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Secondary School Shakespeare Festival
Festival FAQs

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Secondary School Festival FAQs

Thank you for your interest in the Secondary School Festival! To ensure the safety and enjoyment of all, our participants are required to adhere to the following rules. After many, many years of experience, we find they create a successful festival experience for everyone!

The most important thing by far: Have a great time preparing for and participating in the Festival!

Whats New in 2015?

Due to space constraints at the Folger:

  • There will be 7 Festival days, and 6 schools will perform each day.

  • The day will begin at 8:00am and end at 1:30pm. There will be no lunch break, and no time or place to eat during the day.

Do my students have to perform an entire play? Can we cut or combine scenes?
Each group performs one or more scenes from any of Shakespeare’s works. Cuts are permitted; modern language adaptations are not. Double check any script you plan to use. The words should be Shakespeare’s own. Short—we mean short—modern English “bridges” are permitted between scenes or as introductions. At least 90 percent of your presentation must consist of Shakespeare’s language.

Who should edit our play selection?
Students are encouraged to edit their own selections for performance, direct their peers, and take on other responsibilities.

How long should our performance be?
Performances must be at least 15 and no more than 25 minutes long. Really. Arriving late or taking more than your share of time means that the whole day gets pushed back—and parents miss performances and participants don't get their fair share of time.

Should we have a stage manager or a company manager?
Yes, each group must include a student stage manager and /or company manager.

Can we use music?
Music may accompany performances. Recorded music or sound effects should be played on a portable, battery-powered player brought by your stage manager for this purpose. Live music must be performed by student cast members. Nothing may be plugged into an electrical outlet.

Can we use furniture?
The Folger will provide basic furniture—a table, chairs, benches—which you can view at the walk-through.

Can we bring props?
Each group may bring props in a roadbox labeled with your school’s name. The roadbox should be no larger than 3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet. Things get lost, crushed, stepped on; people get upset and frustrated. Please do not bring valuables, either for stage or personal use. And remember: if it doesn’t fit into your roadbox, don’t bring it! Anything that does not fit may be subject to removal.

What props are not allowed?
Forbidden props include liquid, glass or other breakables, food (even if not consumed), fire, stage blood, non-stage weapons, guns of any kind, dry ice, fog machines, confetti, dancing elephants.

Is there time and place to change into costume?
No. Arrive already in your costumes and make-up. Please keep costumes and make-up simple. No one will have the chance to change during the Festival day.

Will there be lighting?
Basic stage lighting will be the same for all performances.

What is a Festival broadside?
For Festival purposes, a broadside is a single sheet of 8.5 x 11in sheet of paper printed on one side. On it is printed your group information, ie: school name, production title, list of players, crew, and a synopsis. We encourage teachers to have student involvement in the creation of your broadside. So that all students in the audience will have important context for each performance, schools should also include a short synopsis of their play on their broadside program.

Who can come to the Festival?
Please limit cast and crew combined to no more than 25 students. The Folger Elizabethan Theatre is small. Each student group must be accompanied by the directing teacher and between one and three other adults. Adults will be seated with the students.

Can we bring students who may not be performing or helping out backstage?
We may be able to seat “groundlings”—additional students from your school who want to watch the Festival but not participate—but we won’t know if we have space for them until after all participating schools have given us a head count. Groundlings must have their own adult chaperones.

Must we visit the theater before we come to the festival?
Yes. The responsible teacher and any student directors, stage managers, or cast members must attend an orientation session and walk-through on one of two possible dates. It is essential that you see the playing space for safety and blocking purposes. Previous Festival experience or a private look at the theater does not fulfill this requirement. Please arrive on time for the walk-through. Dates and times are January 31th at 10am or February 3rd at 4pm.

Is there a registration fee?
Yes. Each participating school is required to pay a registration fee of $100 (checks made payable to the Folger Shakespeare Library).We'll be happy to accept your fee payment during the Festival walkthrough.

Will the set take place on a current Folger Theatre production?
Yes, the 2015 Festival will take place on the set of Folger Theatre's Mary Stuart. Dimensions, accessibility to the stage, and traffic patterns will be available to accepted participants.

What is the schedule like during the Festival?
This year, each Festival day begins at 8am and concludes at about 1:30pm. There will be no break for lunch. You must eat afterwards. All Festival participants—including teachers and adult chaperones—are expected to stay the entire day at the Folger and to be a spirited audience for all performances. For this one day, students should make other arrangements concerning jobs, rehearsals, sports practices, etc., in order to remain for the entire Festival.

Can we take pictures? Video?
Yes. You can absolutely take pictures. Please do not use a flash in the theater as it is a safety risk. You are also welcome to videotape your performance, provided that your camera is battery powered. If you wish to use a tripod, you must set up in the balcony right before the particular performance. Please do not block the view of other spectators.

Can my students' friends and family see our performance?
Yes. We encourage you to invite parents, friends, and other admirers to the Festival! Parents and other fans may come and go in the balcony. Please communicate to parents that we often run ahead of schedule. We advise your fans to arrive 15 to 30 minutes early.

Where should they park?
Street parking is available (please read signs carefully!) and the Folger is also accessible by Metro on the Red, Blue, and Orange lines at Union Station and Capitol South.

How long will we be at the Folger?
Every student from every school will stay for the entire Festival day, from 8am to approximately 1:30pm. Arrive on time. If you are outside the Beltway and travel is a problem, call us and we’ll help you figure out how to get here on time. If someone from your cast has a problem with staying all day, let us know that too.

What does it mean to be a good audience member at the Festival?
Being a good audience member is an important part of the Festival. Audience members are expected to extend to other performers the same courtesies and attention they would appreciate while on stage. This requirement includes being in the theater for all performances, and being a great, attentive audience for other students onstage.

What is a commentator?
Commentators will give constructive and encouraging feedback after each performance. There will be two professional commentators on each Festival day whose job it is to praise good work wherever they see it and offer encouraging and constructive feedback to every school.

Is the Festival a competition?
No. Both the commentators and the Library want to see people having fun, people learning about themselves and Shakespeare—not people in cutthroat rivalry. Each school will go home with several awards—but no one person or group ever “wins” the Festival. We are each other’s fans, not rivals.

Please contact Manager, School Programs Danielle Drakes at ddrakes@folger.edu or call (202) 675-0365

Secondary School Shakespeare Festival

How To

Planning Guide: A Festival Timeline

How-To: Selecting and Cutting Scenes

Learn More

About the Festival

Participation Guidelines


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