in multiple categories at Harvard. He performed in HI, Duo Interpretation (Duo), and Program of Oral Interpretation (POI). He octo-finaled in POI and Duo, but did the best with his HI, beating over 200 competitors to become the champion. 

Mathur’s HI, titled “Outsourced”, follows an American man whose business gets outsourced to India. His main character must adjust to his new environment and learn to appreciate the culture of the workers around him.

“The fun thing about this HI is how challenging it is. I get to play so many different characters, and each character has to have distinct postures, voices, and personalities. Watching people do HI is incredible, and performing it fills me with an even bigger thrill,” Mathur said. 

Normally, a competition has three rounds before their finals, but the Harvard tournament was more rigorous, putting the best students through six elimination rounds before they could make it to semi-finals. 

“I think the nerve-wracking thing is you don’t want to embarrass yourself if you forget something. I don’t think I was really scared until I got on stage, but after I was done I felt like I did a good job, and wherever I placed I’d be happy with it,” Mathur said. 

After being in HI for a few years, Mathur chose his own ways to incorporate characterization and blocking this year. He didn’t know if his work would earn him a place in the top three, but his teammates never doubted him. 

“After he went we were all really confident in his performance. I didn’t know if he’d win, but I knew he’d place high,” junior teammate Sree Koli said.

The forensics team has three more competitions before their season ends, and the best will get to compete in nationals in Texas. Pranay is predicted to place in HI at the national competition.  

“I think the cool thing about speech is you get to share a story that you’re passionate about and there are people that come up to you after you’re done and compliment you. That’s something you take with a lot of happiness—to inspire someone like that is amazing,” Mathur said.