Promoting Your Festival Show

We are less than a week away from Prelims, folks!  Hopefully you have already been talking up your show and creating a buzz in your town and school district.  If not, it’s time to get cracking!  Here are some tips from seasoned METG directors on how to best promote your show.  You can also download the full info sheet at the bottom of this post.

Wondering how to publicize your festival show? 

For Festival Day…

  • Create a press release to send to local newspapers.  Use the blurb about METG that we have attached to describe the program. (You can find this in the downloadable pdf below.)
  • Plan a benefit performance of your festival piece on Friday night before festival.  You can sell tickets to raise money and give the audience a chance to participate in a talkback with the company.  It will build excitement and support for the students and the production!
  • Reach out to middle school students in your district and ask them to help on festival day.  They can help by working the house or selling snacks with your parent volunteers.

 

First and foremost, make your voice heard.  Make everyone in your school and district aware of your program and your festival piece, and facilitate as much participation as possible.  Advocate for the importance of theater in students’ learning experiences, whether they are participants or audience members.  Insist on respect for what you and your students work do hard to do!

Download the entire info sheet here:  METG – PR tip sheet

2015 DramaFest is HERE!

Are you ready for some great plays?  Are you ready to meet a lot of new people?  Are you ready for lots of fun and excitement?  Well join us on Saturday February 28th at one of our 14 preliminary sites near you.  To see the schedule, CLICK HEREtee shirt 2015 metglogo

Striving for Objective Adjudication at Festival

Last year, we sent a survey to all of our members to find out more about your experiences with METG.  One of the questions that many people brought up was why we got rid of “Blind Judging.”  This was something we tried a few years ago in an effort to make festival judging more objective.  We tried to eliminate any school names from posters, programs, and auditoriums, and to prevent the judges from having any contact with directors at festival.

There were many problems with this system.  Many judges and directors know each other, and they felt unnecessarily isolated from each other.  Judges knew directors’ names, so they were able to identify schools by those names even when the school names were not on the program page.  The school names were also posted on the website. Parents, teachers, administrators, and students felt like they were missing out on having the pride and recognition of their school name attached to a production on festival day.

So, we were torn.  Objective adjudication is essential to our festival, but these measures were extreme and ineffective.  Most importantly, we select and train our judges very carefully, and we trust their integrity implicitly.  We spent a great deal of time discussing this issue at our festival review meeting over the summer, and we came to what we think is the best possible solution.  For this year’s festival, we have put in place two new policies to help ensure objective adjudication: the new Company Breakdown Sheet, and a standardized procedure for announcing plays on festival day.  We hope that these measures will help judges remain objective because they will not hear the school’s name immediately before seeing a play, and won’t be looking at it when they are using the program page to write their comments after the play.  These policies also preserve the school’s attachment to the play for everyone else in the audience.  Not to mention (BONUS!), they streamline some paperwork and will hopefully prevent any false starts.

Take a look at the following information sheets for all the details about the Company Breakdown Sheet and the new procedures for announcing plays.

METG Info Sheet – CBS

METG Info Sheet – Emcees

METG Info Sheet – HM & SM instructions

 

Tech Rehearsals

Hello again!  We’re back on this snowy day to share some information with you about tech rehearsals.  Visiting your host school during the week before festival for your tech rehearsal is always exciting, and gets you in the mood for festival like nothing else!  However, tech rehearsals are not to be taken lightly.  It’s your opportunity to get to know the space, and for tech crews it is an absolutely essential part of the process.  For hosts, it’s a great chance to show off your hospitality and make your visitors feel welcome.

This year, the guild has instituted some changes in tech rehearsals.  In recent years, student-designed sets, lights, sound, and other elements have become more and more complex.  We love this, because it means that student technicians and designers are developing their craft!  It also means that more time and expertise is required to implement these elements when you’re entering a new space.  With all of that in mind, we created a tiered system of tech rehearsal times that we hope will be more in line with the needs of our student designers and technicians.  Read all about it below.

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Festival Tech Rehearsals

Tech rehearsals are a very important part of METG’s high school festival.  They provide an opportunity for the company from each performing school to visit their host site in order to learn about and practice in the space.  Many crucial things need to get done in these rehearsals, including loading sets, programming lights, understanding the host venue’s technical systems, and much more.  This year, the Executive Council has instituted some rule changes in the interest of providing adequate time and making sure that these rehearsals are productive for all.

 

Important things to know about Tech Rehearsals:

 

  • NEW THIS YEAR:  Tech rehearsals for the Preliminary Level of Festival will be 90 minutes long.  Semifinal Level tech rehearsals will be 75 minutes, and Finals tech rehearsals will be 50 minutes.  The Executive Council decided on this change to provide more time for schools in earlier rounds, and less time in later rounds when the company has already practiced quite a bit.

 

  • NEW THIS YEAR:  Because we have increased the time for tech rehearsals, a new rule this year is that these time limits must be adhered to strictly. Some hosts give extra time and some cannot, so this rule was created in the interest of maintaining equity across host sites.

 

  • Your tech rehearsal time begins when your set has been unloaded into the space.  Your host should provide you with 30, 15, and 5 minute warnings until your end time if you would like them.  The only exception to this is at finals, when your 50 minutes starts when you begin unloading from your truck, and your set must be back on the truck by the end of your 50 minutes.

 

  • An adult advisor from the host school must be present in the theater for the entirety of every tech rehearsal.

 

  • The host school must provide either an adult or student who knows how to run their board at tech rehearsals to teach the visiting school.  This person needs to be available to the visiting school’s crew for the entirety of the rehearsal.

 

Above all, be respectful hosts and visitors!

 

Download this info sheet here: METG Info Sheet – Tech Rehearsals

Festival Supervisors

To most of you, the Supervisors at festival are probably mysterious creatures that you only see at the directors’ meeting in the morning and at the awards ceremony at the end of the day.  But Supervisors are the ones who make sure your festival day runs like clockwork.  They manage the day, and make sure the rules and regulations of the METG are upheld consistently.  Festival wouldn’t happen without them!  Since most people don’t know much about what the Supervisors do, here’s some details about them:

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The Role of the Supervisor at Festival

 

Supervisors are a very important part of METG’s high school festival.  They work in the judge’s room at each round of Festival, ensuring the day moves along in a timely manner while making sure the judging guidelines are being followed.  Many crucial things need to happen in the judge’s room throughout the Festival day to be able to start the Awards Ceremony on time, including proofreading and printing critiques, organizing the judges’ All Star Cast nominees, keeping track of the judges’ rankings of shows, facilitating discussions between judges to reach a decision on winners and All Star Cast awards, organizing the Awards Ceremony, and much more.  Here is a quick list of what the Supervisor does/does not do on the day of Festival.

 

Important things to know about Supervisors:

 

Supervisors DO:

-       Act as the voice of the Executive Council on the Festival day, ensuring that all Guild rules and judging guidelines are followed.

-       Proofread judge critiques for typos and sometimes offer suggestions for rewrites if a judge is too negative or does not back up their comments with concrete examples.

-       Facilitate all discussions between the judges to ensure each judge’s opinions are being heard.

-       Have the power to disqualify schools for three reasons: 1. A play exceeds the 40 minute time limit. 2. A school continues to exhibit poor Theatre Etiquette after receiving a warning. 3. A student from a participating school is found in possession or under the influence of drugs/alcohol.

-       Run the Awards Ceremony.

Supervisors DO NOT:

-       Make any decisions as to which schools advance to the next round.

-       Make any decisions as to who receives All Star Cast awards.

-       Write critiques.

-       Disqualify schools for exceeding the 5 minute set up/strike rule.

-       Offer opinions to the judges about what plays they like/do not like.
Above all, remember, Supervisors have NO input into the Judge’s decisions! They are responsible for facilitating the day to ensure that every site is following the same Guild rules and Judging Guidelines.

 

Click here to download this info sheet: METG Info Sheet – Role of the Supervisor

Approval of Festival Plays

For the second installment of our Festival Information series, we want to let you know about how we “approve” plays that are performed at festival.  We’re not in the business of censoring plays, but we do urge schools to carefully consider the plays they choose.  More importantly, we require that schools provide disclaimers when the content of their shows may be objectionable to some.  Everyone entering a theater brings different life experiences to a viewing of a production, and we want to make sure that every audience member can make an informed decision for him/herself about whether to watch a play.  Our official policy is here:

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Content of Plays/Approval Process

 

 The choice of plays submitted for performance in the annual high school drama festival each March is controlled by the METG in only the following four ways:

 

  1. The choice must be a “straight” play—that is, while it may incorporate elements of music within it, it may not be listed in the publisher’s catalogue as a musical.
  2. It must be either a one-act play or a cutting from a longer work, but it may run no longer than 40 minutes.  If it is to be a cutting, written proof of permission to cut the work, given by the publisher, must also be submitted.
  3. For all royalty plays, proof of royalty payment must be submitted.  Plays in the public domain, such as Shakespeare or pre-1700 works, are exempt from royalty payment.  For unpublished plays or adaptations of other works, a written consent to perform by the author must be submitted.
  4. The principal of the school must give his or her consent to perform the specific work by signing the school’s festival entry form.

 

Beyond this legal stewardship, the METG does not engage in censoring the subject matter of the plays performed.  However, it does urge directors to be mindful both of the educational purposes of the festival, and of the nature of its audiences—students and their family members, both of whom may be unfamiliar with certain plays’ contents.  Therefore, directors should print a disclaimer in the program concerning material which might be offensive to an audience member.  Examples of this might be strong language, violence, death (including suicide) or physical, sexual or emotional abuse depicted onstage.  Even a warning of a gunshot in the course of a play, or extended use of strobe lighting (which may disorient those with seizure disorders or implanted pacemakers) is a good idea.  In this day and age, we advise erring on the side of caution concerning the psychological comfort of the audience, and using the disclaimer to allow audience members to make informed viewing choices.

Download this info sheet here

Festival is coming!

Happy 2015, everyone!  It’s our favorite time of year… the snow is falling, the wind is freezing, and we’re all inside the theater getting ready for festival.  Only 2 short months and we’re there!  In the weeks leading up to festival this year, we are going to share some tidbits of information with you.  Once a week, we’ll post about an important aspect of festival.  We hope to educate all of you on the “behind the scenes” work that we do on the executive council.  First up:  How do we place schools at preliminary sites?  Read on to find out.

 

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HOW DOES PLACEMENT AT PRELIMS WORK?

 

The METG strives to make the preliminary sites as balanced as possible. Since no one sees every participating school’s production, and art is subjective, the only way objective balance can be achieved is to follow criteria based on numbers:

 

  1. There are 14 finalists from the previous year, and each preliminary site has no more than ONE of them. Provided they all enter the Festival, these numbers work perfectly to achieve balance.

 

  1. There are up to 28 of the previous year’s semi-finalists remaining, and each preliminary site has no more than TWO of them. Again, it’s only perfect balance if they all enter.

 

  1. Each preliminary site will have at least ONE member of the METG High School Executive Council. The Council meets early the next morning and reports about every site. Some council members are already assigned to sites because they’re hosts, finalists, or semi-finalists. The others are placed by need.

 

  1. No duplicate titles are at the same site at prelims. There are enough sites at prelims to keep them separated, making it fair for those schools.

 

  1. Many schools enter original plays. They are balanced among the sites as best as possible based on how many there are.

 

  1. Every year, new schools enter the Festival. They’re separated as best as possible—not so much for balance reasons, but to assist hosts since newer schools often have many more questions than schools who regularly enter.

 

  1. Distance. It would be great if all entering schools could go to a site no more than a few towns over. More friends and families would be able to come see shows, and everyone would get home earlier that night. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible based on where the host sites are and the goal to keep sites balance, but it is always kept in consideration.

 

  1. Much more often than not, schools don’t travel to the same host site they went to the previous year. Festival is an educational experience, and seeing different sites with different schools opens students’ and directors’ eyes to different theatrical styles, genres, tech, and people.

 

It’s like a complex logic puzzle, and it’s rarely perfect, but the criteria are followed to create sites that are balanced. But no matter what, the day should be educational and enjoyable for you and your students!

Download this Info Sheet

 

2015 High School Logo Design Winners

 

We had over 35 logo design entries this year!

Thanks to all who participated.  For results, CLICK HERE

Scholarship/Contest Winners Announced!

Thanks to all who made the day of auditions and presentations at St. John’s Prep a rousing success. We had more students take part in our activities than ever before and it was obvious that the amount of acting and design talent in our students promises an exciting 2012 Festival. Winners will be contacted by the contest/audition coordinators concerning their awards. Congratulations to all!

For a list of all winners CLICK HERE!

Scholarship Audition/Contest Schedules

All the details for the Scholarship Auditions and METG Contests are listed on the website for this weekend’s event at St. John’s Prep in Danvers.  To find information pertinent to your event, CLICK HERE