Table of Contents

For a summary of the rules & regulations outlined on this page, see this PDF.





Raison D'etre

Rules are necessary to facilitate participation in any festival. They should promote the efficient running of a festival, stimulate quality in the productions and not hinder the creativity and growth of the participants. Moreover, rules must reflect the festival's philosophy. For these reasons, they must be as clear, precise and few as possible.


The Festival is, above all, a learning experience for all participants - students, teachers, adjudicators and audience. It provides for the development of talents, the promotion of creativity and the recognition of excellence. Thus the Festival offers a vehicle for the sharing of artistic expression and experiences in both a positive and critical ambiance. Through its spirit of friendly competition and helpful adjudication the Sears Ontario Drama Festival is a celebration serving to advance quality drama and theatre in Ontario schools.



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  • A1. In order to encourage maximum participation, a school may enter as many productions as it wishes. At the District level, the Local Committee may decide to limit entries to one (1) per school; however, should multiple entries be allowed, each entry MUST have a different director and significantly a different cast and crew. Only one production from a school may move on to the Regional level.
  • A2 - All students involved in a school production must be registered as students at the school for at least one semester of the school year in which the production is entered in the festival.
  • A3 - The entry fee which will be set by the district coordinating committee must be paid for each production entered.
  • A4 - Each school production MUST have an advisor officially recognized by its school's administration.
  • A5 - A competing production is required to participate in its district festival.
  • A6 - Teachers and students are responsible for the good behaviour of the members of their company according to the guidelines established by host schools and boards of education. Disturbances during rehearsals and performances will not be tolerated.
  • A7 - A correct and complete list of cast and crew is required for the programme. This MUST also include all acknowledgements relating to script, performance rights and adult assistance. Indicate the difference between students and adults by Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms.
  • A8 - Each entry MUST consist of two or more performers engaged in interaction.
  • A9 - Professional help is welcome as long as a fee is not paid and acknowledgement is made in the program.


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  • B1 - The minimum time allowed for each production entered at any level of the festival (district, regional, provincial is fifteen (15) minutes.
  • B2 - The maximum time allowed for each production entered at any level of the festival (district, regional, provincial) is fifty (50) minutes.
  • B3 - On performance night, each production is allowed a ten minute set-up and a five minute strike. The set-up and strike must be executed safely.
  • B4 - Each production shall receive two hours of scheduled rehearsal time.
    NOTE: The festival stage manager is responsible for the official timing of all productions. Timing will begin with the first cue given by the production's stage manager and will end with his/her last cue. The curtain call is not counted as part of the time allowance.


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  • C1 - Performing rights, royalty payments, and/or letters of permission relating to each production are the responsibility of the producing school. A statement that such payments have been made and permission granted will be required by the festival coordinator in advance.
  • C2 - Neither Sears Canada, Inc. nor the Sears Ontario Drama Festival will accept legal responsibility for any violation of copyright by a school participating in the festival.


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  • D1 - All sets are the responsibility of the producing school.
  • D2 - Arrangements for pre-building and touch-ups for set preparation ahead of scheduled rehearsal time will be made with the festival's stage manager.
  • D3 - Technical specifications for all Regional and Provincial venues for the coming season's festival will be made available at the general fall meeting each year.


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  • E1.1 - The facilities available at each level of the Festival will vary considerably, and each production will be expected to share EQUALLY with other productions.
  • E1.2 - General stage lighting will be set for all productions.
  • E1.3 - It is the responsibility of each festival coordinator to inform all participants of the lighting available at each individual venue.
  • E1.4 - Each production will be allowed a maximum of three (3) specials. Any single instrument added to or any alterations to the existing wash/system will be considered to be a special. Any extraneous pieces not patched in must be set up during the ten (10) minute set-up time. Any special used which was already set by another show will count as one of a production's allocation of three. All of the above is subject to the limitations of the venue. For example, a particular venue may have only enough instruments to allow for two specials per show. A follow spot that does not go through the lighting control board does not count as a special.

  • E2 - SOUND
  • E2.1 - The Host School should supply the following working equipment: 2 microphones, stands and cable; speakers; a tape deck; a mixer; a CD player; and an amplifier. Host schools must apprise participating schools of their available equipment well in advance and participating schools MUST make known at least a week before tech rehearsal any requirements they have. (N. B. Forms will be created for this purpose.)
  • E2.2 - All levels, cues and sound operation are the responsibility of the producing company.
  • E2.3 - All channels on festival sound boards available to one school must be available to other schools in any festival.
  • E2.4 - Additional sound equipment used by schools in special circumstances must be set up during the technical rehearsal and MUST NOT interfere with other productions in the festival. Theatre crews will have the final say as to placement of additional equipment.
  • E2.5 - Sound Mixers and control should be in the front of house if possible.
  • E2.6.1 - The Host Crew should set limits (levels, E.Q., etc.) that MUST not to be exceeded by the participants.
  • E2.6.2 - The E.Q. (equalization) of the theatre space is to be determined by the Host School staff.
  • E2.7 - Warning must be given in programs of any sound (live or recorded) which may prove hazardous to health or well-being.
  • E2.8 - Levels of music, sound effects, explosions, gunshots, etc. should be carefully tested and set at technical rehearsals and checked prior to each performance.
  • E2.9 - All companies are to be allowed to make a sound check of their equipment during set-up time or at another time (designated by the hosting crew) shortly before their show begins.
  • E2.10 - Microphones may not be used to amplify speech for individual productions. They may be used for special effects only (as a prop for a radio announcer, for a musical number, backstage voice-over, etc.).
  • E2.11 - All permissions for copyrighted material MUST be obtained by the presenting company, and acknowledgment of such permission MUST appear in the program.
  • E2.12 - All live musicians MUST be eligible participants (see section A) if they appear on stage. Musicians (even in the "pit") must NOT be paid performers. Volunteers are always welcomed but must be indicated as required in section A.
  • E2.13 - Pre-show ambient or mood music or sound may be used only if it is followed by a definite "first cue" for the purpose of timing.
  • E2.14 - Malfunction or damage caused by participating schools to the sound equipment are the responsibility of that school.


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  • F1 - Failure to comply with any of the above rules results in disqualification and non-eligibility for all awards, group and/or individual except as follows:
  • F1.1 - If a play infracts time limits as set out in Section B, it may not receive an Outstanding Production Award, but may receive other awards, including other technical awards.
  • F2 - Problems arising from external and extraordinary circumstances may be taken into consideration by the adjudicator and the festival stage manager in collaboration with the festival coordinator.
  • F3 - Such decisions and any other decisions handed down by a district or regional coordinator must be submitted in writing to the regional representative who must then notify the Executive Director.



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  • G1 - Each production will receive a brief public adjudication and a private adjudication.
  • G2 - Adjudication will be based on the general excellence of presentation.
  • G3 - Decisions of adjudicators are final.
  • G4 - All Coordinators should abide by the guidelines set out in the "Criteria for Adjudication" and must make adjudicators aware of same and send participants a copy of the Criteria.


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  • H1 - Each participating school is responsible for sending a copy of its script or scenario to the adjudicator in advance, complete with name of school, location, name and telephone number of staff advisor and dates of performance.
  • H2 - Choice of material (content and language) is the sole responsibility of the participating school's administration.
  • H3 - Latecomers will not be seated in the auditorium during a performance.
  • H4 - As the festival exists to provide a full learning experience, all school groups are expected to participate in the full programme of activities provided at each festival.
  • H5 - Distribution of profits at the district and regional levels shall be decided by a committee made up of one representative from each participating production.
  • H6 - Should the Festival Coordinator be involved in a production entered in the Festival, an independent arbitrator should be selected BEFORE the beginning of the Festival to rule on infractions of the Rules and Regulations. If the matter cannot be settled locally, it should be referred to the Executive Director.
  • H7 - The Festival Stage Manager who oversees the technical rehearsal should also be the Festival Stage Manager for the performance.
  • H8 - Programs should contain warnings concerning such things as smoking, strobe lights, gun shots, explosions, strong language, mature content, etc.


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  • See the Awards Matrix to determine the number and type of awards allowed by your festival size.
  • I1 - Only students involved in a participating production are eligible.
  • I2 - Non-competitive entries are not eligible for awards, group or individual.
  • I3 - Awards will be given as follows:

    • I3A - District Festival:
    • I3A1 - Awards for Outstanding Production (depending on the size of the district)
    • I3A2 - Awards of Excellence (determined by number of entries. Formula below)
    • I3A3 - One Stage Management Award
    • I3A4 - Awards of Merit: The adjudicator may also select other deserving students to receive Awards of Merit for acting or other theatrical achievements.
    • 13A5 - Other Locally-approved Awards

    • I3B - Regional Festival:
    • I3B1 - Two Outstanding Production Awards
    • I3B2 - Six/Eight Awards of Excellence
    • I3B3 - One award for Outstanding Stage Management
    • I3B4 - Awards of Merit.
    • 13B5 - Other Regionally-approved Awards.

    • I3C - Ontario Showcase:
    • 13C1 - Six Mira Awards (Mira's) selected by the Adjudicator for Individual Exceptional Achievement.
    • 13C2 - Twelve awards for Outstanding Achievement (one is to be awarded for outstanding stage management).
    • 13C3 - Various other Proviincial Awards, Busaries and Scholarships.


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  • It is vital that adjudicators understand and model the philosophy of the Sears Ontario Drama Festival. If the adjudication is to reflect this philosophy, adjudicators should possess as many of the following qualities as possible.

  • J1 - Knowledge: Adjudicators should understand...
    • the needs of adolescents;
    • the philosophy and nature of the Festival;
    • the history and elements of drama and theatre;
    • the elements of drama-in-education and theatre-in-education;
    • the following concepts: author and dramatic intent, production techniques to address dramatic intent, production integrity in terms of dramatic intent the written and spoken language of a production.

  • J2 - Skills: Adjudicators should be able to...
    • communicate (read, write, speak, listen) to a general audience at a public adjudication, to adolescents and their adult advisors at a private adjudication, and in the language of a production;
    • encourage participants to explore (look at things in different ways), stretch (intellectually, emotionally, physically), grow and develop;
    • deal with the needs of groups and individuals positively, respectfully and constructively;
    • provide unbiased, constructive criticism.

  • J3 - Values, Beliefs, Attitudes, Behaviours: Adjudicators should...
    • value learning, growth and development; believe in the Festival and its philosophy;
    • believe in adolescents and their potential;
    • reflect integrity, tolerance, open- mindedness, sensitivity and understanding, honesty, flexibility;
    • value creativity, risk-taking, equability, questioning, exploring, reflecting, and excellence.


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  • K1 - Adjudicators will prepare for adjudication the written texts provided. Adjudicators have the right to refuse to adjudicate productions for which no written texts have been received.
  • K2 - In a team adjudication situation, all adjudicators will attend all productions.
  • K3 - Adjudicators will make available face-to-face private adjudications for all casts and crews.
  • K4 - Adjudicators will confine awards to those listed in the rules for each level of the Festival, except where a District has additional local awards.
  • K5 - Normally adjudicators will award all awards available. Should adjudicators feel the calibre of the productions does not warrant this, adjudicators will consult with the coordinator before such a decision is announced. Adiudicators will provide rationale.
  • K6 - Adjudicators will not distinguish between or among Outstanding productions.
  • K7 - Festival S. M.'s will, for information, confer with adjudicators re Stage Management Awards. Conversely, adjudicators will consult with the Festival S. M. 's re the selection of recipients of any awards for technical excellence in order to confirm eligibility.


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    • L1.1 - Selecting Adjudicators Coordinators should refer to the Adjudicators' Lists provided by the Festival in selecting candidates. Before selecting adjudicators, coordinators should discuss the following with candidates and reach clear understanding regarding:
      • The philosophy of the Festival
      • The general criteria for adjudicators
      • The time and venue of the Festival
      • Adjudicators' fees (a minimum of $45 per production, plus expenses transportation, accommodation, food)
      • Needs unique to this particular district Festival.

    • L1.2 - Working with Adjudicators
      • After selecting adjudicators coordinators should...
      • - Confirm all details in writing.
      • - Request background and biographical information.
      • - Ensure adjudicators receive written working texts for all productions at least three weeks before the Festival.
      • - Provide adjudicators with copies of the Festival rules and guidelines, and lists of the awards.


    • L2.1 - Coordinators should ensure the following have been set up...
      • - A private room for adjudicators to use.
      • - (Student) aides (Not associated with any production) to accompany adjudicators, to ensure adjudicators are in the house before each productions begins, to provide for the comfort of adjudicators, to answer any questions/concerns adjudicators may have, to be communication links between the FOH and SM staff.
      • - Previously agreed-upon area(s) in the house for adjudicators to sit. This may include a small desk, a shielded light source (connected to the stage blackout circuit, and empty seats in front, behind and beside the adjudicator.
      • - A lectern (and microphone if needed/requested) for public adjudication.
      • - Space for private adjudication.

    • L2.2 - Adjudications
      • L2 .2.1 - The public adjudication should...
      • - Last from 5 to 10 minutes per production.
      • - Deal mainly with the fulfillment of the dramatic intent of the production.
      • - Cite specific details whenever possible given the factor of time.
      • L2 .2.2 - The Private adjudication (after the public) should...
      • - Be 30 to 60 minutes per production.
      • - Elaborate on the public comments re. dramatic intent, and focus on each participant's role in the fulfillment of the dramatic intent.
      • - Provide constructive feedback to student writers, where appropriate.
      • L2 .2.3 - Adjudicators may wish to:
      • - Provide written notes to the directors.
      • - Provide workshops (time permitting), particularly to encourage exploring and stretching. This should be negotiated before the Festival.

    • L2.3 - Adjudicators can expect coordinators to:
      • - Interpret the rules if asked.
      • - Provide information pertinent to productions as appropriate.
      • - Support adjudicators in their decisions.

    • L2.4 - Presenting the District Awards, Adjudicators should announce each award and include:
      • - A general rationale for each award.
      • - A brief description of the criteria and indicators of a production which lead to the award.

  • L3 - After the District Festival Coordinators should ensure that:
    • - Adjudicators are thanked and paid.
    • - The working texts are returned to the directors.

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