Main stage

Main stage

ITF Main Stage

The following 11 shows have been invited to the ITF Main Stage:

Bring It On by Jeff Witty, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Amanda Green
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Shakespeare in Love by Lee Hall
Be More Chill by Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz
26 Pebbles by Eric Ulloa
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Noises Off by Michael Frayn
Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice, Wayne Barker
Bright Star: School Edition by Steve Martin, Edie Brickell
Xanadu by Douglas Carter Beane, Jeff Lynne, John Farrar
She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen

Thank you to all the shows who were adjudicated:

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs by William Inge
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
Almost, Maine by John Cariani
Hands on a Hardbody by Doug Wright, Amanda Green, Trey Anastasio
Dog Eat Dog by Mary Gallagher
Disney’s Newsies by Alan Menken, Jack Feldman Harvey Fierstein
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht, Jennifer Wise
It’s a Wonderful Life by James W. Rodgers
Hairspray by Thomas Meehan, Mark O’Donnell, Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman
‘Round the World and Back Again by Stephen Murray
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by Rebecca Feldman, Jay Reiss, William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin
Roald Dahl’s Matilda, the Musical by Dennis Kelly, Tim Minchin
Decision Height by Meredith Dayna Levy
Recommended Reading for Girls by Ellen Struve
You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown by Clark Gesner, Michael Mayer, Andrew Lippa
The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe

The ITF main stage is the place for performers and audiences to experience the beauty and excitement of live theatre. There's nothing like the rush of presenting a show in front of hundreds of fellow Thespians. Schools invited to present in the Lied and the Kimball will be asked to present their shows two times. Main stage shows are selected by a team of adjudicators. Your show can be big or small—we just want the best.

Click here for a list of all the shows that have been on the ITF main stage since 2006.

Main Stage Shows Seating Assignments (Lied and Kimball)

Lied main stage seats:

Every delegate will be assigned a seat to see all the shows in the Lied. To accommodate the delegation, each Lied show will be presented twice.

Kimball main stage seats:

Main stage shows in the Kimball Recital Hall are outstanding and the facility is charming, but with only 800 seats in the venue, it's impossible to accommodate 4,000 attendees. Troupe directors will be given unlimited flexibility not only in selecting the shows they want their students to see, but also allowing them to select specific seats to ensure their students are seated together.

We will continue to work with BookTix to provide online selection of Kimball show seats. The sooner a troupe is registered and paid in full, the better selection of shows and seats the troupe will receive. The troupe director will receive an email with the Kimball ticket reservation code after May 15. Once the code is received, the troupe director will need to log in to BookTix to select the seats. Each troupe will receive two tickets per registrant to use as they want. For example, a troupe may choose to have all its students attend two shows together, or break tickets up to allow a smaller portion of the troupe see each show. Each troupe can decide! 

Seats are limited, and shows will sell out. To reiterate, the sooner a troupe is registered and paid in full for ITF, the better their chances to see the shows they want (did we mention paid in full?).

Main Stage shows FAQs

How are shows selected?

A team of roughly 50 theatre educators and professionals is sent out in pairs to view each show. They are asked to invite the best that they see, and no other limitations are set for them. Each is required to submit a lengthy critique and itemized score that offers their perceptions on all aspects of each production.

Do sponsors have a say in which shows are presented in the main stage venues?

They do not. As noted above, a team of adjudicators reviews the shows. Adjudicators are never directed to select a specific type of show or a specific title, only told to invite the best that they see.

Why are some shows that get invited better than others?

Selections are made based on opinions, and those opinions can vary greatly. One person may like a particular production, but another person may not—it’s not an exact science. Consider the movie reviewers one sees on TV. All are considered to be movie experts, but their opinions on some movies often vary greatly. Typically shows aren’t totally great or totally awful, but fall somewhere in between. Even the best shows have weaknesses. Adjudicators don’t take these decisions lightly and deliberate at great length deciding if a show should be invited based on its strengths, or declined because of its weaknesses. Another reason the quality of a show may not be as strong as one would like is because sometimes a show just won’t hold up. Sometimes if a show is adjudicated in the fall, it's very difficult to keep the production's enthusiasm and focus strong all the way to June. Therefore some shows that may have looked great when they were adjudicated may not look as strong by the time they’re presented again at ITF. All of these factors result in varying levels of quality among the productions staged.

Why are there so many musicals and so few non-musicals?

We screen roughly the same number of musicals as non-musicals each year. The adjudicators are asked to recommend the best that they see and it seems that musicals are generally presented at a better quality level than non-musicals. Ideally we would like to offer a wide mix of show styles.

Why are shows sometimes scheduled with similar styles together, such as three musicals in a row?

The ideal schedule would intermingle musicals and non-musicals, but many factors must be weighed when scheduling shows. We must consider how many trucks will be at the load-in docks at any given time. There are load-ins for three performance venues going on most of the day in the same area, and it can become quite a traffic jam if not well-planned. Personnel schedules must be considered as well. Some shows' technical directors or choral directors can’t attend the entire week of ITF, so we must schedule their shows when they can be there. These are just a few of the factors that must be considered when scheduling performances.

Why don’t you require schools to build smaller sets so all shows will fit in both main stage theaters?

A school generally plans a season of shows based on what they think will appeal to their school and community audiences, then builds sets to fit their home stage. It would be inappropriate for us to dictate what size shows schools should be presenting in their own facilities, or how they should plan their seasons. Some shows simply require a larger set. We want to expose ITF audiences to as many different types and sizes of theatre as possible, and don't wish to limit the shows schools select for production.

Why do you allow shows with mature content to be presented on the ITF main stage?

We do not censor. We never want to tell ITF audiences what they can and cannot watch. Some schools allow their theatre departments to present shows with riskier content, which enables those schools to bring such shows to the ITF. We realize some people are uncomfortable watching these types of shows or would not be allowed to view them in their schools. We post the full schedule a week before the event to allow audience members to make choices about which shows to see. All main stage shows are given a rating, and shows featuring mature content are noted as such. With the schedule published in advance, attendees can decide whether to see the performance in question, attend another show, or choose a different activity. 

Submission information:

    1. Selection rotation - Directors, chapters and/or troupes will not be eligible for a main stage performance slot 2 years in a row. This rules began in the 2017-18 school year. 
    2. Submission requirement - Any troupe wishing to be considered for ITF main stage must submit their application by October 15, 2018. No late entries will be considered.
      1. The total, direct cost of the adjudication depends on the day selected:
        • Thursdays = $1,675
        • Fridays = $1,525
        • Saturdays = $1,325
      2. The full payment (as noted above) must be received 8 weeks prior to the adjudicated production. Cancellations are allowed within 8 weeks of the production with no additional administrative fees.
    3. Seasons - All applications are due by October 15, 2018. This is because we will be breaking the main stage adjudication school year into two seasons - fall and spring.
      1. Fall - shows adjudicated by December 31, 2018.
      2. Spring - shows adjudicated by April 1, 2019.
      3. Main stage spots will be held in proportion to the number of shows submitted.
        1. For example – If 36 shows are submitted for 11 main stage slots with the ratio of 12 in the fall and 24 in the spring, then fall will be awarded 4 slots and spring will be awarded 7 slots.
      4. Shows will be selected based on the highest scores per season.
        1. In the event of a tie or other extenuating circumstances, the main stage adjudication committee will make the final selections. It’s important to note, if anyone on the main stage adjudication committee has a conflict of interest, they will be excluded from the discussion and voting.
        2. Shows not selected will be invited to a wait list to fill spots if they become available. The additional slots will combine the fall and spring seasons and order them by highest score.
          • In January, a note will be sent to fall schools not selected to confirm their interest in being considered as an alternate should an opening become available. Those schools will be notified in the spring announcement period.
        3. Selected shows will be contacted directly and announced in the EdTA News & Notes on:
          1. January 5, 2019 for fall.
          2. April 5, 2019 for spring.
    4. Consistency in performance - Similar to NIEs, the show that has been awarded a main stage slot must be substantially the same as presented originally. Examples include:
      1. If the original show had live musicians, the main stage show must bring live musicians.
      2. If the full show was selected, a concert version cannot be substituted.
      3. If there are any changes to casting (emergency or otherwise), it must be submitted and approved by the main stage adjudication committee prior to the event.
    5. Adjudicator restrictions - Judges cannot judge:
      1. In seasons where they or their school is submitting a show.
      2. In their primary state.

To perform on the International Thespian Festival (ITF) main stage, a school must meet the following requirements:

  • All production participants must be officially registered delegates for the entire week of ITF.
  • Main stage directors must arrive on Monday. Considerations will be made for individual troupe needs, but directors must be onsite Monday morning.
  • Main stage groups must have a stage crew to mount and strike the set.
  • Scenery, props, costumes, makeup, etc., must be supplied by the performing groups. Some riser units can be provided by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for use as scenic pieces.
  • Study and adhere to Stage Safety guidelines as defined and referenced below.

Note: To give as many schools as possible the chance to perform at ITF, schools may present in only one ITF venue: main stage, Freestyle Theatre, or the Chapter Select Showcase. If your school is performing on the main stage then your school cannot perform as part of Freestyle Theatre or the Chapter Select Showcase.

The production the adjudicators see must be the same production presented at ITF.

Do not present a full-length production for screening if you are interested in a one-hour slot, and vice versa. Do not plan to substitute cast members or make major changes in your scenery, costumes, technical effects, etc., for your presentation at ITF without consulting with and approval from the National Office.

Full-length productions

Full-length productions must not exceed two and a half hours. They may be scheduled in the afternoon and the evening, Monday through Saturday. Larger productions will be allowed a maximum of four hours to set-up. Lighter tech productions will be allowed one and a half hours.

The Lied

Playing space: stage, 38’ deep by 48’ wide and orchestra pit, level with the stage, 13’ deep by 62’ wide.

With advanced approval, additional set-up and prep time may be allowed in the Lied scene shop. Schools invited to present in the Lied will be asked to present their shows twice and must provide 4,400 printed programs.

For more information click: "What to Expect: Lied Center Mainstage Load-In"

The Kimball

Playing space: 35’ deep by 42’ wide.

The orchestra pit is 7’ by 53’ and will remain covered. Shows invited to present in the Kimball may be asked to present their show two times and must provide 1,700 programs.

For more information click: "What to Expect: Kimball Mainstage Load-In"

Stage Safety Guidelines

In an effort to support our teachers and provide a safe performance experience, EdTA and ITF have partnered with the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) to provide stage safety resources and educational materials. Over time, this set of resources will grow. As of this date, the following standards and resources must be reviewed and adhered to by any program performing on a mainstage at ITF:

Fall Prevention resources:

Walking and Working Surfaces (OSHA 1910.25)
Guidance on OSHA standards for Work Surfaces/Platforms
Stairways and Ladder Safety (OSHA 1926.1052)
Guidance on OSHA requirements for Guardrail and Safety Railing Compliance

Production allocation

The ITF will reimburse main stage performing groups for a portion of production expenses for one performance only. The funds may be used for costumes, makeup, props, scenery, programs, and other costs associated with producing the show at ITF.

Production expense allocations are made according to the following:

  • Full-length musicals, up to $2,800
  • Full-length drama/comedy, up to $1,800
  • One-hour comedy/drama/musical, up to $1,050

Transportation allocation

Each producing school will receive transportation expense allocations from ITF to assist with the costs of transporting scenery, costumes, etc. This allocation does not include reimbursement for student transportation. Transportation expense allocations will be established on the basis of AAA mileage charts.

Transportation expense allocations are made according to the following schedule:

  • Schools 0 to 500 miles from Lincoln, up to $800
  • Schools 501 to 1,000 miles from Lincoln, up to $1,300
  • Schools 1,001 to 1,500 miles from Lincoln, up to $1,800
  • Alaska and Hawaii schools, up to $2,800
  • All overseas schools, up to $3,550


In 2020 ITF is moving to the campus of Indiana University (read more). For those interested, below is the information on the theatre:


Auditorium Theatre


Proscenium (maximum opening)


48’-68’w x 0-32’h

Stage Depth

36’ (to last avail working lines)

Full – 64’-1”, PL- US LS 55’-2”

Height (floor to grid)



Wing Space

SL – 20’-0”, SR – 25’-1” to the flyrail

51’ SR & 51’ SL

Overall wide of the stages



Size of the orchestra lift

13’ us/ds x 50’4” W (curved)

DS 64’ x 6’-6” US 59’ x 10’-6” both curved

Size of the orchestra pit

Additional 5’ x 50’ available 
if row 1-2 is removed

~70’ x 20’-9”