One-Act Play Festival
West Virginia's premire high school theatrical experience!

(Governing Thespian Area and State Festivals; Revised September 2007 by WV State Thespian Board)

 SCHOOL ELIGBILITY                                                                                                                         

            All West Virginia high schools (grades 9-12) are fully eligible to participate in Area and State Thespian Festivals.  However, schools that do not have active Thespian Troupes in good standing will not have an official vote in selecting Area Reps, cannot serve on the State Thespian Board as an Area Rep, and will have to pay an additional fee for the WV State Thespian Festival.  Adjudication, awards and festival participation are not influenced by Thespian status.

            All West Virginia Middle Schools (grades 7 & 8) are eligible to participate in Area and State Thespian Festivals.  However, Middle Schools cannot be in competition against High Schools. 

            Schools are required to first participate within their own Areas before coming to the state festival. The form to register for an Area Festival is the Area Festival Formlocated in Appendix A in the back of this handbook.  The theatre teacher must complete and mail this form to State Director AND to the Area Rep by the due date given.  Fees must be paid to the State Director upon registration.  If extremely extenuating circumstances require a transfer to another Area, then advanced permission can be granted by using the same form. Permission must be obtained from both Area Reps involved and the State Director. 

Schools that win at Area Festivals, who would like another separate critique before going to the WV State Festival, may perform and receive such critiques in a different Area if they are willing to travel with the production.


STUDENT ELIGIBIITY                                                                                                                          

            All students who participate in the performance of a festival play, including technicians, backstage crew, operators and actors, must be of the age limits established by the WVSSAC for activity eligibility in grades 7-12.  In addition, all students who participate in the performance of a festival play, including technicians; backstage crew, operators and actors must be enrolled in the school they are performing with.  The State Director prior to the festival can grant special permission for students who wish to perform with a different school in extenuating circumstances.

            While we realize that some students attend more than one school and that some counties offer magnet or pull-out programs, no student may appear in more than one play that is entered into an Area or State Festival. 

          Load-in crews and live musicians backstage are permitted to be non-students affiliated with the performing school (adults, alumni, teachers, parents, etc.).  However, no non-student performers are allowed on the visible stage or work the tech of show during performance time. 


ORDER OF PERFORMANCE                                                                                                               

            At Area Festivals, there are two methods to determine the order of performance for the one-act plays.  First, the Area Host can have a drawing for places before the day of the festival. Another, more formal, method is to have each school’s representative meet 30 minutes prior to the Area Festival’s set registration time.  Each school will draw numbers in alphabetical order by school name.  The number drawn will be the slot in which the school will perform.  If a representative for a school is not present when numbers are drawn, the Area Host will do it for them. 

The Area Host, in conjunction with the Area Rep and the other theatre teachers of the area, can decide which method to use for the order of performance.  However, no matter what method is used, if a school does not appear by their pre-determined performance time, the school will forfeit.

            At State Festival, order of participation is determined on a “first-come-first-serve” basis as the State Play Entry Formsare received from the directors of the Area Festivals’ winning schools.  Special requests made in writing on the State Play Entry Form regarding dates and times of performance will be granted as long as it is possible for state festival coordinators to do so.

RUNNING TIME                                                                                                                                     

            Schools will be given a “running time” of 45 minutes to set up, perform and strike.  After the performance the three festival judges will give a critique.  Each judge’s critique is to last a maximum of 5 minutes.

The official length of the show (i.e. the show’s “Running Time”) shall be determined from the point when the host stage manager gives the school permission to “take the stage” until the point when the scenery is struck to the set storage area or to the wings. If the set up, performance and strike time exceeds the 45 minute time limit, the play’s director and the judges will be informed of the infraction by the Host’s Stage Manager and the judges will consider that as part of their adjudication.


TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS                                                                                                                       

Technical Walk-through:  A 60 minute technical walk-through is provided by the host prior to the performance of festival shows.  This walk-through is to allow students time to acquaint themselves with the technical capabilities of the host facility.  No scenery or sets will be allowed on the visual stage.  However, sets, special lighting, and sound systems can be set up in the wings, backstage or in the house.  Anything set up in the house must not block sightlines.  Students are allowed in the control room to review the sound and light boards.  Due to scheduling constraints, up to 3 high schools can have the same Technical Walk-through time.

Staging:  All plays will be performed on a basic curtained stage. Each school at the State Festival will be given a 30’ wide x 20’ deep area in which to perform.  The performance area will be taped off prior to the festival.  This performance area is subject to change at Area Festivals dependent upon their venue.

Properties & Scenery:  Any scenery or stage props can be used, but they must be set up and torn down during the 45-minute time limit by the cast and stage crew, with the play’s stage manager supervising.  Adults and teachers are not permitted to assist in the set-up but can answer questions from students.  The competing school must furnish all properties, but in case of an emergency, the host school or other schools at the festival can supply props or scenery.

General Lighting: The performance area will be lit in a soft wash and have a nine (9) area lighting plot.  If a school’s performance exceeds this space, it will not be lit; but will not be disqualified.  Other stage lights that happen to be up (such as cyc lights, strip lights, etc.), house lighting and work lights are also at the school’s control for use in their performance if they so desire.  Each school is guaranteed this general lighting plot.  Any additions must be considered Special Lighting.

Special Lighting:  Any special lighting (gels, special spots, color washes, cyc lights, followspots, etc.) must be provided by the performing school and cleared with the technical director at the host facility.  The Host facility CAN provide special lighting, IF prior arrangements are made before the opening day of the festival.  (i.e. if John Doe High School needs a followspot for their show, they can request one from the Host, but this needs to be done before the festival begins so the Host can have it ready.)  If no prior arrangements are made with the host before the beginning of the festival, the hanging, aiming, focusing, geling and/or programming of any special lighting must be done during the Technical Walk-Through time by the stage crew of the performing school in conjunction with the Host’s technical crew.  In addition, the performing school that uses the special lighting must return the stage lights to its prior condition after their show is done if the lights used are needed by another school.  This striking of special lighting can be considered part of the show’s Running Time if the lights needed by the very next show.

Sound:  If there are audio cues and/or music in your show, schools will need to specify ahead of time to the Host Facility how they are to be produced (i.e. Cassette, CD, computer, mini disk, etc.)  The Host is to provide the means to play sound cues so they can be heard in the house and backstage or the means for the performing school to hook into their sound system.  Backstage or “God” mics can also be provided by the Host with prior arrangement.  The Host must also provide a means to communicate from backstage to the control room, if necessary.  Any special sound equipment (i.e. body mics, additional monitors or amps) must be provided by the performing school with prior arrangement with the Host facility and must be set up during the allotted set up time.  



            Three judges shall adjudicate each play that is performed at a festival and may sit in the house wherever they wish.  After each play performance, each judge shall discuss the plays with the cast and crew present individually.  Each judge has 5 minutes to do so.  Judges must give a written critique as well as the verbal critique.  These comments shall be confined to helping the actors and crew.  No criticisms should be offered concerning the direction of the play at this meeting. Directing comments are furnished in writing to the director.

            After all the plays are performed, the judges are to be placed in separate rooms and rank (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) all plays WITHOUT CONFERRING WITH ONE ANOTHER.  After each judge ranks the plays separately, the State Director (or the Area Rep at Area Festivals if necessary) and the Host Representative will then add up the rankings for each school individually.  The five schools with the lowest rankings will be given Outstanding Performance Awards at the State Festival.  The ranking process can be the same at the Area Festival if there are a good number of schools performing.  A copy of these rankings can be given to any school director upon request.  No director, chaperone or student will be told their school’s final rating before awards are announced at the end of the festival.


AWARDS& SELECTION OF STATE FESTIVAL PLAYS                                                                                   

            The following performance awards will be presented at the WV State Thespian Festival: 32 All- Festival Cast Awards (at least 1 actor from each play and the rest will be given at the judges discretion); Best Actor; Best Actress; Best Supporting Actor; and Best Supporting Actress.

            At Area Festivals, schools will compete for the chance to perform at the WV State Thespian Festival. Only one-act plays or a cutting from a full-length play that conforms to the time limit will be chosen. Only one play per school is allowed to compete at Area Festival.  The following table shows the number of plays to be chosen from an Area for the WV State Thespian Festival: 


Total number of schools that enter a show at Area Festival (including Middle Schools)

Number of High Schools that will be invited to represent the Area at the WV State Thespian Festival

Number of Alternates (can include Middle Schools)


School represents area at state festival











5 or more



               Middle schools can participate at Area Festivals to receive a critique.  Middle Schools can also be considered for an Alternate Play or as a “Wild Card” to perform their show at the State Festival for exhibition only.  However, when Middle Schools perform at the State Festival they will not be allowed to compete against high school entries. Middle School actors will not be considered for Outstanding Acting Awards, but they can earn All-Festival Cast Awards.

               The one-act festival judges from each area may recommend through written justification to the State Director that the Alternate Play receive a “Wild Card Slot” to compete at the State Festival in order to fulfill the programming needs of the State Festival.  Middle Schools can be selected as a Wild Card Play but can only participate within the given rules for Middle Schools.

                If a cancellation of a play occurs leaving a slot open at the State Festival, the slot will be offered to the Alternate from that Area.  If the Alternate declines, the State Director can then offer the competitive slot to other plays from that Area in order of ranking.  If no play from that Area is available, the competitive slot is to be filled by lottery from among all qualified Alternates.

             At the WV State Thespian Festival, each Middle and High School that brings a play will receive a Participation Award.  In addition, five (5) Outstanding Performance Awards will be given to High Schools.  Directors are strongly urged to be in attendance at the Awards Ceremony to receive these awards.


ENTRY FORMS AND REGISTRATION                                                                                                     

            Schools that earn the privilege to perform at the WV State Thespian Festival must email, mail or fax a State Play Entry Form to the State Director and to the State Festival Host by the deadline indicated on the form.  Failure to do so may result in forfeiting the performance slot to an alternate.



          Duplication of one-act shows is acceptable.  (i.e. more than one school can perform the same play)

          Each school entering a play is responsible for payment of royalty fees direct to the publisher.  A play and its performers may be disqualified from awards if royalties are not paid.

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