Schools/students are expected to attend contests in their assigned region. Contest managers are under no obligation to make special arrangements for schools unable to attend; however, district/section chairs and the State Office may grant permission to attend a different region whose manager has availability. A school may opt-in to virtual participation, but should communicate that intention as a courtesy to their district/section chair(s).
Regional contest managers determine registration fees and adjudicator honoraria, as well as order of productions, based on reasonable requests made by directors in the registration process.
Script approval: The school’s administration must approve the script(s) for performance, such that it meets content appropriateness as that school deems fit. Schools are responsible for securing their own permissions and paying any royalties with the copyright holder of the work they wish to perform, as well as for any music they wish to play or perform. The director/advisor shall keep documentation of rights in the event they are contacted by a copyright holder for verification (see p. 21 for additional guidance).
Registration: A school may enter play(s) with at least two student performers:
Each entry may be a one-act or scene from one full-length play from any source.
A school may not use the same script two successive years in the contest.
The same script may be used by more than one school in any given contest.
Authors of original scripts may send manuscripts to the state office for counsel and advice.
Schools may not change the title of a production after the initial registration window closes.
The school’s Theatre contest advisor of record (see §1.3.1) shall register the play entry(ies) through the statewide, online initial registration process, certifying all participating students are eligible to participate in interscholastic activities/contests per school policies.
Only one one-act entry per school may be registered for performance at an in-person contest at any level – district, section, state – with any additional entries as prerecorded video files uploaded for scheduled streaming by adjudicators as:
Recording of a videoconference, no post-production editing (recordings may be paused for bandwidth issues or directors may piece together individual video segments);
Captured in-person video capture, single-take, no post-production editing.
Actors from schools with more than one entry only may participate in one cast; there is no limitation on students in technical/crew positions.
Any entry may be changed from in-person to virtual at any point during the season, provided:
No more than one entry is performing at an in-person contest at any level as defined in §1.4.
For a play moving from virtual to in-person, that the change is registered at least two weeks prior to the contest for which that change applies (moving from in-person to virtual may be done more suddenly, especially for exigent circumstances, such as a cast member getting ill).
Participating schools must honor reasonable deadlines set by contest managers. Contest managers should communicate logistics to participating schools at least two weeks prior to the contest.
Weaponry: Schools who wish to utilize weaponry on stage must:
Honor all host venue/institution regulations pertaining to presence of weaponry, whether real or facsimile.
When registering each entry: list all weapons to be used and certify the school’s principal has granted permission to use them all; describe safety and storage protocols; include name(s) of person(s) who have access; a photograph of each weapon; stage directions of how the firearm will be used on stage; timeframes – how far into the show AND for how long – any given weapon will be on stage, and when it will be visible.
Special policies for firearms:
No blanks can be used; all sounds must come from a recorded sound effect.
Any contest host venue may refuse a school from using both a prop firearm and/or sound effect of a firearm being discharged.
Theatrical firearms should never be pointed at the audience (can be traumatic and may result in unpredictable reactions), nor should be pointed at someone on stage. Instead, the theatrical firearm should be pointed past the individual into a corridor of safety.
Productions shall be staged in a proscenium configuration.
Performance time shall be no more than 40 minutes, plus a 30-second grace period, there is no minimum time requirement. Time will commence when the stage manager indicates “go.”
Scenery should be versatile enough to disassemble to fit through a standard door, if necessary. Use of fly systems/rigging is at the discretion of each host venue, and WISDAA contests are not obligated to provide this service to participating schools. Weaponry (see rule 4), open flames, animals, and other safety concerns must be approved at each level by the host venue’s technical director.
At the Sectional level, performances exceeding time limit and grace period will not be eligible to advance to the State Festival.
At the State level, performances exceeding time limit and grace period will not be eligible to receive an “Outstanding Directing” award, nor the “Critic’s Choice” award.
Contest levels and advancement: The progressive contest levels are District, Sectional and State. The state office will share registration data as schools advance through the series. Adjudicators will rate each entry on 12 to 14 evaluation criteria (directors may opt-in to have lighting and/or sound evaluated), using a score of 1-3 points for each criterion. Scores will be averaged by the tabulation software (SpeechWire).
District: average scores of 1.5 or better by at least two of three adjudicators shall advance an entry to the Sectional level.
Sectional: average scores of 2.3 or better by at least two of three adjudicators shall advance an entry to the State level.
State: four adjudicators will be paneled for each entry, one of whom will observe the production holistically and select rating scores and nominees for acting awards, but will not write comments. See §8 pertaining to awards.
Announcements. Schools are urged to stay for the entire contest; theatre is best with an audience.
At the District and Sectional contests, results shall be announced no more than twice a day, to allow adjudicators to change “stop” recommendations to “advance.” Contest coordinators are allowed to release results to individual schools who need to leave early.
At the State Festival, results will be announced to schools following their oral response, as well as posted periodically.
To receive awards, participants must attend an official WISDAA contest, in person or virtually.
Certificates are awarded to schools at the district contest who advance to sectional, and to schools at sectional who advance to State. Individual medal pins may be purchased for each member of cast/crew for productions participating at the sectional level.
The following awards shall be given at the State level, with those based on scores including lighting and sound in averaging, if opted-in by the director:
Outstanding Acting (small plaque): upon nomination from at least two adjudicators.
School awards: entries earning an average score of at least 2.67 from at least two adjudicators for all criteria in each of the respectively same-named evaluation areas, earn those awards (medium plaques):
Overarching school award: an entry earning an overall average score of 2.67 or better from at least two adjudicators shall earn the Critic’s Choice (largest plaque and gold medals for each student participant); those below 2.67 shall earn the All State award (large plaque and silver medals for each student participant).
Directors may order participation certificates from the State Office (or at the State Festival) for any student who participates in a WISDAA District, Sectional or State Festival.
Disqualifications: A play cast shall be allowed to finish the presentation and a disqualification shall not be announced until the adjudicator has consulted with the contest director and/or Referee Committee, who shall consult the production’s director.
Concerns/Protests: The district/section chair shall handle any concerns with adjudicators or potential rules violations; appeals must be made to the State Office within five calendar days of the event. Any director may register a concern regarding evaluation(s) by completing an online form identifying concerns, with a copy of evaluation sheet(s), within five calendar days of the event. The State Office will investigate and communicate to the complainant within a week.
Harassment & Discrimination: The Wisconsin Interscholastic Speech & Dramatic Arts Association is committed to fostering safe and supportive learning environments for all student participants and adults at our interscholastic events. This requires mutual respect on the part of all people present. Accordingly, WISDAA prohibits all forms of harassment and discrimination by and to any person, whether written or oral, based on race, color, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by any applicable federal, state, or local law. Individuals found to have violated this policy will be subject to a full range of sanctions, up to and including removal from the festival premises.