One-Act Play

  1. High schools (grades 9-12) may participate upon joining the WHSFA.
  2. From September 23 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.

Recent Rules Changes & Handbook

  • Handbook
  • 2021-22
  • 2020-21
  • 2019-20

Please see the tabs to the left to see rules changes for recent seasons, including the current season.

Theatre Handbook


New season Handbook updated September 23, 2021 (revised SpeechWire registration instructions).

Presentation Overview for Season (originally shared at AWTE Conference, 9/24/2021)
  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.

2021 Calendar Overview

Sept. 23: Initial registration opens
Oct. 4: Initial registration deadline
Oct. 12-23: Districts, window of dates*
Oct. 18: District virtual videos due
Oct. 20-23: District virtual adjudication
Oct. 25: Thespy Invitational video files due
Oct. 27-Nov. 1: Thespy Invitational adjudication
Oct. 28-Nov. 6: Sectionals, window of dates*
Nov. 1: Sectional virtual videos due
Nov. 3-6: Sectional virtual adjudication
Nov. 15: Virtual One-Act & Thespy State videos due
Nov. 17-21: State virtual adjudication
Nov. 18-20: State Festival, Stevens Point

Theatre Rights/Permissions Guide

Theatre Adjudicator Guidelines