One-Act Play

  1. Schools may participate upon joining the Association.
  2. Faculty advisors/directors must read the Theatre Handbook and familiarize themselves with rules and parameters of the contest series.
    • Schools bring their own set/set pieces, varying from minimalist to sophisticated and assembled during the performance with meticulous choreography of stagehands.
    • Schools do their own costuming, make up, and props.
    • Schools utilize lighting and sound provided by each venue, so some flexibility is implied.
    • Schools new to the festival should keep things simple before pursuing more ambitious projects. Schools also should practice loading their set and timing their performance in a different space than they’re used to (such as a gymnasium or commons), so they’re ready to travel their show to a different space.
  3. From mid-September through October 3, directors register online (see specific instructions in the handbook). During that same window, directors may log back in and make changes to registration. The State Office shares registration data with contest managers for each level.
  4. As part of the online registration process, directors rank State Festival time preferences (day + time of day). These ultimately will be assigned, with consideration given for schools traveling a greater distance.
  5. Schools are never compared to/ranked against one another; each performance is evaluated on its own merits.
    1. At the district and sectional festivals, ratings from at least two of  three adjudicators determines if a play advances to the next level. Contest managers report results, and a school’s registration automatically advances, though directors may make slight adjustments to their registration after the district and sectional festivals.
    2. A the State Festival, the average rating by at least two of four adjudicators must reach the threshold for awards; to earn awards for acting, students must receive at least two nominations.
  6. The State Festival is a tremendous learning experience, and schools who do not advance are still strongly encouraged to attend, where their students can watch other shows, and participate in other workshops and activities. Past non-qualifying schools who have gone to State report a renewed vigor by students, excited to push themselves further, the following year.
  7. Coaches have a brief window on the Monday-Tuesday following sectionals to confirm State participants.

Recent Rules Changes & Handbook

Please see the tabs to the left to see rules changes for recent seasons, including the current season. See the handbook below for step-by-step one-act registration instructions.

Theatre Handbook


New season Handbook released Aug. 26, 2022.

WISDAA Interscholastic Participation Rules

  1. Allowance for schools to enter more than one performance with only one production participating in person for any contest level, but limiting actors to participating in one cast, but not limiting crew participation [p. 3, #2.3]. This allows a school to submit second, third, etc., one-act entries virtually, e.g., for class/student-directed works.
  2. Directors are now required to note any weaponry (not just firearms) they will have in their production. This was added due to risk management concerns, and to proactively ensure safety measures are in place. [p. 3, #4.2]
  3. An additional registration field for character descriptions has been added (on SpeechWire).
  4. Slight edits to evaluation sheet to streamline adjudication; made running notes optional for adjudicators [p. 11-12].
  1. Special dispensations for the 2021-22 season:
    • Each school may enter only one one-act entry for in-person festivals; any number or all a school’s entries may be submitted virtually. A school can move any performance between virtual and in-person, as long as not more than one show is performing at in-person festivals at any level (District, Section, State).
    • For each virtual one-act submission, the school must provide an adjudicator who can evaluate three shows (the same adjudicator may be used for up to three one-acts, or an evaluation commitment of 9 shows). For each adjudicator not provided, a school will be assessed a $100 uncovered adjudicator fee for each festival level.
    • For in-person festivals, the festival manager will arrange for adjudicators as has been past practice.
    • Please see complete COVID-19/Public Health Protocols, in force for all WHSFA contest series events.
    • Set-up/strike must happen within the 40-minute, bare stage to bare stage time limit; directors should take into account public health safety guidelines for social distancing, and adjust their timing, accordingly.
  2. Directors may continue to opt-in to have adjudicators consider lighting and/or sound choices as part of their evaluation. Since resources vary among participating schools, answering “no” protects schools who do not have sound/light systems, while answering “yes” gives schools who do an opportunity to be evaluated on how those choices enhance the production.
  3. Adjudicators will no longer give arbitrary recommendations; rather, an average of each set of scores will determine which entries advance to the next contest level and to determine State awards, except for Acting [see Handbook].
  4. Evaluation: slight revisions to evaluation criteria and addition of criterion for crew as cohesive unit [see Handbook].
  1. Special dispensations for the 2020 virtual season:
    1. Schools may enter more than one play.
    2. Each entry may be recorded in-person with students socially distanced and wearing masks.
    3. Set-up/strike is not part of the 40-minute time limit; set(s) should already be assembled when recording starts.
    4. Only one adjudicator vote to advance is required to move on to the next festival level.
    5. District and sectional festivals will be statewide windows of asynchronous evaluation.
  2. Directors may opt-in to have adjudicators consider lighting and/or sound choices as part of their evaluation. Since resources vary among participating schools, answering “no” protects schools who do not have sound/light systems, while answering “yes” gives schools who do an opportunity to be evaluated on how those choices enhance the production (see Adjudication section, p. 17-21).
  • Rule #3 pertaining to the use of prop firearms added in “Rules and Policies for Theatre.”
  • Evaluation sheet and adjudicator instructions revised with more streamlined criteria and a numerical rubric (see Adjudicator Guidelines to the right).
  • Directors may opt-in to have adjudicators consider lighting and sound choices as part of their evaluation and to include adjudicators’ recommendations to advance/stop, as well as awards at the State Festival (p. 9). Since resources vary among participating schools, answering “no” protects schools who do not have sound/light systems, while answering “yes” gives schools who do an opportunity to be evaluated on how those choices enhance the production (see Adjudication section, p. 17-21).
  • For the State Festival, Oustanding Acting awards were re-consolidated from the previous season’s bifurcated “lead” and “supporting” designations.

Contest Dates

Move cursor over a date for location and further details.

2022 Calendar Overview

Thespian Excellence Awards (Thespys)

Please exercise caution and be sure to abide by Rules 5 and 6 pertaining to rights and approved publishers.

Registration open; videos due Wed., Oct. 26.

Theatre- Thespy Rights-Application Form

Theatre- Thespy Special Rights Form

Thespy Categories: Overview

Category Students Time Description
Performance Categories
Acting-Solo 1 ≤ 3 min. Performance of two contrasting theatrical monologues (1 character/play; ≤1 chair safely used).
Acting-Duet 2 ≤ 5 min. Performance of one scene from a play (each participant in 1 role; ≤2 chairs safely used).
Acting-Group 3-16 ≤ 5 min. Performance of one group scene from a play (each participant in 1 role; ≤1 table/≤6 chairs safely used).
Musical Theatre Dance-Solo 1 ≤ 5 min. Dance performance from a musical theatre scene.
Musical Theatre Dance-Duet 2
Musical Theatre Dance-Group 3-16
Musical Theatre Performance-Solo 1 ≤ 5 min. Singing and acting performance from published score written for musical theatre.
Musical Theatre Performance-Duet 2
Musical Theatre Performance-Group 3-16
Technical Categories
Costume Construction 1 5-8 min. Present a realized execution for one costume, plus portfolio, for a published theatrical work.
Costume Design Create and present 5 color costume designs, plus portfolio, for a published theatrical work.
Lighting Design Create and present a lighting design/plot, plus portfolio, for a published theatrical work.
Makeup Design Create and present 5 character renderings and a makeup portfolio for a published theatrical work.
Scenic Design Create and present a set design scale model up to three unique scenes/locations, plus portfolio, for a published theatrical work.
Sound Design Create and present a sound design of sound effects/cues, plus portfolio, for a published theatrical work.
Stage Management Create and present a prompt book as part of a portfolio, for a published theatrical work.
Theatre Marketing Create and present a marketing campaign as part of a portfolio, for a published theatrical work.
Other Creative Categories
Playwriting 1 n/a Student writes one original short play (30 minutes or less). Collaborative works or adaptations are not permitted, nor are plays that include music, lyrics, or dialogue written by anyone other than the submitting writer.
Short Film-Live-Action 1 5-8 min. Create an original film, either as an individual or as part of a student group.
Short Film-Animated
Short Film-Documentary

Theatre & Thespys FAQs

FAQs with asterisks (*) pertain to online/virtual submissions. Thespy entries for the practice Thespy festival will be online only; for State, a director may choose virtual or in-person for each entry.

  1. Schools may participate upon joining the Association.
  2. Faculty advisors/directors must read the Theatre Handbook and familiarize themselves with rules and parameters of the contest series.
    • Schools bring their own set/set pieces, varying from minimalist to sophisticated and assembled during the performance with meticulous choreography of stagehands.
    • Schools do their own costuming, make up, and props.
    • Schools utilize lighting and sound provided by each venue, so some flexibility is implied.
    • Schools new to the festival should keep things simple before pursuing more ambitious projects. Schools also should practice loading their set and timing their performance in a different space than they're used to (such as a gymnasium or commons), so they're ready to travel their show to a different space.
  3. From mid-September through October 3, directors register online (see specific instructions in the handbook). During that same window, directors may log back in and make changes to registration. The State Office shares registration data with contest managers for each level.
  4. As part of the online registration process, directors rank State Festival time preferences (day + time of day). These ultimately will be assigned, with consideration given for schools traveling a greater distance.
  5. Schools are never compared to/ranked against one another; each performance is evaluated on its own merits.
    1. At the district and sectional festivals, ratings from at least two of  three adjudicators determines if a play advances to the next level. Contest managers report results, and a school's registration automatically advances, though directors may make slight adjustments to their registration after the district and sectional festivals.
    2. A the State Festival, the average rating by at least two of four adjudicators must reach the threshold for awards; to earn awards for acting, students must receive at least two nominations.
  6. The State Festival is a tremendous learning experience, and schools who do not advance are still strongly encouraged to attend, where their students can watch other shows, and participate in other workshops and activities. Past non-qualifying schools who have gone to State report a renewed vigor by students, excited to push themselves further, the following year.
  7. Coaches have a brief window on the Monday-Tuesday following sectionals to confirm State participants.

The timeframe 40 minutes, bare stage to bare stage; timing begins from when the first foot, prop, or scenery comes onto the stage, and until the last one leaves.

Yes. We will hold an invitational/practice Thespys contest, along with a State Festival component, as an opportunity in addition to the one-act series, so students may participate in one or both of these.

Schools who wish to utilize weaponry on stage must:

  • Honor all host venue/institution regulations pertaining to presence of weaponry, whether real or facsimile.
  • When registering each entry: list all weapons to be used and certify the school’s principal has granted permission to use them all; describe safety and storage protocols; include name(s) of person(s) who have access; a photograph of each weapon; stage directions of how the firearm will be used on stage; timeframes – how far into the show AND for how long – any given weapon will be on stage, and when it will be visible.
  • Special policies for firearms:
    • No blanks can be used; all sounds must come from a recorded sound effect.
    • Any festival host venue may refuse a school from using both a prop firearm and/or sound effect of a firearm being discharged.
    • Theatrical firearms should never be pointed at the audience (can be traumatic and may result in unpredictable reactions), nor should be pointed at someone on stage. Instead, the theatrical firearm should be pointed past the individual into a corridor of safety.

Yes, since this would allow working with smaller cohort groups/pods.  This is allowed, irrespective of whether one show is in person and the other is virtual. Schools may submit the same show with different casts and should title them differently (e.g., The Tempest, Cast A; The Tempest, Cast B). Each cast would be evaluated on its own merits. A school is still limited to just one in-person one-act entry at each level (District, Sectional, State), and actors may not appear in more than one play (though technical crew may be shared).

Visit the Theatre Contests page for a list by date, including locations. Please note: each local area sets its own schedules, so the State Office posts these on our website only when we have been notified.

A registration button will appear on the Theatre contests page in mid-September, which will take directors to the SpeechWire platform to input their play information, cast, and crew.

See the Districts/Sections page for a list of contacts, along with a map showing the geographic regions of the state.

Homeschool students may either participate with an area public or private school,** or as part of a homeschool association that joins the WHSFA.

**WHSFA supports the local school district policy for interscholastic athletics/academic contests. For example, if a home-schooled student is allowed to join the basketball team, a home-schooled student may participate in Theatre, Speech, and Debate activities.

Here is the official policy from the WHSFA’s Constitution/Bylaws:

SECTION III: Membership

Wisconsin homeschooled/online/virtual school students:

  1. Conditions: Students must be members of a homeschool association or enrolled full time in an online school. They cannot participate individually, unless as part of their attendance-area school district, if the school district allows participation.
  2. Procedures:
    1. Homeschooling associations may apply for membership by registering and paying the yearly dues. Online/virtual schools headquartered in Wisconsin may apply under the same conditions.
    2. As members, their students are eligible to participate in all WHSFA events in the District/Section where the homeschool association is located. Students living in Wisconsin who are enrolled in online/virtual schools that are members of WHSFA may participate in the subdistrict and district festivals in which the online/virtual school is located.

If you're not affiliated with a particular school, or would like to offer your adjudicating services to additional schools and contests, please join our statewide email list. We do not have lists for specific regions of the state, because there's too much overlap between areas with contests schools attend.

Yes, that is a suitable alternative to a tradition videoconference, particularly where bandwidth access is a concern. Fade in/out transitions would be allowable in this context, but no other editing other than connecting the video with subtle transitions is allowed.

Yes, and this applies for both in-person video capture as well as screen recording of videoconferences (such as using Switcher Studio or a similar tool). The key rule is no post-production editing, which is what delineates theatre from film. We also will advise adjudicators to not preference multiple cameras.

The most common video formats that are widely acceptable for sharing are:

  • .mp4
  • .mov
  • .m4v
  • .mpeg4

Please see this article for more guidance.

Each adjudication commitment (one-act or Thespy) involves about 3 hours of time.

  • Consider your frame (how much of your body you want to be seen). At a minimum, make sure to show inches above your head to your belly button.
  • If performing a song, make sure you have a solid track to use for your accompaniment.
    • Pay an accompanist to record a track for you and send you an .mp3 file. Try reaching out to your local university's music or theatre department as a start.
    • Find a karaoke track online. Make sure there are no vocals on the track.
  • Consider where you're placing your "scene partner." You do not need to look straight into the camera.
  • You may use one straight back chair and one small table in your video; additional set pieces are not allowed.
  • Find an effective filming location
    • Area should be quiet so we can hear both you and your track (if applicable).
    • Film in front of a non-distracting background. If possible, choose a solid-color wall or consider hanging a sheet behind you. The color should contrast with your clothing.
    • Dress neatly, in all black clothing as written in the guidelines. No costumes.
    • Make sure you are lit enough to be clearly visible.
  • Reminders
    • Before filming, conduct a full-volume test to make sure you can be heard (and that your track can be heard).
    • Ensure your blocking is effective and visible when filmed. Consider whether to decrease your movement or to adjust your camera angle.
    • Shoot your video horizontally, not vertically.
    • Try multiple takes and submit your strongest.

 

  • Watch your video both before and after uploading to ensure it's what you want to share.
  • You will have two options for submitting your video.
    • Upload the video file directly into the submission form from your laptop or desktop.
    • Provide a URL to your video on YouTube.
      • The guide to using YouTube video editor is ​​​found here.
      • Give your video a clear name. Consider something like First Name Last Name – Event – Thespy Submission.
      • Make sure the video is listed as unlisted but check that the link will allow for open access to all adjudicators.
 

You will be asked to share your portfolio as you would for an in-person presentation. Please upload the material asked for in the submission form in accordance with the program guidelines.

  • Each of your samples should be clear and quality -- good production or process photos, or easily readable documents.
  • Uploads should be well-photographed or clearly readable. Though you will be able to expand in the written response, the sample should be able to speak for itself to a certain extent.

Use a file sharing service, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive. Be sure the sharing setting is enabled to allow anyone with the link to view the folder with your materials.

 
Each summer, advisory committees for each activity meet to review the previous contest season and propose changes to the Board of Control. Contact us with concerns and/or suggestions, and we will forward these to the respective committee(s).

Ticketing for Performing Arts

Official WISDAA partner. No cost to schools. Use their AnywhereSeat service for online programming.

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