Theatre Contests


  • AWTE Conference
    September 20, 2019
    Diane Ballweg Theatre, 1000 Edgewood College Dr, Madison, WI 53711, USA

  • Dist 2 Festival
    October 12, 2019
    Tomahawk High School, 1048 E King Rd, Tomahawk, WI 54487, USA

  • Dist 3 Festival
    October 16, 2019
    Menomonie High School, 1715 5th St W, Menomonie, WI 54751, USA

  • Sect 1 Festival
    October 29, 2019 - October 30, 2019 @ 
    Pablo Center at the Confluence, 128 Graham Ave, Eau Claire, WI 54701, USA

  • Sect 2 Festival
    October 29, 2019 - October 30, 2019 @ 
    Oconto Falls High School, 210 N Farm Rd, Oconto Falls, WI 54154, USA

  • Sect 5 Festival
    November 8, 2019 - November 9, 2019 @ 
    Waukesha, WI, USA

  • State Theatre Festival
    November 21, 2019 - November 23, 2019 @ 
    UWM Peck School of the Arts, 2400 E Kenwood Blvd, Milwaukee, WI 53211, USA

Contest Series – Registration Process

Contest Series – Registration Process
  1. High schools (grades 9-12) may participate upon joining the WHSFA.
  2. From September 20 to October 4, directors register online with play synopsis and publication information, technical needs, and an accurate roster of students names, certifying interscholastic eligibility (usually confirmed by an athletic/activities director or an administrator), and assigning students to specific acting roles and crew positions. During that same window, coaches may log back in and make changes to registration.
  3. As part of the online registration process, coaches rank their State Festival time preferences (Friday or Saturday, as well as time of day). These ultimately will be assigned given available space, with consideration given for schools traveling a greater distance.NOTE: Schools are encouraged to hold informal subdistricts with colleague schools or invite theatre educators to provide evaluation before the district festival, as well to give students practice with performing their production. Alternatively, a school could practice loading their set in and out of a different space in their school or community (e.g., gymnasium or commons area), and having an outside evaluator come in to offer notes.
  4. The State Office shares registration information — as well as a supply of evaluation sheets and other materials — with each district host, who schedules and prepares each festival.
  5. theaterfestivalAt the district festival, three adjudicators evaluate each play; at least two of the three must recommend the play advance for it to continue to the sectional level. Using SpeechWire, district hosts report advancing plays, which section chairs will subsequently use to schedule the sectional festival.
  6. At the sectional festival, at least two of three adjudicators must recommend the play advance for it to move on to the State level. Using SpeechWire, sectional hosts report advancing entries.NOTE: 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 online.
  8. At the State Contest, if two of four adjudicators make a recommendation, schools may earn awards for: individual acting, ensemble, crew, directing, and Critic’s Choice.

Theatre Handbook

Theatre FAQs

Can homeschool or online school students participate?

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.
How do I host a festival?

Please review the PDF handbook for your particular activity, which has a number of resources and suggestions. We also compiled a Speech Festival Manager Info page, with instructions on using the SpeechWire contest management website/software.

How do I register for contests?
Visit the Speech Contests, Theatre Contests, or Debate Contests pages for a button/link that will take you to the online registration platform for registering. Each of those pages also will contain tutorial information on how to register. Most Middle Level contests handle registration directly through email, although some have moved to using SpeechWire; contact the host for more information (host contact information is available when clicking a particular contest in the Middle Level upcoming dates calendar.
How do I register for One-Act Theatre?

Visit the Theatre contests page for more information on our festival series, which runs from mid-October through mid-November.

How do I suggest a change to rules?

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).

What are the basics of producing a One-Act for Theatre contests?

The Theatre Handbook (linked on our Theatre Contests page) will provide all details, but in short:

  1. You have 40 minutes, bare stage to bare stage – this means bringing your set on stage and striking it from the stage are all part of timing.
  2. You construct and bring your own set/set pieces.  Some schools do this quite elaborately, and have made an art form of choreographing placement of that set on stage at the festivals, and some schools are quite minimalist, and really focus on the deep psychology of performances. The beauty of our festival is no schools is compared with another; each performance is evaluated on its own merits. We universally suggest starting simple and mastering the basics before taking on more ambitious staging.
  3. Schools do their own costuming and make up, and this can be a way to visually enhance the production, while helping students identify their sense of characterizations. Same with props. How this all plays into the production is subject to critique.
  4. Since each production is subject to the amenities and limitations of lighting and sound at each host venue, less value is placed on these elements in the evaluation process, but anything that is significantly distracting or prevents an adjudicator from seeing/hearing the production effectively is subject to critique.
Where and when are contests?

Visit the Speech Contests, Theatre Contests, Debate Contests, or Middle Level contests pages 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.

Who are my local contest coordinators (high school)?

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

State Festival information has been moved to its own page.


September 20, 2019
Edgewood College, Madison