Middle School Festival
Revised January, 2018
Dear Host School,
Thank you for hosting this year’s Massachusetts Middle School Drama Festival. The enclosed packet has information you will need for hosting and for the site meeting with directors in March.
This document contains:
Other necessary forms mentioned in this Host manual can be accessed on the METG website (or by clicking the links if you are looking at this electronically):
Template for entering timing information for site (will ask you to make a copy automatically)
All Star Award Template (for Computers)
Timer/Supervisor information sheet
Make sure that you have the theatre (and any other rooms you will be using, such as classrooms, cafeteria, photocopy room, adjudicators’ room) reserved for the date of festival.
Reserve the theater for afternoon tech rehearsals for the week prior to festival.
Check with your school to see if they require a Certificate of Liability (COL) from METG.
_____ Classrooms: One classroom for each of the schools at your site. Schools will keep coats, costumes, small props and makeup in this classroom. You may want to find out the size of each school’s cast and crew ahead of time. Larger groups may need to be accommodated in two classrooms. Individual host sites will have to decide whether or not food is permitted in the classrooms.
_____ Adjudicator Room: You will need to provide a workroom for the adjudicators and supervisors. Often a teacher’s room or guidance office works well. This room should contain and/or have close proximity to copiers, computers, large tables, and comfortable chairs. There are rules for the adjudicators’ room. No one is allowed in the room except supervisor and adjudicators. People bringing food should knock and the supervisor will take the food. The supervisor should be given a key to the adjudicators’ room to use throughout the day as it needs to be locked during each performance.
_____ Set Storage Space: You will need to have space to hold the sets of all the schools between shows. Sometimes a gym or music area is used. If you have wing space to hold two or three sets you may be able to put other sets outside and change them all at the lunch break or the afternoon break between shows. If you are short on space you can ask the afternoon schools to hold their sets on their buses or trucks and change at the lunch break. Be sure this change is clearly organized so as not to take up too much time and delay the start of the afternoon shows.
_____ Cafeteria: You will need to provide a space for participants to eat lunch and dinner.
_____ Space for Directors’ Meeting: You will need to provide a space for the Directors’ meeting that will take place first thing in the morning. This space should be separate from the Adjudicators’ room and should be big enough to accommodate all directors, supervisors and any volunteers, such as timers and the nurse, who need to attend the meeting.
_____ Certificate Printer/Calligrapher Workspace: This should be a locked room with a computer (connected to a dedicated printer if at all possible) where this person can work between shows. No one except for the Festival Supervisor or Calligrapher should enter this room.
_____ Nurse’s Office: You will need a designated space with medical supplies where participants can locate the nurse when she is not in the theater. A centrally located space is ideal.
Auditorium/Theater & Lobby
_____ Signs in theater designating where each school should sit
_____ Masking tape to tape off seats
_____ Five to six stopwatches (3 for timers + 1 for Technical Director + extras)
_____ Clipboard with Attendance Sheet for the Checker
_____ Lobby: Timer Poster -- This can be a large sheet of post-it paper or an easel with dry erase board on it.
_____ Lobby: Content Alert Poster - please summarize content alerts for each school, or prominently post all program pages with content alerts highlighted in some way.
_____ Lobby: Signs indicating where to find bathrooms, classrooms, etc….
_____ Lobby: Ticket Table with a tally sheet, cash box, tickets (or stamp). Note: You may choose to print tickets or use a stamper, however, you should ensure that ticket sellers are keeping an accurate tally of tickets sold on a Tally sheet.
_____ Lobby: Registration Table & Welcome packets
_____ Signs on doors
_____ Decorations (optional)
_____ A large table for sorting material.
_____ Comfortable chairs for the adjudicators.
_____ A whiteboard with colored marks to keep track of awards for schools. ( Large
Post-It pads on an easel work well too)
_____ Clipboards: one for each adjudicator and supervisor (4 total)
_____ Ballpoint pens: for adjudicators, supervisors, and extras
_____ Highlighters: for adjudicators, supervisors, and extras
_____ Small flashlights: for adjudicators and supervisor (have
extras) Pens with built in lights, small flashlights on a key
ring or clip on book lights work best. (Extra batteries are advisable.)
_____ 5 programs: adjudicators will mark these with notes or
_____ Refreshments (which should be restocked throughout the day). The food
provided should be easy to eat as they will be working while they eat.
_____ 10 Large manila envelopes – for Judges and Supervisors - one for each school and five for the guild, plus extras. (11X18 is suggested)
_____ A folder or envelope for each school containing forms collected at their Tech Rehearsal. Please make a note if anything is missing for a particular school.
_____ Computers with printers and internet connection (have back-up computers available too). Plan on having one computer for each judge and supervisor, as well as a few back-ups just in case there are technical difficulties.
_____ Blank paper for printers and copiers
_____ Name tags
_____ Paper clips
_____ Stapler and staples
_____ Blank paper for adjudicators to write on
_____ Post it notes – for adjudicators to make comments to put on an award.
_____ Trophies: (these will be given to you at the Director’s Meeting)
_____ Copies of Guild judging guidelines
_____ Rubrics for adjudicators: Print one copy per school for each judge and place them on the clipboards for the judges to take notes during the shows.
Set Storage Space
_____ Signs for each school
______ Tables and signs for concessions (optional)
______ Coolers to keep concession drinks cold (optional)
Space for Directors’ Meeting
______ Coffee and/or continental breakfast (optional)
______ Tables & plenty of chairs
Certificate Printer/Calligrapher Workspace
______ Computer with printer (Templates should be in a folder on the desktop of the
______ METG awards and stickers
______ Directions for wording on awards
Welcome Packets for Directors
_____ Buttons for each school (from METG)
_____ Name Tags for adults, plus extras
_____ Several maps of the school
_____ Several programs
_____ One copy of the Recognition Award on plain paper (to be used as a draft)
_____ One copy of the Recognition Award on cardstock (final copy)
_____ Fifteen index cards (for Q&A Session Questions)
_____ Copy of festival rules
_____ Copy of Q&A Session Information
You will need to have people to help you with festival. Some roles can be filled by middle school students, while others should be filled by adults or high schools students. A great way to get people to coordinate volunteers is by using Sign Up Genius (a free website).
Due to the fact that the state requires all adults who are supervising students to be CORIed, we highly suggest that you check with the Superintendent’s Office in your town to see if your adult volunteers for the day need to be CORIed
The Guild requires the following personnel:
_____ Nurse: A licensed nurse or EMT must be available during the festival and the awards ceremony in case there is a problem. This can be the school nurse or the mother/father of a student. A volunteer is great, but this is also an allowable expense. This can get costly if you are charged union rates, so look for a reduced rate if possible. If your local high school hosts Festival, be sure to check to see what they are paying for nurses.
_____ Timers: You will need three adults (or one adult and two high school students) with stop watches to time the shows. This is a volunteer position. The rule that the Guild strictly adheres to is the time limit rule. Shows have 40 minutes to perform. It is suggested that the timers sit in separate areas of the auditorium. If they go over on all three watches they are disqualified from receiving an award for the play itself. (Cast members are still able to receive all-star awards.)
_____ Checker: This is a volunteer (who could be a very responsible high school student) who stands at a central location in the auditorium and who checks off when a school’s director tells them that all their students are in the house and seated. A show will not start until all schools are accounted for. The checker then contacts the technical director/supervisor, who lets adjudicators know and begins the next show. It is also helpful if this person wears something distinctive (a scarf, hat, etc.) so they can be easily identified.
_____ Technical Director: This is an adult volunteer, or possibly a very experienced, very mature high school student, from your school system that is in charge of the backstage set-ups and strikes, lighting, sound, etc. This person determines if sets are safe and controls the movement of sets to and from stage. If you do not have a separate festival staff member to open and close the curtain, your technical director must do this as well. This person also determines which crew receives the Stage Manager’s Choice Award and presents it during the award ceremony. The technical director should know that a director (or other supervising adult) may be backstage during their production for safety purposes only (i.e. a student is on stilts). Directors (or other adults) may not move sets, help with props, say lines, run lights or sound, prompt, or be backstage for any other reason. The technical director should be at each school’s technical rehearsal. The technical director times the set-up and strike of the set for each school. Although the set-up and strike time are timed (five minutes) by the technical director, if it is necessary to take extra time for safety or to correct a problem that the technical director deems necessary this extra time is not counted. The supervisor should be consulted/informed if this is necessary. Both set-up and strike must be within five minutes for a cast/crew to be eligible for the Stage Manager’s Choice Award. This award is based upon backstage efficiency and professionalism as well as good conduct and being easy to work with. The host school is not eligible for this award, which is presented by the technical director during the awards ceremony.
_____ Sound/Light Technicians: This should be an adult or qualified high school student who can assist the middle school students in running the light and sound board. If a school does not have someone to run their lights, this technician will run the lights or sound for their show providing that they have been given a script and all cues at the technical rehearsal. This person should be at each school’s technical rehearsal. This person will also run the lights for the emcee between each show and should stay in the booth during each show in case there is a problem. This job could be done by two people -- one for lights and one for sound. These people should also be in charge of lights and sound for the opening and closing ceremonies.
_____ Runners: These are volunteers and can be adults or students (high school or middle school). They remain outside the adjudicators’ room when the adjudicators are working and run any necessary errands, such as obtaining needed supplies, information from directors or whatever else is needed. The runner should not go into the adjudicators’ room. If you don’t have a walkie-talkie or communication system from backstage to your house, you may want to consider having a runner to deliver messages to and from your technical director. Some host directors find it helpful to have their own personal runner for the day to help send messages. If this runner can be an adult assistant, they can be helpful in sending off to help solve any problems which may arise as well.
_____ Front of House Manager: This should be an adult who is able to stay all day. This person runs errands for the tickets sellers, coordinates the ushers, answers any questions, helps coordinate the runners and makes sure there is staff who remain in the lobby during each show. This person waits for the technical director and checker to say that they are ready for the next show to begin. This person then sends a runner to the adjudicators’ room to get the adjudicators. This person could also make announcements over the PA system, if need be.
_____ Printer of Certificates/Calligrapher: You will need a person who will type the names of the All-Star winners into a template throughout the day and print them out. This should be a person who is available all day (but can still view shows) and should NOT be a parent or current student (or even a high school student) as they will be privy to both who is being awarded and who was going to be awarded, but was decided against. This person should be fairly proficient with computers .
_____ Emcees: These may be students (preferably high school) who lead the audience and students through the day. Students enjoy doing this but should be reminded to keep it short and that the job is not a performance. Students should be reminded to dress nicely, as they will be very visible throughout the day. See Emcee script enclosed in packet. Remind the Emcees of the expected behavior for Festival participants, and ask them not to encourage stadium behavior or cheers in the audience. Emcees may come in and announce rules, but may not announce the next show until given the cue by the supervisor that the judges are seated.
_____ Ushers: These may be middle school students. They can hand out programs and show guest to the their designated seating area. They check name tags/pins/tickets.
_____ Lobby Supervisors: These should be adults who control noise in lobby during performances and permit NO ONE to enter the theatre during a performance.
_____ Hosts: Two students (per school) that are assigned to be with a performing school during the day. The host greets the performing school when they arrive, shows them where to unload or put their set, and takes them to their room. The host checks in with the school during the day and helps them to find their way around or answers questions for them. If possible, the host should greet the school at tech rehearsal to show the way to the theater, bathrooms, etc. Another optional activity is for the hosts to decorate the door or classroom of each of the visiting schools to make them feel welcome when they arrive in the morning. Decoration of classroom/door, if done, would need to be done at your expense.
_____ Registration: This adult compiles the Welcome Packets for Directors and greets the schools as they arrive on festival morning. At the registration table each performing school will check in with the registration person and pick up their packet, pins, and festival t-shirts (if ordered).
_____ Curtain: Someone to open and close the curtain between each show. This may be a student.
_____ Custodians: Schedule what your school requires.
_____ Police/Fire Detail: Does your school require this of you?
_____ Program: Get a volunteer to organize and print your program. You are responsible for providing a program for the day. This program should include the METG logo and title of festival on the front cover as well as the website at the bottom. On the inside, please include the rules and a schedule for the day. A sheet with rules is included in this packet. You also need to include credit to the Massachusetts Cultural Council. This logo is included on the sample program page. Feel free to include a page with your festival staff members. You should receive a one-page program from each of the schools, which must arrive copy-ready, and include the content alerts that they submitted with their information after the Directors’ Meeting in March.
We suggest a due-date approximately two weeks before festival.
_____ Tickets: Get parents or high schoolers to handle ticket sales throughout the day until the last show goes up. Hard tickets are not necessary (Other things that work well: a hand stamp or stickers, such as address labels, that you can print the logo on). Ticket sellers must keep a careful tally of how many tickets are sold. The cost of the tickets is determined by the Guild. Ticket prices this year are $10.00 for everyone. There are no special rates for anyone. You will need to fill out a festival expense form for the Guild and turn in half of the gate receipts after allowable expenses are taken out.
_____ Hospitality: Enlist parent volunteers to help with this. You must provide lunch and dinner, as well as snacks throughout the day, for the supervisors and judges. It is optional for you to provide breakfast foods for the directors’ meeting in the morning, but it is a nice thing to do. Breakfast for the directors’ room would need to be done at your expense. This is not an allowable expense.
_____ Concessions: A great way for your school to make a ton of money. Some ideas: coffee and doughnuts, hot dogs, chips and nachos, soda, candy, etc. A concession table with food and drink for sale during the day often brings in money for the host school. Any money that is raised through this concession is the property of the school and is not shared with the Guild.
_____ Meal Coordinator: If you are selling lunch and/or dinner to participants, find a parent volunteer to help coordinate the ordering, payment and delivery of the food. There are many options here: 1)You can ask students to bring their lunch and have your cafeteria staff prepare food for supper that students will purchase. 2) For lunch, you could consider going to a local sandwich shop, such as D’Angelo or Subway to pre-order bag lunches. (Students can order and pay ahead of time. Order forms can be collected and used as lunch tickets on the day of Festival). 3) For dinner, you may choose to order pizza and have schools pay you for the pizzas. Sometimes the pizza order is given by the schools ahead of time with a check and ordered from a local pizzeria.
_____ Cafeteria Personnel: Does your school require you to hire cafeteria personnel if you use the cafeteria for lunch and dinner?
_____ Clean-Up: So you don’t get stuck doing it alone.
Set-up Prior to Festival
_____ Verify that all technical systems, such as lights and sound systems are
working properly prior to the first tech rehearsal.
_____ If your lights need to be refocused, please do so prior to the first tech
_____ Please clear your stage prior to each tech rehearsal.
_____ Day prior: reserve seats for the two adjudicators and supervisor in the auditorium. They should sit apart from one another and all seats around them should be taped off as well. The supervisor may choose to sit behind one of the adjudicators. Some adjudicators prefer to pick their own seats while others have no problem with you taping seats off for them.
_____ Day prior: Tape off three seats for Timers. These should be spaced out in the theater.
_____ Day prior: Hang signs in the lobby for any shows with content warnings. These should be hung prominently.
_____ After performances conclude for the day:
-Set up a podium/microphone and a table with 4 chairs on stage behind the main curtain for the awards ceremony.
-Set up chairs for all directors in front of main curtain for the Q&A Session.
_____ Day prior: Set up Registration and Ticket Tables
_____ Day prior: Hang Timer Poster and Content Alert Poster(s) in a prominent location
_____ Day prior: Place programs by entrances to auditorium/lobby
_____ Week prior: Notify the teachers PRIOR TO FESTIVAL that their rooms will be used and ask them to remove personal effects from the top of the desks. While the students are typically very appropriate, accidents do happen. If students cannot apply make-up in the classroom area, you must designate another place.
______ Week prior: Have students make signs for each school. Optional:
Have them make decorations for the classrooms.
______ Day prior: Take photos of each classroom prior to set-up. (This should help with clean-up).
______ Day prior: Move desks/tables/chairs to the perimeter of the room
______ Day prior: Place signs outside each classroom to identify which school is in which classroom. Hang any other decorations.
Adjudicator Room and Copier
______ Verify volunteers who will handle refreshments throughout the day. You should provide drinks, snacks, a continental breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Suggestion: For each meal, provide a menu from a local restaurant that does “To Go Meals.” Have a volunteer get the orders from the judges and supervisors first thing in the morning.
______ Verify that the copier(s) are working and that additional paper is nearby.
______ Day prior: Verify all supplies are in the room and organized for the supervisors.
______ Day prior: Verify the doors to the room lock and that you have access to a key.
______ Day prior: Set-up refreshments for first thing in the morning
Set Storage Space
______ Day prior: Hang signs in the location where each school should place their set
______ Day prior: Place a sign (or sandwich board) outside the set storage place so directors know where trucks should go to deliver sets.
______ Day prior: Set up tables for concessions
______ Hang signs and/or decorate (optional)
Space for Directors’ Meeting
______ Day prior: Set up tables and chairs in such a way to facilitate discussion
______ Day prior: Set up for continental breakfast (optional)
Certificate Printer/Calligrapher Workspace
______ Week prior: Set up an award template for each school and verify the printer can print onto the cardstock awards.
______ Day prior: Place the awards, seals and instructions for calligrapher in the space.
_______ Weeks prior: Make signs (with arrows on them) for the bathrooms, cafeteria, theater, etc….to help your guests find their way around your school. The more signs, the better.
_______ Day prior: Mark/reserve parking for supervisors and judges, if possible.
_______ Day prior: Hang signs all around the school to indicate how to find places, such as the bathrooms, cafeteria, auditorium/theater, etc...
_______ Day prior: Sandwich boards outside to help guests find you as well as where to drive to to drop of set. It helps to put balloons on the sandwich boards.
Pre-Festival Site Meeting Checklist (March)
The purpose of this meeting is to give information about your facility and festival to the schools that will be participating at your site, to gather technical information about their performances, and for you, as a host, to pick up supplies from the Guild for your site.
_____ Hand out prepared packet to each school at your site. The packet should include:
_____ Contact Information for Host Site Personnel
_____ A page of information on ticket price, snacks, and meals for the day. At the directors’ meeting, please give schools the following information about food: how you will handle lunch and dinner, what the price of the meals will be, whether schools need to order ahead of time or on that day, whether you will have a concession table.
_____ A sample program page and due date that you need it by for printing purposes. Directors should designate on their program page if there are any disturbing sound effects such as gunshots or sensitive issues such as death, suicide, etc. Directors should designate all adults on the program with an asterisk.
_____ Directions to your school, map, and loading/parking information
_____ Technical information about your stage, lighting, sound with diagrams (if available), dimensions, exits, curtain color, teasers, and lighting plan (if available)
_____ A floor plan of your school and auditorium/stage
_____ A festival day schedule that will be filled in as positions are drawn
_____ A technical rehearsal schedule that lists available times to be filled in at the meeting
_____ Draw for performance times. Have slips of numbers, 1-8, ready. As host, you may choose whatever position you prefer, so remove that number before the drawing.
_____ Encourage and remind directors to fill out the Online Director’s Information Form - this will get all the information YOU need from them to you promptly.
_____ Go over the technical information sheets in the packet and explain what is available at your site. Discuss potential technical problems with each school.
_____ Go over load-in and storage instructions for the set. Explain what you have available for set storage and the procedure you will be using. If schools will be holding sets on buses or trucks they need to know at this time to make arrangements so those vehicles will remain and not leave.
_____ Choose dates and times for technical rehearsals. Each school is entitled to a technical rehearsal of no more than one hour during the week leading up to Festival. Encourage everyone to do this as it prevents many hassles on festival day. These times should be convenient for you and your technical crew. You and your technical director should be present for each of these rehearsals to answer questions. If you have a high school or middle school crew person who will be assisting with lights and/or sound on festival day, they should also be present. It is advisable to double check with the visiting directors at the time as to any special technical needs such as fog machines, backstage microphones, etc…
_____ Discuss meal plans, Q & A, school rules, and other important information about festival
_____ Remind schools of items in packet that need to be turned in at their technical rehearsal. At their technical rehearsal, please collect these in a manilla envelope for each school.
_____ Other information to share with directors:
_____ Can makeup up be put on in the classroom or is there another place for this?
_____ Is food allowed in the classroom or in the cafeteria only?
_____ Cost of tickets - $10 for the day and that there is no special rate for children, seniors, etc. Tickets are not necessary for the awards ceremony.
_____ Parents should be reminded to be on time for performance, as the doors to the auditorium may NOT be opened once a performance has begun.
_____ Remind schools to clean the classroom at the end of the day. Please note time is built into the schedule for this cleaning to occur.
_____ Host director should pick up Guild supplies such as trophies, adjudicator/supervisor ribbons, etc. at Directors’ Meeting.
Pre-Festival To-Do List
_____ After the Directors’ Meeting in March, be sure to email all Directors with your contact information. This is a good time to remind them of any due dates.
_____ Verify that all volunteer positions are filled.
_____ Verify that all supplies are purchased and/or that someone is assigned to bring those supplies the day of Festival.
_____ You will receive the names of your adjudicators and supervisors from the Middle School Council President. A few weeks before the festival, you should provide them with and ask them the following information: directions to the school and parking information; phone numbers, e-mail, and address of host director and school; a schedule for the day including performing schools, plays and times; ask them about specific dietary restrictions/allergies. Get a biography from the adjudicators. This should be printed in your program and will also become part of your Emcee script.
_____ Prepare/edit your Emcee script using the template provided by the METG.
Post-Festival To-Do List
_____ Make sure the Council Member on site takes all of the extra Guild materials
_____ Fill out Financial Statement within 30 days. This form can be found on the METG website. Allowable expenses are listed on the form. If you have a question on whether a particular expense is allowable or not you may contact the Guild Administrative Assistant, Maryellen McGarty.
_____ Email any adjudication and/or festival day feedback to the Middle School Council within three days after Festival.
General Notes about Festival Day
Directors’ Meeting: The supervisor runs this meeting first thing in the morning. The following people should be present at this meeting: all directors, technical director/stage manager, checker, timers, and nurse. Ask your personnel to be on time for this meeting as there is much to be done and only 30 minutes to get the information in. Please make sure you have copies of the completed Timer Summary Sheet for everyone. It’s nice if you can provide some type of hospitality at this time such as coffee and muffins, however, this is not an allowable expense to be reimbursed for from the guild. This is a good time to remind your fellow directors that good decorum is expected by everyone throughout the day, particularly in the classrooms, in the auditorium between each show, and prior to the awards ceremony. At this point, Supervisors will remind the Adjudicators and Directors of the Middle School Spirit of Festival that needs to be present throughout the day. Please remind Directors that they will need to work with students to write out questions for each production for the Q & A session. Also, make sure that everyone understands how the Recognition awards work.
Question and Answer Session: Between the last show and the awards ceremony, performing schools will be cleaning their room and packing all sets, costumes, props, and personal effects onto their buses. They will also be writing their student recognition award and having dinner. However, although the adjudicators try to keep their deliberation and write-up time short, this time can greatly vary from year to year. Once this busy work is complete, your host site will hold a Q&A session for Directors and Students. The folders provided for each
school should include 15 index cards. These are for writing down questions that arise about shows seen. Questions should be appropriate and relevant. At the Q & A, which takes place in the auditorium, directors will be called to the front and a Guild member will facilitate the questions that have been turned in by all schools for each show that they have seen. At this time, directors can answer questions or choose to allow a cast/ crew member to speak about their show. This is a great way to spend the time waiting for the adjudicators in that it is informative and educational.
A few last reminders….
1. Be sure to contact your adjudicators and supervisors at least a week prior to your festival. If you do not have the names of your adjudicators and supervisors contact the M.S. Council President for the names.
2. Let the supervisor know first thing in the morning if any school is missing forms that you collected at their Tech Rehearsal. When you put those forms in the adjudicators’ room, put a note on the school’s packet if something is missing.
3. Remember the supervisor is in charge festival day. When questions arise relay them to the supervisor or call the supervisor in to make the decision. Do not decide for yourself. If a technical issue arises, your tech director may make a suggestion, but get it confirmed by the supervisor. If a school asks you for extra time or a change of any kind, bring in the supervisor. You may make a recommendation based on your school’s policy, but let the supervisor make the final decision. Be sure the runners for the adjudicators/supervisors know they are to remain outside the adjudicators’ room waiting. They are not to be someplace else, but there at all times. (You may have students swap off at times, but the supervisor needs to know what students will be there and when.)