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Bring a Play to Festival

As you plan your 2023–24 season, the IHSTF invites you to submit a production for consideration to perform at the Festival. Please read this page for detailed information about:

  • Play Response Process
  • Full-Length and Showcase Productions
  • Play Selection Criteria
  • Submitting a Production for Selection
  • Play Selection Process
  • Next Steps
  • Special Production Notes
  • Completing Applications


Festival Play Selection Committee responders strive to keep ownership of the art in the hands of the artists. It is not the place of play responders to re-create your art for you. By making meaningful statements, answering the artist’s questions, and asking questions, we can help the artists to discover within themselves what needs to be done to take their art to the next level. Every school’s theatre program has different strengths and weaknesses. With this philosophy, we believe one can give and receive truly effective feedback. This aspect is beneficial for all programs.

A FULL-LENGTH production is generally between 1-2½ hours and performed in a more traditional theatre space, using theatrical lighting, sound, stage, costumes, sets, props, etc. For example, a director might choose to submit the school’s fall play for evaluation as a Full-Length production. Schools will have a maximum of three hours to set up (not necessarily consecutive) and a maximum of one hour to strike. Actual set-up and strike times are based upon the length of the show, Festival schedule, scenic and technical requirements and staff schedules. (Low-tech, full-length shows which fit within the time restrictions may be submitted for a Showcase spot.)

A SHOWCASE production is shorter, 60 minutes or less; it is often performed in smaller theatre spaces or non-traditional stage areas. Showcase productions might include (but are not limited to) digital scripts, experimental projects, oral interp., and student-directed one-acts. It uses small sets (or no sets) and lighting is generally simple lights up and lights down. Costumes, props, some sound, etc. may be used. Showcase productions will have a maximum of 15 minutes to set up and a maximum of 10 minutes to strike.

Note: Some Full-Lengths may be asked to be considered as a Showcase.

The below forms must be completed and sent to Meg at before your production can be viewed and no later than September 15, 2023. 

Technical Guidelines for Full-Length Productions (PDF)

Technical Guidelines for Showcase Productions (PDF)


The Festival is not a competition. There are no “rankings” of first, second, etc. Plays do not come to the Festival in competition with each other but as part of a cooperative effort to bring a diverse sampling of high school theatre from throughout the state. Being chosen to perform at the Festival is not “winning” any more than not being selected is “losing.” An invitation to perform at the Festival should be seen as an honor and an opportunity to share students’ talents and accomplishments with their peers. A wide variety of factors are considered in the Criteria for Selection used by the Play Selection Committee:

  • The type and style of the production
  • The school size and geographical area/representation
  • The overall feedback by the respondents who view the production in your theatre
  • The appropriateness of the play for the performers
  • The educational value and relevance to the Festival audience and theme
  • The feasibility of transporting the production to the Festival
  • The feasibility of meeting set-up/strike time constraints at the Festival
  • The length of production (Because of space constraints and scheduling issues, shows longer than 2½ hours, including intermission, may not be selected for a Full-Length.)
  • The adherence to the fire and safety requirements for the Illinois State University campus.

The Festival Committee reserves the right to commission one or more Full-Length or Showcase productions.


  1. Choose to submit either a Full-Length or a Showcase production. Schools may not submit both in the same year. In addition, any school that was selected to perform a Full-Length production at the 2023 Theatre Festival is eligible to perform a Full-Length production at the 2023.

  2. Complete the Full-Length or Showcase Production Application online here. - REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED

  3. Note: Shows performing prior to October 6, 2023, require three weeks notice. Performances may be responded to between August 15 and November 13; no shows will be evaluated before or after these dates. If a show is going up after November 13, you may consider having respondents attend a final dress rehearsal.

  4. Submit all Production Forms and Payment.
  5. In addition, in order to be considered for selection at Festival, each school must be registered to attend the Festival by October 13, 2023. This means that all forms (Submit School Registration Form, Principal Acknowledgment Form, Excel List of Name, Medical/Media Release form for all participants0, and payment must be submitted. Selected schools will be given the opportunity to add to their registration. Schools can register for the Festival online beginning August 15, 2023.

  6. Fees: The application fee for a Full-Length production is $90.00 and a Showcase production is $75.00. This expense covers processing fees and University expenses. The application fee can be paid online with a credit card or a check can be mailed to the Illinois State University. Payment must arrive at least one week prior to the performance. The production will not be responded to if the fee is not received.

Schools have a better chance of being selected to perform at the Festival if they submit a Showcase production for consideration. Full-length shows with minimal technical needs that fit within the time window can be submitted as Showcase productions. Consider one-acts and student-directed shows for Showcases. It is a great opportunity for students to shine.



  1. After the Full-Length or Showcase Application has been received, an email will be sent to you that will contain several attachments including the Technical Guidelines Form and Play Selection Signature Form.

  2. The Play Selection Committee will secure between two and four respondents for each production and establish communication between respondents/directors regarding selected performance dates/times.

  3. The response team will then view the production at the home school. Immediately following the performance, respondents will lead the cast, crew, and director in a discussion. We also ask that the director provide a quick tour of the set to the respondents. This overall session, typically lasting no more than an hour, gives students and directors an opportunity to ask questions and share their ideas with respondents.

  4. The response team will submit their recommendation to the Play Selection Committee as to whether or not the production should be considered for Festival. This written response will be made available to the director in December.

  5. Within a week following the performance, directors are asked to complete the Director’s Response Form online. The absolute deadline for the Director's Response Form is November 13. Please be aware: When filling out this form, you will be asked how many additional students/sponsors you need to bring if you are selected. The number of additional students/sponsors you list in here is a determining factor in the selection process. You cannot increase numbers after this form is submitted.

  1. Selection of the Full-Length and Showcase productions will take place on Saturday, November 18, 2023. All directors must be available to receive notification of participation by telephone from 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm that day.

  2. A school whose Full-Length show was submitted for consideration, but not selected, may, at the discretion of the Play Selection Committee, be asked to become a Showcase production. If the school agrees to take the Showcase spot, the Play Selection Committee will discuss the changes which need to be made to fit an assigned space/time. If such an agreement is made, that production will be listed and considered as a Showcase production; therefore, the school would be eligible to submit a Full-Length again next year.

  3. Schools selected to perform at the Festival must register all students who attend. Additional students and teachers who register to attend the Festival because their performance has been selected will not be charged the late registration fee. Additional students/chaperones must be listed by name on the Director’s Response Form. The number of additional students/sponsor you list in here is a determining factor in the selection process. You cannot increase numbers after this form is submitted. Your list of names will be reconfirmed on November 18 during the notification phone call. Payment along with the Medical/Media Release Form for students and chaperones that have been added must be submitted by December 1.

  4. 4. If selected, an adult or adult decision-making representative for your production MUST be in attendance for a MANDATORY walk-through meeting on Sunday, December 3, 2023, at Illinois State University from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. If you cannot attend this meeting, your show will not be selected. This meeting is very important for information on technical needs, plaques, etc.

  5. Applicant schools must absorb all expenses (including royalties, if applicable) related to participation.

  1. All scenery and large prop items must be fireproofed and capable of passing a rigorous fire inspection.

  2. Generally, hanging of scenery is not allowed. There may be no flying of people, and no flown scenery may move during the show. 

  3. All scenery that is brought by the school is used at the sole risk of the school producing the show. 

  4. The producing school shall be fully liable for any damage or injuries occurring on or around, or caused by scenery and equipment that they provide. 

  5. No smoke machines or pyrotechnics are permitted to be used in any space. 

  6. Production design and scenery must be safe for actors, technicians, and all others. No production will be selected if, in the opinion of the respondents, there are questions about safety. 

  7. Because of the unique characteristics of each performance venue, sets may need to be altered to fit the available space. 

  8. For Full-Length productions, you will have a maximum of three hours load-in and set-up time (not necessarily consecutive), including technical adjustments and/or any stage rehearsal. Set strike will be limited to one hour. Actual set-up and strike times are based upon the length of the show, Festival schedule, scenic and technical requirements, and staff schedules. A general lighting plot will be provided, with a limited number of specials. 

  9. Showcase productions will have a maximum of 15 minutes for set-up and a maximum of 5 minutes to strike. Technical support is minimal; lights are “on and off.” There is no storage for props, scenery, etc. Dressing areas are limited. Sound equipment/system, if used, must be provided by the producing school.

QUESTIONS:  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Associate Director for Play Selection:

Andy Bero and Scott Metzger

Registration is now closed

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Event is Made Possible By:

Illinois High School Theatre Festival

General Questions:

IHSTF 2024 Executive Director

Hector Hernandez

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