Drama Guidelines/Rulebook





Maine Principals' Association

Maine Drama Council


Table of Contents
Festival Registration and Timetable Festival Weekend Scheduling Information for Judges
Eligibility Judging Responsibilities of the MPA Representative
New England Eligibility Critiques Maine Principals' Association Drama Committee
Script Selection Disqualification Maine Drama Council Governing Board
Royalties and Cuttings Protests Drama Scoring Procedure
Performance Regulations Awards Drama Scoring Explained
Site Assignments and Host Schools Liability Drama Scoring Chart
Tech Day Hosting Information

Judges Score Sheets

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Maine Drama Festival

Expanded Rules 2016-2017

Festival Registration and Timetable

Registration in the Festival is a multi-step procedure. Deadlines change each year. The registration steps are as follows:


Step2016-2017 Timetable
1. MPA bulletin available on the MPA website (www.mpa.cc) Late September
2. Initial registration form due December 9
3. Final registration forms due (Download from this site.) January 10
4. Host directors deliver final festival information
and forms to schools that will be attending their regional
Approximately February 1
5. Program information and forms to
your host director
By the end of February vacation
6. Tech day regionals February
7. Regional Festivals March 10-11
8. Regional winners receive information from
state festival hosts
At the regional festival awards ceremony
9. Tech day for state festivals March
10. Finals -- Class A & Class B March 24-25
12. New England Festival (Old Saybrook HS, Old Saybrook, CT) April 20-22, 2017



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A participating school must be a member of the MPA. The director shall be an adult employed by the school and be responsible for the production. In the event that the play is student-directed, the registration form must be signed by the supervisory staff person designated as responsible for the production. This person or the director will be in attendance throughout the festival.

Performers in the Maine Drama Festivalshall be students in grades 9-12 and must meet local eligibility standards.  Schools with fewer than 80 students in their high school building (9-12) may use 8th graders.  Only students who meet all MPA eligibility rules at the participating school may take part in the acting performance in any way (e.g. to play music or speak live through a microphone, etc.).  All aspects of the technical performance of the play must also be run only by MPA eligible students.  Adults or former students may not run light boards, spotlights, sound systems, call cues over headsets, or prompt.  Breaking this rule will result in disqualification.  The only time that adult involvement is permitted is during the five-minute set up and strike.

Thirty participants (cast, crew, and adults) will be provided admission credentials; schools registering more than 30 will be charged $5 for each additional person.

No live animals may be used in a production.



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New England Eligibility

Schools wishing to be eligible for advancement from the State Festival to the New England Festival must file the eligibility form (download from this site) and pay the registration fee to the MDC chair prior to the regional festival.


Script Selection

Script selections should be reflective of the maturity level of the performers and in keeping with the family-type audience that is usually in attendance. Directors and principals must be sensitive to the appropriateness of their script choices, particularly when another host school is providing your venue. Principals and directors who choose scripts with language or situations that could offend audiences at a host school should consider seriously the literary value of their choice. In addition to script considerations, use of props and the onstage actions of the actors and actresses during a performance should not reflect gratuitous or inappropriate sexual content.

Directors should inform their Host Directors if their performance contains sensitive material that might warrant a note in the program or a pre-show announcement to audience members.

A script designated in a play catalog as "Musical Theater", "Musical", "Play with Music", etc. shall not be permitted whether or not the music from that play is used in the production. Music and/or choreographed movement may be used to enhance a non-musical production. Using the "book" from a musical, however, is not allowed even though the music itself from the show is not used. It is not the intention of the festival to perform musical theater. If a director is unsure of the status of a play, he/she should consult with the MDC chairperson in advance of committing to the play. When in any doubt, written confirmation from the publishing house that the piece in question is not musical theater should be secured before committing to the production, since such written permission shall be the final authority if the production is questioned.


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Royalties, Cuttings, Adaptations

When applicable, permission must be obtained (in writing) from the publishing company for the rights to perform a production. All royalties must be prepaid prior to the performance. Permission in writing must also be obtained to cut a work, combine several parts of a script, or to otherwise change the format of the selection. Copyright laws require this and non-compliance may result in disqualification. If a protest is filed and proper documentation cannot be immediately produced, a director will be given three days to provide documentation proving that the proper permissions were obtained and royalties were paid prior to the performance. To avoid problems, all directors should have proper paperwork with them at the festival.

The signature of the principal on the registration forms indicates approval of the script/production, and guarantees compliance with respect to copyrights and royalties.

The MPA and the MDC disclaim any responsibility for violation of production or copyright rights by participating schools.

Performance Regulations

 Time Limits

The time allowed for each production is 35 minutes with a five-minute grace period. Any production that exceeds 40 minutes (even if only by one second) will be automatically disqualified.

Each school shall also be permitted five minutes to set up its play and five minutes to strike. Any production that exceeds five minutes at either end (even if only by one second) will be disqualified.

Set up and/or strike time may not be used to extend the overall playing time of 40 minutes. If a director requests the judges to be in attendance during set up or strike, the portion of the set up and/or strike the judges have been asked to witness becomes part of the performance time and is subject to the overall limit of 40 minutes.

Technical Limitations

Because of the different physical limitations at each host site, the official size for stage pieces has been arbitrarily limited to anything that will fit through a standard doorway (designated as 32" x 78”). Within this limitation, each host school tech director may use his or her own discretion in accommodating the sets for individual productions. At a site with larger stage doors, set pieces larger than the "official" size are permitted. It is important only that hosts spell out the limitations to visiting directors. Directors should also be aware that although some Regional sites have double doors, some State sites might have single ones and vice versa. Host directors will attempt to accommodate schools in a consistent manner. A director who is unfamiliar with the host site assigned is advised to visit that site or at least to ask for stage specifications before finalizing a set design.

At any level of the festival, any school may use supplemental lighting, sound, stage equipment, etc. Any special lights or other equipment that a school wishes to pre-install must be cleared and approved by the host director, and must be in place before noon on tech day. In the case where a school cannot have a piece of equipment installed before noon on tech day, directors must clearly communicate their desired installations to their host director by the same deadline. In this way, the host director can ensure that all other directors are aware of the equipment's availability. Pre-installed equipment should be available for use by any school. All other special lights or equipment must be installed and removed during the five-minute limits. It is the responsibility of individual directors to keep their host director apprised of any special situations that might apply to their production.

The use of liquids on-stage will be limited to a maximum of 5 gallons subject to host school policies.

Even though all special equipment should be available to any school, occasionally the performance schedule makes this difficult. If a school wants to use a special light or piece of equipment that was installed by another school, and if this requires it to be moved, re-gelled, or refocused, the return of the equipment to the requirements of the installing school shall not be subtracted from that school's 55-minute tech check or their five-minute set up.

Fire and safety regulations may vary according to the individual sites. Smoking in a production will result in disqualification (although any object that is unlit may be used as a hand prop). Any open flame (e.g. candle, kerosene lamp, candle enclosed in glass, oil lamp, etc.) will be cause for disqualification. The use of pyrotechnics of any kind (flash pots, flash paper, flash paper guns and other small theatrical flash products) is prohibited.

Because of the prevalence of new weapons policies at many schools, the intended use in a production of any weapon (gun, knife, etc.) should receive prior approval of the host director. The host school shall determine the parameters of use of its facility based on its own pre-existing school rules and regulations. Such rules and regulations shall take precedence over MPA or MDC rules and regulations. Any problems that might occur should be communicated well in advance of any deadline in order to avoid disqualification.

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Site Assignments

After schools have filed final registration forms in January, the festival site coordinator will work with the MPA to establish the rosters for individual regional festivals. Assignment to sites will be based on geographic location if possible. There will be numerous regional sites with an attempt to balance the number and ratio of Class A and Class B schools at each site.

Once site assignments have been finalized, directors will be contacted directly by the host director of their regional. Host directors will mail (or email) an information packet containing a stage diagram, lighting plot, sound availability, etc. Also included will be requests for information from the visiting directors regarding final registration, program information, meal service and other information specific to the school's regional. It is important to have all the requested information back to the host director by the end of February vacation in order for a draft of the festival program to be ready for proofreading on tech day.


Tech Day

On the Saturday preceding each festival, the host facility shall be available for visiting directors and tech personnel (not the entire cast). Tech Day is an informative session when the host facility is examined, special equipment is installed, and important festival information is reviewed. It is expected that all directors attend or send an appropriate representative (not a student). Any school unable to attend Tech Day should notify its host director in advance. The possibility of an alternative time for schools with conflicts is up to the host director, but in any event should take place before Tech Day.

Host directors will attempt to devise a schedule for Tech Day that will ensure all special installations are in place in time for a general meeting (at around 11 a.m.) Schools without special installations would presumably not need to come until the time of this meeting.

The following should be covered at the general meeting

  • Specifics concerning load-in and out of the building and the stage.
  • Demonstration of all lights in the rep plot. It is understood that the lights for the basic setup will be properly patched, aimed, focused, and gelled so that what is being demonstrated is what will actually be available.
  • Demonstration of all specials that are hung (including your own) or at least where you’ll be hanging them.
  • Demonstration of the sound equipment.
  • Demonstration of any other equipment they should know about.
  • Review of the tech check procedures.
  • Review of the procedures for setup/strike.
  • Review of the schedule for festival weekend (including times for tech checks, performances, director's meeting, and any other planned activities).

Tech Day is a time for each visiting director to proof/update their program information with the host director.

Tech Day is the time to resolve complications resulting from advance requests and from built-in limitations within the facility. It is also time for all special equipment to be installed/demonstrated.

Tech Day is the time to check rough focus of special lights, ensure that the lighting and sound systems will reproduce desired effects, take detailed measurements of stage/access points/site lines, proofread program information, and to double check procedures for festival weekend.

Tech Day is the time for light and sound board operators to familiarize themselves with the technology at the host school. The Host Director should schedule additional/extra time (on Tech Day) for any students/directors who might need to familiarize themselves with the operation of the equipment at the host site (light board, sound board etc.)

Tech Day is NOT the time to fine-focus special lights, set light or sound levels, or to bring in scenery pieces (flat-pattern floor pieces are acceptable). Tech Day is definitely not a time to rehearse any part of the play.

Participating schools should be considerate of other schools in their use of time on Tech Day

If extensive installations are anticipated, the director(s) involved should make prior arrangements with the host director to install said equipment as early as permitted. It is recommended that Tech Day be scheduled so that schools with special installations come early, and schools with few special requests come following any special installations. This will ensure that all equipment is available to all schools. Participating schools should be considerate of other schools in their use of time on Tech Day.

Visiting schools must furnish their own special equipment if it is not available at the host site. If a particular piece of equipment that a director wants to use is not available through the host school, he/she must supply whatever is needed to hook it up or retrofit the existing equipment as necessary. The supplying of extra cables, adapters, gels, gel frames, gaff tape, etc. is NOT the responsibility of the host school.

In the event that a participating school is installing or otherwise furnishing equipment that is unknown or unfamiliar to other schools, the school that supplied the equipment must also supply a technician on tech day as well as during the festival weekend to assist any other school that wishes to use the equipment.

Dealing with special situations:

Example One: School X would like to install a strobe over the center stage, but they need it during the week for a performance. The solution is for the host to inform all other directors on Tech Day that one will be available during the weekend.

Example Two: School Y has a conflict and finds it impossible to drive 250 miles each way for Tech Day, and they would like to install four 6" x 12" Lekos with gobos. The solution is for the host to clearly inform all the directors on tech day of their availability, and then make sure they are ready for tech checks on the Friday of festival weekend. Usually good communication will avoid problems, but the host should be clear on one point. Any equipment that is not in place for demonstrating on Tech Day (or indicated by the host that it will be in place) must be installed and removed during the five-minute set up/strike time.


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Festival Program Information

Festival programs are the responsibility of the festival host who relies on the timely arrival of information from participating schools. Schools are asked to email their program information to hosts before the end of February vacation. This way, hosts can format a rough copy that is available for proofreading on Tech Day. The following information needs to be provided:



Setting/Synopsis of scenes

Cast (in order of appearance)
Character                     Actor’s name
Character                     Actor’s name
Character                     Actor’s name
Character                     Actor’s name
Character                     Actor’s name


Director                       Director’s name *
Technical Director         Technical Director’s name
Stage Manager            Stage Manager’s name
Set Design                  Set Designer’s name
Lighting                       Crew names
Sound                         Crew names
Costumes                   Crew names
Makeup                      Crew names
Other production information

Copyright information
Produced by special arrangement with …

Please Note: It is important to use asterisks to indicate adult involvement. Only student-generated aspects of the production are eligible for awards.

Festival Weekend

The host director will determine the schedule for the weekend. Schedules will vary at each site, depending upon the number of schools performing, the distances traveled, and any special scheduling requests by individual schools. Any school that has a scheduling conflict making it necessary to perform on a specific day or at a specific time (e.g. local school rules about early dismissal, availability of bus for transportation, students with conflicting school responsibilities, etc.), must make the host director aware of its special needs well in advance. Once the final festival schedule is made up, it may not be possible to switch the performances or tech times.

The host director will set the order of presentations and tech checks taking the following factors into consideration:

1. Schedule conflicts by participating schools (jazz festival, sports events, D.I., O.M., etc.)
2. Presentation of a balanced program (three heavy dramas in the same session is not a good idea)
3. Technical considerations (set storage problems, or the aiming of lights, etc.)
4. Other factors that may affect the smooth operation of the festival.

Sample Festival Schedule
Tech checks (if possible). Schools cannot be required to tech on Thursday.


Tech Checks
11:00 am         Tech check 1
12 noon           Tech check 2
1:00 p.m.         Tech check 3
2:00 p.m.         Tech check 4
3:00 p.m.         Tech check 5
4:00 p.m.         Tech check 6

Evening Performances (Recommended starting time 6:00 or 6:30 p.m.)
Performance 1
Performance 2
Performance 3
Critiques follow the last performance

Tech Checks
8:00 a.m.         Tech check 7
9:00 a.m.         Tech check 8
10:00 a.m.       Tech check 9
4:00 p.m.         Tech check (slot if necessary)

Afternoon Performances (Recommended starting time 11:30 or 12:00 noon)
Performance 4
Performance 5
Performance 6

Evening Performances (Recommended starting time 6:00 or 6:30 p.m.)
Performance 7
Performance 8
Performance 9

If there are 10 schools, it is best to run 4 performances on Friday with a 5:30 or 6:00 start.

All students should attend all festival performances unless prohibited by preparations for their own production. Directors are expected to inform their students about this rule and to assist with compliance.

Tech Checks

Each school will be allowed 55 minutes. The 55 minutes includes any time for set-up and strike. This time can be used to familiarize actors with the theater, practice getting the scenery into place, set voice levels, fine-focus and gel special lights, set light and sound levels, and to spike for scenery.

During tech checks, schools will work with the host technical staff to clarify light board setup/patch etc. This is the time to program cues if necessary. Host technical staff should assist visiting light board operators who are unfamiliar with the host equipment. This is also the time to re-gel where necessary (you provide your own gels and frames), set extension cords (you provide your own), and to reassure that set pieces will get onto the stage.

During your school's tech time, the auditorium will be closed to all other schools. Technical specialists from the host school and/or schools providing specialized equipment will be available in the auditorium. There will be no infringement on this time by the host school for festival purposes unless the school whose tech check it is gives permission.

If a participating school should need to do repair work after its set has been unloaded or moved around during tech checks, it should check with the festival tech director as to where the work may be done.

5-minute Setup/Strike

Just prior to performance, each school will put up its set in under five minutes using the procedure below. The same procedure will also be used for timing the strike at the end of the performance. Exceeding the setup/strike time by even 1 second will result in disqualification.

At some sites schools may be allowed to load pieces into the wings before the 5-minute setup begins. This is at the discretion of the host director and if it is permitted, this should be made clear to all directors in advance of Festival weekend. It is not permitted for a school to take this opportunity to pre-assemble any set pieces.

  • Setup and strike are limited to exactly 5 minutes each. They are to be timed with a stopwatch.
  • There will be a backup timer, but this watch will be used only in case the official timer’s watch malfunctions.
  • After reviewing the procedures with the cast and crew of a school, the crew who need to go to the booth will be allowed to go. They should be timed separately.
  • The official timer will say “Is everyone ready?” When they are, the timer will say “5,4,3,2,1, GO.”
  • As each successive minute passes, the timer will call out “You have 4 minutes left. You have 3 minutes left. You have 2 minutes left. You have 1 minute left.”
  • If the school has not yet cleared the stage when 1 minute is called, the timer will then call the time out at the following intervals (loud enough to be heard)

45 seconds

30 seconds

15 seconds

Timer will then count 10,9,8 and so on to zero.

  • When a school has completed their setup or strike and all people, scenery, props etc. are removed from the stage, their director should say “Clear.”

Booth setup/strike

Setup and strike in the control booth are also limited to exactly 5 minutes each. They are to be timed with a stopwatch. There will be a backup timer, but this watch will be used only in case the official timer’s watch malfunctions.

  • When the performing school’s booth crew is ready outside the booth, the official timer will say “Is everyone ready?” When they are, the timer will say “5,4,3,2,1, GO.”
  • As each successive minute passes, the timer will call out “You have 4 minutes left. You have 3 minutes left. You have 2 minutes left. You have 1 minute left.”
  • If the school has not yet cleared the booth when 1 minute is called, the timer will then call the time out at the following intervals (loud enough to be heard)

45 seconds

30 seconds

15 seconds

Timer will then count 10,9,8 and so on to zero or until the crew has

vacated the booth.

  • The crew will not go back in the booth or handle any equipment after their 5 minutes are up.
  • They will be allowed to re-enter the booth when the house manager gives them the signal to start the show.

It is a good idea for the host tech director to go over the light patch with each school just prior to its five-minute setup in order to ensure that lights are set up the way they should be for each school. No school shall be allowed to pre-set its scenery (for example: after the last show in the afternoon if they were first in the evening).

Adult involvement in the five-minute set up is permitted. Directors may call out instructions or even help move set pieces if they wish. However, after the performance begins, if there is any involvement by directors (headsets, talking to a student in the light booth, running the lights, etc.), the result will be disqualification. The only situation when an adult is allowed in the light booth is when this person, as a representative of the host school, is there to provide technical assistance for students from visiting schools.

Reminder: one second over 5 minutes will result in disqualification.


Each performance will begin after the judges are seated, the theater doors are closed and the house manager gives the signal to the appropriate person from the performing school. No school should ever begin its performance until they receive the official word. This prevents a play from starting without all judges being present.

Once the doors to the theater are closed, no one should enter or leave until the completion of the performance (except in an emergency). Latecomers are not to be admitted. It is the responsibility of participating directors to inform students of this rule. Directors are reminded that festival rules require students to attend all performances unless there is a conflict with their performance. Directors should remind parents and other persons who intend to travel to see their school's performance that they should plan to attend an entire session instead of trying to predict their own individual curtain time. This will avoid angry parents arriving after the start of their school's production and getting locked out in the lobby.

Performances are limited to 40 minutes exactly. One second over results in disqualification. Timing begins at the first sound (live or recorded) or first light, whichever is first.  NOTE: A production may use some low lighting (usually blues) to place actors, but will go to blackout again before officially starting the performance and the official time.

The MPA representative or designee shall serve as official timer for each performance. There will be 1 backup timer. If the official timer finds that the production is over the time limit, the second watch will be consulted. If the backup watch has the production under 40 minutes, it will be the official time. A school can only be disqualified if BOTH watches are over 40 minutes (unless the primary watch malfunctions). If the first watch or timer experiences technical difficulties, the second timer's watch will be the official time.

Directors (particularly if their production runs close to the 40 minute limit) should ensure that the starting and finishing signals are very clear to the timer, especially if there is an unusual situation (like very soft music, after 30 seconds of total darkness, or a 30-second fade before the curtain). Any pre- or post-show music must be considered part of the 40-.

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The MDF Judging Coordinator as designated by the MPA will select and assign judges to designated regional and state festivals. Each festival will have three judges, chosen from a pool of names developed and maintained by the MDC and the MPA. This list will be updated annually. Directors will have the opportunity to nominate prospective judges; and with input from the MDC, names by be added or removed from the master list.

Attempts will be made to balance each panel of judges, trying to achieve a good range of levels of experience, etc. Personal conflicts a judge might have with a particular school will be considered, and attempts will also be made to avoid assigning judges who are closely associated either professionally or personally to the same panel. A judge will serve at one festival site only and will not advance to judge at a higher level.

The procedures for critiques and judging will be established by the MDC and the MPA. It will be the responsibility of the Judging Coordinator to ensure that judges understand what is expected of them. There will be a judges' meeting at each host site prior to the first performance, at which time the MPA representative and/or the MDC representative will go over procedures.

The clerk of the judges (usually the MPA representative) is responsible for the accurate tabulation of the judges' results, and for ensuring that all paperwork associated with judging and awards is properly filled out, and for facilitating a smoothly run festival with respect to the quality and consistency of judging.

Only the clerk may be in the judges' room while deliberations are taking place. The clerk will attempt to ensure that the judges rate each play independently of one another, prior to consultation with his or her colleagues. In the event of a question about rules or procedures, the MDC Representative on site may be called upon in an advisory capacity.

Each judge will individually score each play using the MDF Score Sheets. The numerical rankings of the three judges will be totaled. After the top three scores in each class (the top 5 in the case of an all-A or all-B regional) have been obtained from the scoring rubric (raw score), the clerk will assign a #1, #2, or #3 from each judge to determine the final rank order. No school will be given a rank score lower than #3 of the top schools. In the case of a tie, the school that has the highest point total from the "Total Production Impact" category will be named champion. If there still remains a tie, then each judge will rank order the tied schools and the school with the lowest total will be declared the winner.

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Critiques are usually scheduled to immediately follow each session of plays. Some hosts may, however, schedule the critiques for the Friday evening shows on Saturday morning.?? The staff and students involved in each production should be at their own critique, but are not to attend those of other schools. Directors are invited to attend the entire session of critiques, but should not just leave their own students unattended while they watch hours of critiques. Chaperones, bus drivers and parents should attend critiques with the exception of those who have been directly connected to the show and invited by the director to attend.  

Each judge will have five minutes to speak, and the times will be strictly adhered to. After each judge has spoken, there will be five minutes in which the cast, crew, and director may ask questions or judges may make additional comments. The MPA representative will ensure that critiques do not exceed 20 minutes overall.

Judges will also write comments on the MDF Score Sheets which will be completed before the awards ceremony and delivered to the directors at the close of the festival.

A school that wishes may record its own critique, but it is not the responsibility of the host school to supply the equipment.

A Note for Directors About Critiques

It is the responsibility of the directors to prepare their students for the critique experience. This point is often overlooked, resulting in some crushed egos. The students who are told beforehand what to expect are better able to handle being "criticized" by three adult professionals. Directors need to remind students that the judges' job is not only to praise, but to evaluate, assess and to make suggestions of how they think you could improve your craft. These aren't the same parents, relatives, and friends who have been to your performances and told the cast how marvelous and brilliant they were. The judges are being paid to give their opinion, and students should be prepared to graciously handle their comments.?

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Examples of reasons for disqualification:

1. Exceeding the performance time limit for any reason.

2. Exceeding the setup/strike technical time limits (this includes even just a "final adjustment" on a set after the five-minute set up time is finished.)

3. The use of open flame, pyrotechnics, or live animals in a production.

4. Performance of material that is "musical theater."

5. Failure to pay royalties or arrange cutting/adaptation rights prior to performance.

6. Participation by students who do not meet local eligibility standards.

7. Adult involvement in performance. (Adults are allowed to be involved only during setup and strike.)

8. Leaving a stage light, practical light, projection light, etc. on after the five-minute setup and strike.

9. Placing actors on stage in view of the audience and judges before being told to do so by the festival TD.

10. Violation of the Substance Abuse Policy as stated in the Drama Bulletin.


Any protest by a director must be submitted in writing to the MPA and MDC representatives within 15 minutes of the last performance of a session. Such formal protest will be resolved through joint resolution between the MPA Drama Committee representative and the MDC representative on site. If necessary, they will consult with the MPA Drama Committee chairperson, and the MDC chairperson (by phone if necessary). The ultimate decision lies with the MPA Drama Committee chairperson.


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At the completion of the final deliberation of the judges, and after the certificates and paperwork have been completed, there will be an awards ceremony. At this time, students and schools receive recognition for outstanding work and the schools chosen to advance to the next level will be announced.

At this ceremony, the All-Festival Cast will be announced, and special awards will be given for other areas of student excellence (ensemble awards, technical awards, script writing, etc.). This is not a time for adult recognition, and for this reason program information must be clear about which aspects of the production (costume design, set design, etc.) were done by adults. Adults should always be designated with an asterisk (*) in the program.


Directors are responsible for the behavior of their students and should ensure that they are adequately supervised. Any negligent damage to a facility will be the responsibility of the visiting student's school. It is each director's responsibility to inform the students that the they must secure their own money and personal possessions. The MPA, host director, and host school are not responsible for lost money or possessions.

Festival Host Information

Festivals are run by a team that includes the festival host, the festival tech director, and representatives from the MDC and the MPA.

The festival host should be a staff member at the host school and shall receive a $200 stipend from the MPA. The festival host is expected to carry out specific responsibilities as detailed below. Hosts should be familiar with the "Guidelines/Rulebook."

The MPA representative is responsible for duties as detailed in the “Clerking a Festival” document. With the assistance of the host director and the designated MDC representative, the MPA representative will attempt to ensure consistent adherence to festival rules and regulations and will resolve any issues involving disqualification.

The Maine Drama Council Representative is available at the regional level to offer rules clarification as needed by the MPA representative. At the state finals, the MDC representative will work directly with the MPA representative to clerk the judges, prepare awards, etc.

Responsibilities of the Host

Information and paperwork for hosts will be distributed by the MPA in January, and then information will be distributed to individual schools by the host directors. The informational packet sent to visiting schools by the host director should include the following items:

  • A letter of introduction and welcome.
  • Facility information with directions to the school, parking information, auditorium and stage diagrams as well as technical data. Hosts should try and indicate any specific features or limitations of the host facility.
  • Information about tech day schedule, due dates for return of forms, and deadlines for special tech requests.
  • Procedural information about food service, workshops, and other aspects of the festival.
  • Appropriate forms for the visiting schools to fill out and return.
  • A notice to the effect that it is each director's responsibility to inform his or her students that they must secure their own money and personal possessions. The MPA, host director, and host school are not responsible for lost money or possessions.
  • A request for a heads-up about any sensitive material that the Host Director might need to communicate to the audience prior to a school’s performance.

The host director will designate a tech director who is responsible for smooth and consistent technical operations. It is the responsibility of this individual (in conjunction with the host director) to oversee tech day, coordinate all tech checks, supervise setup and strike for each show, and to ensure that timing and adherence to rules is as consistent as possible. This individual should be thoroughly familiar with festival rules and regulations. A Festival tech director could very well be involved in a disqualification situation, so it is crucial for this person to carefully oversee timing and other critical areas that could involve a violation. Clear communication between the Festival tech director and the visiting directors is the key to smooth operation.

Tech Day

The festival host and tech director will supervise Tech Day. (See separate section)

On Tech Day, the host director/tech director should go over the following with each visiting director:

  • Confirmation of the tech check and performance schedule.
  • Information about set storage. You should discuss size of their set and where they will be storing it. You should also discuss their specific load in/out schedule.
  • The spike tape color they would like to use. (some hosts supply this).
  • Special equipment (of their own) that they will install on Tech Day. Remember all special equipment needs to be available to others (as long as the performance schedule permits)
  • Special equipment of yours that they would like use (lights etc).
  • Special equipment they intend to install during their 5-minute setup.
  • Show them where the “line” will be for start and finish. Clarify your specific guidelines, particularly if you allow sets to be loaded into the wings prior to the 5 minute setup. NOTE: This practice can slow the performance schedule down and cause some gray areas for exactly how long a school should be allowed to preset set pieces. Be clear about your procedure and be consistent with all schools.
  • All weapons used in a production must be brought to the tech day and shown to host.

The host director should schedule a specific time slot on Tech Day for any students/directors who might need to familiarize themselves with the operation of the equipment at the host site (light board, sound board etc.)

Festival Weekend

On festival weekend, the festival host will provide each school with a packet that should include:  

  • Badge/name tag for each person listed on registration form.
  • Map of the school and any appropriate information regarding the parameters of use of the facility.
  • Final festival schedule including all planned activities.

     Note: The schedule should include an MDC/directors' meeting usually on Saturday morning.

  • Meal tickets, etc.
  • One program for each student


All weapons must be given to the festival host upon arrival at the festival.  They will be released for the school's tech hour and for the performance, but they must be returned to the host for safe-keeping after each performance.  They will be returned to the school at the end of the festival. 

The festival host shall provide a classroom for each school to call its base, and there should be a team of student hosts who assist visiting schools with finding their way around. The student hosts should assist visiting schools during registration and as needed during the weekend.

The festival host shall arrange for an area to hold critiques, a work space for the judges, and a director's lounge. It is advisable to have an area where students can congregate and many hosts find that a concession area in the cafeteria can be a very profitable fundraiser during the weekend. Festival workshops and other activities vary from site to site.

The festival host should contact the MPA rep and should send on necessary information such as directions to the site. The MPA rep will arrange for a meeting of the judges on the Friday afternoon of festival weekend. Though it is not the responsibility of the Festival Host, he or she should coordinate with the MPA rep to ensure that arrangements have been made for the judges housing, meals, clipboards, etc.

The host director will provide student assistants from the host school to assist with smooth operations.

The host director will provide an adult house manager (in charge of ticket sales, ushers, and ensuring that doors are closed before each show begins and that people do not enter or leave the auditorium during performances).

The host director will arrange for security, parking attendants, and custodial services as necessary.

The host director is responsible for financial accounting. Ticket sales will be handled by the host director, and it is his or her responsibility to ensure that an adequate block of seating (approximately 50%) is available for members of the general public who wish to buy tickets at the door. Tickets are $5 (high school age or younger) and $8 (adult) for each session of plays. Ticket receipts go directly to the MPA representative. The MPA also receives the $5 collected from schools for each registrant above the allowed number (30).

The host director will print enough programs for anticipated audiences. Festival programs should contain the following (in addition to one page for each participating school):?

  1. A list of festival personnel including host, tech director, MDC and MPA representatives.?
  2. Names and biographical information of judges
  3. A list of pertinent festival and house regulations to include the following:
  • Doors will close two minutes before curtain and once closed, no one may leave or be admitted to a performance except in an emergency.?
  • There will be a 15-minute intermission between plays.?
  • Photographs/videos may not be taken during a performance.?

The festival host should complete the appropriate forms ("Request for Payment of Site Expenses," etc.) and return them to the MPA office within one week of the festival.

Workshops are not a requirement but may be arranged by the host school AT ITS OWN EXPENSE.

The festival host is not responsible for housing arrangements for visiting schools, though a list of suggestions and phone numbers should be available.

Food sales vary from site to site. Meals and other concessions may be furnished by the host school as a fund-raiser. Depending on location, the host could also supply a list of local restaurants as an alternative.

The host school may also raise funds during the festival weekend by selling refreshments, program ads, or by seeking local sponsorship in other ways.

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Responsibilities of the MPA Representative

The MPA representative serves as clerk of the judges and collaborates with the festival host and the MDC representative to ensure that each festival is run as smoothly and fairly as possible. Close coordination and cooperation with the host is essential.

In order that the MPA representative be as well-informed as possible, it is important to carefully review the rules and MDF “Clerking a Festival” document beforehand and to attend the clerking workshop prior to festival weekend. This workshop is usually conducted by a representative from the MDC at the January meeting of the MPA Drama Committee.

Responsibilities of the MDC Representative

At regionals 

  • Help settle disputes and communicate directors' concerns to the MPA rep. The MDC representative should not enter the judges' room or communicate with the judges.

  At States 

  • be in judges' room at all times
  • assist the MPA rep as needed
  • help to answer questions and clarify rules
  • verify numbers and rankings with MPA rep
  • be a second timer
  • get info from directors on starting and ending of plays and approximate running time

Information for Judges

For obvious reasons, judging is perhaps the most important element of a good festival. Selection of candidates is made by the MPA Judging Coordinator. A list of candidates is generated from recommendations by MDC members, and the list is updated annually.

Each panel of judges will be selected with the idea of providing the best possible combination of experience, areas of expertise, and professional background. The selection committee will attempt to prevent situations where the judges might have personal conflicts with each other or with any of the participating directors. In general, the committee will avoid assigning spouses to the same team, and it is usually preferable not to team up judges who are associated professionally. Travel distance will also be a factor in selecting a panel of judges.

After site assignments and judge assignments are finalized in January, judges will be contacted by the MPA representative regarding the confirmation of dates, festival accommodations, updating of program bio information, and clarification of items such as directions to site, time for meeting on Friday afternoon, and the exchanging of phone contact info.

Judges will meet with the MPA representative on the Friday afternoon of festival weekend. This meeting is important to review procedures, answer questions, address concerns and to generally set the tone for the adjudication process. During this meeting, the facilities will be toured and judges should select a seat in the performance area that will be theirs for the entire festival.

During the performance sessions, the judges should strive to process their results efficiently and professionally. Judges should not confer between performances. Scores for each play should be determined by each judge independently, without any discussion. It is advisable for judges to fill out score sheets completely (including written comments) during the time between shows if possible; this will definitely prevent delays later in the festival. There is expected to be a 15-minute intermission between performances.

Judges will be given the opportunity to review (and alter) their own scores for any play until after the final critique session when the MPA representative collects them to determine the final rankings. This would happen after the last session of critiques.

The judges’ Special Commendations should recognize aspects of a production that deserve recognition, but not be awarded for trivialities “Best one-liner,” Best kiss,” etc. The Maine Drama Council developed a list of suggested categories for the Special Commendations:



General Awards/Commendation


All-Festival Cast

Set Design

Original Music by a Student

Ensemble Acting

Scenic Art

Student Direction


Set Construction

Student-Written Script


Lighting Design


Sound Design


Special Effects


Prop Design/Construction


Costume Design/Construction






Stage Combat


Overall Technical Excellence


No special consideration should be given to schools with student directors or who perform plays written by students.

The MDC recognizes the importance of good judging and the difficulty in summing up any specific guidelines or job description in summing up any specific guidelines or job description for candidates. Dr. Sandra Hardy (UMO) wrote a piece which the MDC considers good advice for prospective judges:

The following are thoughts on adjudication:

An overall impression of the piece should be addressed first. An attempt should be made to create a positive, encouraging atmosphere. Aspects like: impact made, feelings generated, passions felt, enthusiasm inspired, thinking provoked, should help to start the process. Moving to specifics which support the judge's positive thesis should be the next step.
Broad areas to explore:

  1. characterization?
  2. thematic clarity?
  3. strength of ensemble?
  4. performance craft?
  5. sets?
  6. costumes?
  7. lighting?
  8. props?
  9. poise and confidence of cast?
  10. level of difficulty?
  11. originality of interpretation?
  12. degree of stimulation created

A note to judges might suggest that all aspects 1-12 should be addressed as they are successfully integrated into the whole of the theatre piece. Any aspect of theater that stands alone, fails in the overall objective of theatrical experience.


  • Do the actors establish clear, viable relationships which read?
  • Are characters developed gradually with specificity to motivate ultimate climax?
  • Is there imaginative use of space; is the set designed to enhance time, place, atmosphere, character and action?
  • Are costumes reflective of character, mood, and climate?
  • Are props designed for symbolic suggestion or clarity of character or theme?
  • Is lighting used for allegorical definition?
  • Does the imagery created by technical theatre enhance the poetry - the language of the piece?


To what extent has the production enlisted the imagination of the audience? It feels like rain...rather than literal drops...a mist. Or...she was very ill...rather because of the acting, blocking, lighting, prop use...than because she was vomiting.

A final question:

To what extent has the theatrical moment...or production jelled...become not the sum of a number of parts but a simple, seamless, penetrating whole? If the actors involved feel characterization, understand the stage environment, capture a motivated complication and climax, are both moving and believable, comically or dramatically, that moment must not be overlooked. Of course spontaneity, subtlety, concentration, elocution, gesture, fluency of movement, poise, rapport with ensemble, honesty of presentation are all applicable. This note is merely to stimulate some thought and integrate what you already have.

Maine Principals' Association Drama Committee

Chad Bell, Principal, Winslow High School
Mark Campbell, Principal, Lawrence High School
Ralph Caron, Valley Rivers Middle School
Jim Frost, Retired Member, Brewer
Carole Gilley, Waterville Junior High School
Scott Gordon, Principal, Old Town High School
Greg Henderson, Assistant Principal, Skowhegan Area High School
Brian Laramee, Assistant Principal, Waterville Senior High School
Robin Lisherness, Coordinator, Skowhegan
Deborah McAfee, Assistant Principal, Windham High School
Steve Ouellette, Assistant Principal, Gardiner Area High School
Eric Waddell, Principal, Traip Academy

 Maine Drama Council Governing Board

Beth Lambert (Carrabec) 2016
Allison Machaiek (Oceanside) 2016
Ryan Nored (Erskine) 2016
Betsy Puelle (Yarmouth) 2016
Dede Waite (Falmouth) 2016
Doug Clapp (Ft. Kent) 2017
Beth Goodwin (Central) 2017
Tom Heath (Camden Hills) 2017
Maura Smith (Skowhegan) 2017
David Hanright (Thornton) 2015
Tim Ryan (Freeport) 2015
Kailey Smith (Lawrence) 2015
Tim Wheeler (Skowhegan) 2015
Rick Ash, MPA liaison
Robin Lisherness, MPA liaison

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