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Secondary School Shakespeare Festival
Festival FAQs

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Secondary School Festival FAQs

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.


Students are encouraged to edit their own selections for performance, direct their peers, and take on other responsibilities.

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.

How long should our performance be?

Performances must be between 15 and 25 minutes. Really. Please be considerate and adhere to the 25 minute limit.

What about props and staging?

  • Each group must include a student stage manager and company manager.
  • The Folger will provide basic furniture—a table, chairs, benches—which you can view at the walk-through.
  • Each group may bring other 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.
  • 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, etc.
  • 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.
  • Basic stage lighting will be the same for all performances.
  • The responsible teacher and any student directors or stage managers 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. At that time, we'll be happy to accept your $100 registration fee (checks made payable to the Folger Shakespeare Library) and other paperwork at the walk-through.
  • The 2015 Festival will take place on the set of Folger Theatre's Mary Stuart, an inn-yard theatre set extending over the original seating pattern for a setting in the round. Dimensions, accessibility to the stage, and traffic patterns will be available to accepted participants. 

    What is the schedule like during the Festival?

  • East Festival day begins at 8am and concludes at about 1:30pm. 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.
  • This event lasts all day. We hope that for this one day, students will make other arrangements concerning jobs, rehearsals, sports practices, etc., in order to remain for the entire Festival. 

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
What awards and recognition are offered?
  • Commentators will give constructive and encouraging feedback after each performance. At the end of the day, commentators will present awards of many kinds for excellence in all aspects of performance and production.
  • Each student will receive a token of his or her participation in the Festival.
  • Students will be treated to lots of great Shakespeare, and careful, positive attention by extraordinary professional commentators.
Secondary School Shakespeare Festival

How To

Planning Guide: A Festival Timeline

How-To: Selecting and Cutting Scenes

Learn More

About the Festival

Rules for Participation


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