Festival FAQs

Main stage shows

How are shows selected?

A team of roughly fifty 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 four-page critique form 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 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 Festival. 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; unfortunately quality seems to be tilted towards the musical theatre style.

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 Festival, 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 theatres?

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 Festival 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 Festival main stage?

We do not censor. We never want to tell Festival 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 Festival. 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 Festival 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.

Main stage seating

How are main stage seats assigned?

Each troupe is assigned a number when their registration and full payment are received, and seating is assigned based on that number. For example, the troupe that sends in its materials fifth will be given the number five and will be the fifth troupe to be seated when seating begins. Once a troupe is assigned their seating number that number will not change even if they add, delete, or substitute delegates. Seating assignments are assigned by alternating between the blue and yellow tracks.

How is ticketing for Kimball shows determined?

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 Festival attendees. Each year we try new approaches to ticketing based on feedback received from previous Festivals, in an effort to welcome as many delegates to Kimball shows as possible. This year, we've created a way to give troupe directors 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.

In 2017 we're working with BookTix to provide online selection of Kimball show seats. The sooner a troupe is registered and paid in full for Festival, the better selection of shows and seats the troupe will receive. 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! Full details and processing will be provided to troupe directors upon their completion of Festival registration.

Seats are limited, and shows will sell out. The sooner a troupe is registered for Festival, the better their chances to see the shows they want.

Why don’t you switch the audiences between the two main stage theatres?

The math doesn’t work. The Lied has 2,200 seats and the Kimball has 835.

There often appear to be many empty seats in main stage shows. Why don’t you fill them all?

We assign all the seats in the main stage venues, but delegates often choose not to see a show, sometimes at the last minute. Frequently the empty seats have been assigned to troupes performing in one of the main stage shows. We make every effort to make empty seats available to other delegates, and allow Festival attendees to let us know in advance which shows they won't be attending. Many people choose not to give up their seats.


Why aren’t we housed in closer dorms?

We assign housing in the residence halls that the university assigns to us, which varies from year to year. We are not the only guests on campus and some of the residence halls are assigned to other groups.

Why are workshops so spread out on campus?

The university assigns us rooms we may use for workshops. They have many issues to consider, but their first priority is the needs of the university classes they are offering. Some rooms and buildings are not conducive to sharing space with guests. Because many of our workshops are active and noisy the university will assign us spaces that are not near their classes whenever possible.

Why are there often overlaps in the schedule between one-acts, workshops, and main stage shows?

At any given time we must offer enough activities for every delegate. Because main stage shows sit about 3,000 people, scheduling other events at the same time ensures that the remaining 1,000 delegates still have plenty of activities to choose from.