MIDDLE SCHOOL DRAMA FESTIVAL
Director’s Guide and Check List
Updated February 2018
- HOW TO BEGIN
- DIRECTOR’S MEETING
- FESTIVAL PREP
- TECHNICAL REHEARSAL
- DAY OF FESTIVAL
- CAST EXPECTATIONS
- FESTIVAL FOLLOW-UP
- FORMS: ONLINE/HARD COPIES
- OVERVIEW OF FESTIVAL RULES
- WHAT I WISH SOMEONE TOLD ME: ADVICE FROM PAST DIRECTORS
- WAIVER POLICY for METG MIDDLE SCHOOL FESTIVAL
Welcome to the METG Middle School Drama Festival. This packet will give you all the information you will need to perform your scene or short play in the Festival. Please take the time to read the following information very carefully.
HOW TO BEGIN
- Membership: Participants must be current members of the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild with membership paid in full by the METG Annual Meeting in October.
- Festival Play Titles are due in early January. In 2018-2019, they are due on January 7th.
- Please read the Overview of Festival Rules from this guide in their entirety,
- February Meeting: Attendance is mandatory for all New Directors (or an appropriate adult representative of your company) and ALL (new and returning) Host Schools for Festival. Mark your calendars.
- 2019 Hosts/New Directors Meeting is February 9 at Lynnfield Middle School at 10 AM
- Site Meeting - Festival Site Placements are made in February, and on a particular date in March (TBD), the Host Schools will have on-site Meetings for all Directors (or an appropriate adult representative).
- Play Selection:
- Plays must be under 40 minutes. Additionally, cast and crew will receive five minutes to set up and five minutes to strike your play. Please keep these time restrictions in mind when selecting a performance piece.
- Note: The METG website is a good resource if you are struggling to find an age appropriate play that fits the time limit. Plays performed in previous years are listed. Publishers such as playscripts.com, theatrefolk.com,youthplays.com, www.histage.com, brookpub.com, Samuel French, and Dramatists Play Service, in addition to many others, offer a variety of age-appropriate one-act plays and would be good places for a new director to begin their search.
- Obtain Permission to Perform
- Contact the company that owns the rights to the play to obtain permission to perform before announcing the show to your students or scheduling auditions.
- If a play is an original work or public domain, you do not need to obtain rights.
- Encourage Students to Enter T-Shirt Logo Contest
- Each year, a contest is held for the MS METG Logo. This year, all designs are due by February 1, 2019, and can be submitted online.
- Finalists will be chosen by the METG Middle School Council.
- A winning logo will be selected from the finalists by a poll shared through METG’s social media channels.
- Each school may submit 10 entries.
- CLICK HERE to go to the METG website for more information.
FESTIVAL SITE MEETING - MARCH
This is a mandatory event for all Directors and Host Schools. Please plan accordingly as you create your rehearsal schedule.
This is a great time to gather information about the site you are at, meet your fellow directors, and problem solve any concerns you have regarding the festival day and your production.
In preparation for the meeting:
- Fill out the online form regarding:
- Director’s Information
- Music Use
- Content - Disclaimers and/or warnings
- Sharps (Weapons)/Stage Combat
- Size and quantity of scenery
- Expected Number of Cast, Crew and Adults attending Festival
- A hard copy of the Permission to Perform - ALSO can be submitted online with above.
- A hard copy of Permission to Cut/Edit (if needed) - ALSO can be submitted online with above.
At the site meeting:
- The Host School may choose their performance slot. The other directors will draw the order of performance randomly. If there is a special situation after performance order is drawn and two directors wish to trade, that is acceptable.
- Select a time for each school’s Tech Rehearsal.
- Hosts share:
- information about the Technical Capabilities of their space.
- information about meals for the day.
- directions and contact information about your Host School
- Meet the fellow directors at your site and share contact information
- Mark pertinent deadlines about meal quantities, money and program page
- Look at a sample program page AND Company Breakdown Sheet
- All Non-Middle School Students and Adults should be identified with an asterisk in the program.
POST DIRECTOR’S MEETING - MID-MARCH UNTIL FESTIVAL DAY
- Please cc the MS Council President on communications with your host. email@example.com
- Provide information by the deadlines given by your host school (i.e. tech rehearsal versus Festival Day).
- Share the Judging Rubric with your cast and crew.
- Obtain necessary transportation for students and sets now that you know your festival location.
- Share FamilyID link information with all parents/guardians of students involved.
- You will receive an email with the link and instructions.
- This is a requirement of all students attending as part of your cast and crew.
- The Guild will send a weekly list of all students currently registered in FamilyID, so you can cross-check that with your company list.
- Get an accurate count/money from students ordering meals in advance, as needed, for your site. (For example, Pizza Dinner.) Each site may handle meals in a slightly different way, so please follow their directions.
- Keep in touch with your Host regarding any changes to the amount of scenery you are planning to bring and number of attendees. They need this information to be accurate to facilitate the day and appropriately plan.
- Create your program page. Samples will be shared in the Google Folder for Directors.
- Confirm the size, format and deadline as specified by your host school.
- Remember to put an * beside any production staff members that are adults.
- Program page must contain the same disclaimers or content alerts that you previously submitted with Director’s Information.
- Students who worked on the production but who are not attending Festival may be credited on the program page. IMPORTANT: Please note this on your Company Breakdown Sheet for the judges, so they are not accidentally given All Star Company Awards.
- The Tech Rehearsal at the Host Site is for one hour only during the week prior to Festival.
- You have the option to bring your full company, crew only or director only. It is at your discretion as to what way works best for your school/show.
- The purpose of the Technical Rehearsal is to program any light cues on the host school’s board, test any sound cues or the host school’s equipment, and to spike the stage for any set moves within your production. You may also run any or all of the show to check spacing and projection in the space.
- Follow your host’s checklist for what to bring to this rehearsal, such as pizza money, Company Breakdown sheet, a copy of the script, and any hard copy med forms (if needed). You must have completed the Timing/Supervisors Info Form online prior to your tech rehearsal.
- Be on time. Your hour begins at the time you are scheduled for, not one hour from when you arrive.
- If you cannot travel to the Tech Rehearsal with your set, you may want to bring measurements and/or a paper or cardboard footprint of your set pieces.
- Spike tape will be provided by the host school.
- You will find out the tech capabilities at the Director’s Meeting so you can plan accordingly. Hands-on training and troubleshooting will be available at your tech rehearsal. However, if you have questions before your tech rehearsal, please contact your host, and cc firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Ask where to check in and the location of your classroom for the day of Festival to help make that morning run smoothly.
- The Host School’s Technical Director should be on site to advise. In addition, there will be students available from the Host School to run simple lights up/lights down cues or curtain pulls, if needed.
Remember - every site is different, every year is different… please remain flexible and work with your host school.
DAY OF FESTIVAL
You made it!
Remember, you are setting the standard for your students. Please exemplify the Spirit of Festival.
- The festival is an educational enterprise. It is that spirit that should be embraced by all participants. Avoid encouraging over competitive behavior that takes away from the enjoyment of the day.
- The festival is about highlighting the great work schools have done all year. Don’t permit students to make negative comments about other shows at any time during the festival.
- Remind students AND adults that comments (positive OR negative) could be overheard by company members or their families at any point in the day - discussion of shows should be kept to your home room with the door closed, or reserved for a company meeting back at your home school.
- Remind students AND adults that they are guests of the host school and should display exemplary behavior.
- Please stress the importance of students being respectful of other students’ work and conducting themselves as a good audience. Performers appreciate enthusiastic applause and laughter at jokes, but no whistling or shouting.
- Doing “the wave” or chants, cheers or other similar behaviors while waiting for the next performance is not appropriate.
- Directors will be expected to attend a meeting at the beginning of the day - typically 8:15. Plan to arrive at the site with enough time to settle your students in before the meeting time - A chaperone must stay with your students.
- Proper etiquette is expected in the theatre. Leading by example is the best educational tool.
- Host schools are not responsible for security in your classroom for personal property.
- At the site meeting, the directors should come to an agreement on policy for the day in terms of when student phones are collected and later redistributed. (Example: Collect before the director’s meeting in the morning, redistribute during dinner break)
- Collected phones should be powered down completely, not just put on “Vibrate”.
- NOTE: Storm warnings and Amber Alerts will override Silent Mode - “off” is best.)
- It is an unofficial METG tradition that when the emcees are reading the rules prior to each production, the audience claps once, together, to acknowledge each rule.
- To prepare for the Q&A at the end of the day: Guide your students to craft at least two or three questions about the production process for each show - not about the show itself (e.g. Why does Hamlet hate his uncle?) You will be given index cards to write down questions, one per question…
- Creating these questions throughout the day at assigned break times rather than all at once at the end of the daykeeps the production fresh in the mind of the students.
- Guide your students to create a Student Recognition Award that authentically recognizes strengths of the work of as many members of the company as possible for the show that performs immediately following yours. You may recognize multiple production or acting elements if you wish, but not individual students. This is not an award for an individual student, but instead a celebration of the entire production!
- Last show of the day recognizes the first show of the day.
- An extra copy of the award on standard paper is provided for a rough draft. Use the cardstock version for the final draft.
- Select two students to represent your production in advance to go up and present and receive the Recognition Award when called.
- After the Award Ceremony, the Director is responsible for going to the Judges’ Room to pick up the paperwork and trophy for their school.
- Clean Up time is provided to allow guest schools to pack up scenery and clean their room.
- Please have students check and recheck to make sure all personal belongings are accounted for.
- TICKETS AND ADMISSION – There will be an admission charge for anyone not participating in the festival. The cost of a ticket (val is $10. Please inform your parents of this prior to festival. The cast and crew of a show will not need a ticket. They will be given a button at the beginning of the day that will let them into the performances. Buttons will be available only to those students listed in the program. Lost button cost is $10.
- Chaperones should be included in your headcount for the day and will not need to purchase a button. Additional chaperones over the required ratio of 1:10 students will need to purchase a button.
- Please contact the M.S. Council President if an adult chaperone is needed as a one-on-one aide for a student. email@example.com
- You may provide a statement to the judges to assist adjudicators by providing a clearer understanding of the choices you have made for your production. This form is optional, and is located on the online Director’s Information form.
STUDENTS - COMPANY EXPECTATIONS
- Festival is an event, an experience and a tradition. It is not a party.
- At the Middle School Festival you do not “Win” or “Lose” to any of the other schools.
- Productions are scored on a rubric and production teams are encouraged to strive to give the best performance they can.
- Festival is an opportunity to socialize with like-minded students that love theatre as much as you do. The day is about encouraging and supporting the effort of the other schools, not about competition.
- All Star Company Awards are cause for celebration! A recognition for any member of the company is a recognition for the ENTIRE company.
No two festival days are alike from site to site and year to year. It is in the Post-Festival reflection and conversation can affect change or assure that we continue with the elements of the day that were successful.
- What should you do with your judges’ comments?
- Some of the judges’ comments are intended for the company members, and others are intended for the directors.
- Share with your company only those comments you feel will help them improve their craft in the future.
- Judges do their best to frame their comments in a positive, constructive manner, but there still may be comments you don’t agree with.
- Try your best to not get defensive, or to take them personally.
- It might even be a good idea to look them over again after some time has gone by as you may be in a better place to hear them.
- Talk with your fellow directors, your students and parents and find out what they liked about the festival experience and where they thought there could be improvement.
- You will be given an opportunity to provide the guild with feedback on the festival.
- It is helpful to not only point out areas you feel could use improvement but to also make suggestions as to how that improvement could be facilitated.
- Be sure to thank your host. They put months of work into making your festival day a success.
FORMS: ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS
In February, all Festival directors will receive a link to a shared Google Drive Folder containing:
- This manual
- Samples of Program pages
- Samples of Company Breakdown Sheets
- Guidelines for the Q&A Session
- A sample Festival Rubric
- Other important notices about METG programs
You will also receive emails with links to:
- FamilyID registration
- Voting links for the Logo Contest
- A form for submitting show timing information prior to Tech Rehearsal
OVERVIEW OF FESTIVAL RULES
- To enter the Festival, a school must be a member of the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild, with membership dues paid in full prior to the annual directors’ meeting in October.
- All Hosts (both new and returning) and NEW directors must attend the MANDATORY meeting in February at the Lynnfield Middle School in Lynnfield.
- All festival directors must attend the MANDATORY site meeting in March at your Festival host site. During that meeting, you will make arrangements for a technical rehearsal at your assigned site.
- For the purpose of this festival, Middle School refers to grades five (5) through nine (9), but you may only use students from your own school.
- A play selected for entry must be approved by the participating school’s principal as indicated by his or her signature on the “Drama Festival Entry Form.”
- A school is responsible for obtaining permission from the publisher or author for the performance of its entry and for paying all applicable royalty fees.
- Permission to perform a cutting of a longer work or to combine two or more works under a banner title must also be obtained from the publisher(s).
- Proof of permission to perform and payment of royalty must be submitted by or at the Site Meeting in March, but no later than two weeks prior to the festival date.
- No play may exceed 40 minutes.
- A musical or cutting from a musical is not permitted unless the publisher grants specific written permission for the play to be performed without the sung material. Scene-change music, incidental music, background music, and songs that occur in the text of a non-musical play are permitted as long as they are no longer than 30 seconds in length.
- Dance is permitted if it occurs in the text of a non-musical play. Interpretive movement, with or without music, is also permitted if it occurs in the text of a non-musical play. In any case, all music and/or dance must have prior approval from the Middle School Council President.
- Original plays are permitted.
- Plays may be student directed. In this case, a staff member or designated adult must accompany the student director to the Directors’ Meeting and festival, and must act in a supervisory capacity.
- Each school will be given five (5) minutes to set up and five (5) minutes to strike their set.
- All technical elements, including set, lighting/sound design, and special effects, must be able to be accommodated by the existing physical and technical capabilities of the host schools.
- Since host schools vary greatly in their production resources, directors are strongly advised to keep the technical elements of their productions simple and flexible. (This will be discussed in detail at the Site Meeting in March.)
- The Host Tech Director/Stage Manager will be in charge of backstage supervision and safety.
- Backstage supervision by an adult from a performing school is encouraged. This may or may not be the director.
- An adult supervisor from a participating school may NOT set up or strike the set or participate in the production. The adult may act in a supervisory capacity only. In addition, students are encouraged to run the lights and sound for each production. There is an opportunity to learn the host school’s system at the tech rehearsal. Alternately, the host school will provide a technician to run the system. If so, directors must provide the host technician with a script, lighting and sound cues at the tech rehearsal.
- School may use whatever set pieces are necessary for their production provided they fit through a standard single doorway. No pre-assembly of set materials is permitted in the wings prior to the beginning of the 5 minute set-up.
- Microphone usage is not allowed onstage to amplify voices in any way. Offstage microphones are permitted for sound effects, voice overs, etc.
- Attendance of the director, as well as the FULL cast and crew is MANDATORY at all performances except the one immediately preceding their own. Schools must abide by the host school’s safety and fire codes.
NOTE: Safety of students performing is paramount to the Guild. If elements of the set, use of the set, or blocking seem to pose a physical hazard to the students, then the Guild reserves the right to require modifications to be made before performing, and the on-site supervisor has the right to make the decision. Please share any concerns regarding this rule at the site meeting.
WHAT I WISH SOMEONE TOLD ME: ADVICE FROM PAST DIRECTORS
- For your first time, I'd avoid choosing shows with a lot of technical challenges.... Lots of sound cues, lighting effects, and so forth. Keep it simple. You will have enough to worry about.
- You need permission to cut a published work and not all publishers grant that permission. Find out about your ability/permission to cut/edit before committing to a certain play.
- Try to catch one of the rounds of the high school festival for inspiration.
- Insist the kids memorize their lines by the second week of rehearsal. They will complain, but they can do it, and then the time you spend at the rest of your rehearsals will be more meaningful without being encumbered by scripts.
- Try the app "Remind" (www.remind.com) which you can use to send your cast and parents daily text messages to let them know what is being rehearsed that day and if possible, who you need. I did it last year and parents loved it. People don't always check email, but they always check texts. This would supplement your other communications. At minimum, set up a group email list for cast and parents to keep everyone in the loop with the schedule and changes.
- Another great app is Dialogue Partner which actors can use to help them memorize lines.
- When it comes to putting on a middle school play, parents are your friends. You will need their help. Put out those requests for help early and often.
- Your alumni (i.e. high school students) can also be a great resource. They often need community service hours. Have them work with your actors on developing their characters, memorizing lines, or even blocking that challenging scene you've been dreading. Put them to work! It will benefit you and your show, but the experience will benefit them even more.
- Take advantage of the guild's Master Class Program. The Guild can arrange for theater pros to come work with your students on just about anything you can imagine.
- If you're missing certain costume pieces or props, try calling your nearby middle and high school directors. Every time I've made one of those connections, I've found the person on the other end was thrilled to have the opportunity to share resources and in some cases we have formed long-lasting professional relationships.
- If you are confused, ask! METG Council members are here to help you!
- Above all, inspire in your students a friendly and welcoming attitude about the entire experience. Take the opportunity to set a positive tone, which will carry through the festival. Encourage your students to be good sports, to applaud all winners, to speak positively about their competitors and to make new friends.
- HAVE A GREAT FESTIVAL DAY
Waiver Policy for METG Middle School Festival
The guiding philosophy of the METG Middle School Drama Festival is that the entire day is an educational theatre experience for all students. It is required that all student participants are present for all of the performances that are scheduled. If a student were to miss seeing a show without permission, that could disqualify the entire school for a medal.
That being said, the METG recognizes that there are sometimes unavoidable conflicts that come up during the week before festival that could not have been predicted or planned for, and there is a waiver policy in place to help address this very issue.
Participation in Festival is a major commitment, and before asking for a waiver, the director should have a clear and thorough conversation with the student and their family, as necessary. Requesting a waiver is a last resort, and therefore should not be utilized in lieu of such a conversation.
We strongly encourage directors to talk with students and families about any special concerns for each student as they relate to Festival Day. Directors - you know your students better than the Council and Supervisors ever will. We rely on you to proactively communicate with them.
The policy for requesting a waiver for a particular student’s full attendance is as follows:
A waiver must be requested by the director by contacting the MS President in writing via email by the Tuesday before Festival, with the exceptions to that deadline being a true medical emergency (student or family member) or a death in the student’s family.
Waivers may be requested for:
- Special Event Waiver - A student being part of a team that is unexpectedly moving on in a tournament as the result of a game/playoff the weekend before Festival. (sports/dance/cheer)
- Medical Waiver - for students that have medical issues that would prevent them being able to sit in the auditorium through all performances.
- Medical Waiver - for students needing one-on-one adult support (including backstage)
- Content Waiver - content disclaimers will be posted in several locations on Festival day, and discussed at the director’s meeting on the morning of Festival. If a director knows that a particular subject matter is a trigger for a student (i.e. divorce, etc.) the Supervisor on site can grant a waiver on Festival Day, and the student would remain outside the auditorium with an adult chaperone from their school during that performance only)
- Medical Waiver - if a student becomes ill at Festival, the Supervisor for the day may grant a waiver for that student to remain at the nurse’s station or be dismissed.
Waivers will not be granted for:
- Tournaments, Competitions, Rehearsals or Performances that the student was scheduled for weeks or months in advance. This includes sports/dance/cheer/music/math, etc.
- Attendance at a wedding, birthday party or other similar family/friend event
- Miscommunications within student’s family about carpools or weekend custody arrangements on Festival day
- Additional rehearsals that are added to the original schedule for a dance recital or another show
Religious event notes:
If a student were participating in their own personal religious ceremony/rite during the Festival day (Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation, Naming Ceremony, etc.) a waiver would be given. However, we strongly encourage a conversation between the director and the student and their family about the reality of added responsibilities and commitments at such an important time for the family. Please encourage the student and their family to also discuss the possibility of the student participating in Festival (e.g. rehearsal schedule) with their clergy.
School-related Disciplinary Situations:
We hope this situation does not arise!
Festival Participation for students who receive a school-related disciplinary consequence during the week of the show that carries through Festival weekend, such as an in-school suspension or prohibition of afterschool activities, would be discussed only if the school grants their participation in the show, so as not to negatively impact the other participants from the school with their absence, and this exemption from a school-based consequence would need to be in writing from an administrator.