Wisconsin High School Theatre Festival


Peck School of the Arts

General Information

UW-Milwaukee – November 21-23, 2019

About 1,800 high school students gather each year at the Wisconsin High School Theatre Festival (WHSTF) — held since 1930 — for three days packed with workshops featuring trained professionals, one-act and individual event contest performances, showcase productions, and exhibitors from theatre vendors to collegiate programs. Prior registration is required. Middle level schools may enter the one-act contest, and/or attend the festival to view age-appropriate shows and participate in workshops.

We welcome middle and high schools to participate in the Theatre Festival!








One-Act Contest

Schools wishing to participate in the one-act contest must be members of the WHSFA, and must begin their qualification process by entering the district level in mid-October, followed by the sectional level in late October/early November. One-act plays advancing to the State level are scheduled throughout the day Friday and Saturday, concurrent with workshops. All students attending the festival are welcome to watch. One-act performances are a great educational opportunity for students and their directors to receive constructive criticism from trained theatre professionals.

Middle level schools may attend a high school one-act festival in their area district, or may be adjudicated in-house, and/or may attend the State Festival (space permitting) as an exhibition attendee. At the State Festival, middle level schools may earn a Merit or Excellence award, and participating students will receive a ribbon representing the award their school earned.

Thespian Excellence (Individual Events) Contest

Thespian Individual EventsThespian Excellence Awards (“Thespys; ” previously, Individual Events – IEs) will be held Friday of the festival (scheduled around one-acts students are performing in). Every student/group who participates performs their piece(s) or speaks on a tech portfolio and receives immediate oral feedback (and written feedback, available at the end of the contest) from two adjudicators with professional theatre background. Information and rubrics for each event are delineated document linked above. When registering in SpeechWire, teachers/directors must designate which IE(s) students are signing up for, name of piece(s), name(s) of partner/group (if applicable). ANY high school theatre student may participate in these events at the state level, but students must be inducted members of Thespians to advance to Nationals.

Performance Events

  • monologue
  • duet acting
  • group acting
  • solo musical theatre
  • duet musical theatre
  • group musical theatre


Contact: withespians@gmail.com

Technical Events

  • costume construction
  • costume design
  • lighting design
  • scenic design
  • short film
  • sound design
  • stage management
  • theatre marketing
  • makeup

Tech Olympics

Tech OlympicsTech Olympics is a great way to test your technical skills in a fun and friendly competition with your peers. Actors, designers, directors, technicians, and theatre enthusiasts are invited to participate. Pre-registration for this contest is not necessary, but participants must be pre-registered with the festival.

Tech Olympics Guidelines.

Tech Olympics at the WHSTF is generously facilitated and presented by ETC – Electronic Theatre Controls.

Examples of Events

  • Focus a Light (Individual)
  • Knot Tying (Individual)
  • Costume Quick Change (Pair)
  • Wire a Plug (Individual)
  • Cable Relay (Team of 4)
  • Sound Setup (Pair)


Thu., Nov. 21 – Evening (TBA)Whitefish Bay HSAll My Sons
Friday, Nov. 22 – 6 p.m.Milwaukee HS of the ArtsJoseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
by Reedsburg HS
Friday, Nov. 22 – 7 p.m.UWM Kenilworth Bldg
FIVE-0-EIGHT Theatre
Run-Through Rehearsal of A Piece of My Heart
by UW-Milwaukee

We recommend schools purchase showcase tickets as part of their registration, but some will be available at the festival at the registration desk during the day on Friday and/or outside each respective theater about one hour before each show on Thursday and Friday.


2018 Program Booklet (2019 Booklet will be posted the week of the festival)

UWM PSOA: Registration
Whitefish Bay HS:
Mainstage: One-Acts
T-6 Studio: One-Acts

Recital Hall: One-Acts (AM)
2nd Floor Gallery: Exhibit Expo
MIT 1st Floor: Thesp. Excellence (Tech)
Venue TBA: Thesp. Excellence (Tech)
Milwaukee HS/Arts: Musical Showcase
UWM-Kenilworth: Rehearsal Showcase
Mainstage: One-Acts
T-6 Studio: One-Acts
Recital Hall: One-Acts (AM)
2nd Floor Gallery: Exhibit Expo
Zelazo Center: Tech Olympics
8-9:30 am: One-Acts, IEs, Workshops, Exhibits8-9:30 am: One-Acts, Workshops, Exhibits
9 am: Tech Olympics Registration & Practice
9:45-11:15 am: One-Acts, IEs, Workshops, Exhibits9:45-11:15 am: One-Acts, Workshops, Exhibits
Tech Olympics Registration & Practice
11:30am-1pm: One-Acts, IEs, Workshops, Exhibits11:30am-1pm: One-Acts, Workshops, Exhibits
Tech Olympics Competition
1:15-2:45pm: One-Acts, IEs, Workshops, Exhibits1:15-2:00pm: One-Acts, Workshops
Tech Olympics Competition
3:00-4:30pm: One-Acts, Workshops, Exhibits3:00-4:30pm: One-Acts (as needed)
3:30 pm Tech Olympics Awards
4-7 pm: Registration (incl. exhibitors)4:45-5:30pm: One-Acts (as needed)
Time T.B.A.: Showcase6 & 7 pm: Showcases



Family, friends and students not participating in the one-act contest are welcome to attend the festival, one-act performances, and workshops for a $25 general festival registration fee. Family and friends who are not attending the entire festival may purchase time block tickets ($8 per time block) on-site to view a performance. Each block ticket includes a 90-minute session (two one-act performances or one workshop). Registration for all schools opens in late-October with registration finalized/due by noon Thursday, November 7, 2019.

Time-block Pass

  • Venue admission for family/friends for a two-one-act show time bloc

General Participant

  • Covers all festival events/activities; includes 1 chaperone per 15 students. Capped at $225 for schools whose WHSFA membership is current this school year.

Individual Events

  • For Thespian contest (details above).


  • Pre-registered price

Pay StationTraffic & Parking

Please be mindful of being in a large city and allow time for traffic, particularly if your hotel is outside the downtown area.

Buses should drop students off at 3243 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee, WI, and should not drop off on Kenwood Ave.

The Union Garage has parking underneath the Peck School of the Arts (clearance 6’10”).  Rates= $1/half hour; $1/hour after first 2 hours; Weekday limit:  $12/day; Saturday limit: $5/day. Pay for parking via walk-up paystations, credit card at exit, or Parkmobile app using code 59022. Click here to learn more about the garage entrance/exit stations (see picture to right). Nearby surface lot options (limited hours):

  • Zelazo (Parkmobile code 59009): Non-permit parking after 3pm Friday/all day Saturday.
  • Library/Garland (Parkmobile 59001): Non-permit parking after 4pm Friday/all day Saturday.

Please do NOT risk on-street parking around UW-Milwaukee. On-street parking is limited to extremely brief periods, and parking citations are issued vigorously, to protect rights of residents who live near the university.

Sponsors, Exhibiting, and Advertising

Mainstage Signature Sponsor

Recital Hall/Thespian Events Sponsor

Studio Theatre Sponsor

Tech Olympics Sponsor

Lanyard Sponsor