TheatreFest General Information


(last updated 8 March 2017)

TheatreFest National Administrator
Steven Arnold
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Mobile: (021) 08134482


Theatre New Zealand



Theatre New Zealand fosters and mentors community theatre and youth groups in all aspects of theatre. This includes performance, production, staging, design and script writing, through workshops and annual TheatreFests.


  • The New Zealand Theatre Federation (NZTF) was founded in 1970.
  • The Federation represents non-professional theatre societies throughout New Zealand.
  • It became the successor to both the British Drama League (est 1932) and the NZ Drama Council (est 1945) as the one National Body to provide advice, services, support and training at all levels.


A Stage for Every Age

  • The benefit of being assessed by an ANZDA Accredited Adjudicator, so your individual work and the production can develop to a greater degree.
  • Adjudication can validate the standard to which you are aspiring.
  • The accent of Adjudication is on creativity, direction and acting.
  • Net-working within the non-professional environment, including societies, directors, teachers and practitioners in all fields of theatre.
  • You can enter a piece of under 50 minutes duration – regardless of genre, style or author.
  • The TheatreFest format exposes participants to several styles of theatre in one evening.
  • An ideal forum for practising your craft in a supportive atmosphere.
  • A positive environment for young or new theatre practitioners to develop.
  • Awards recognise endeavour.
  • An environment in which both adults and young people can mix, work and learn off each other.
  • Productions incorporating music and dance are eligible.
  • Physical constraints regarding venues, technical rehearsals and travel, help to focus concept.
  • Progressing on to the Regional or National TheatreFest brings mana to your group.

Secondary Schools

  • The fostering of inter-school relationships.
  • Projects from your drama programme can be entered in the TheatreFest.
  • Meets the performance requirements of NCEA Drama Achievement Standards:
  • Level 1: 90006, 90997, 90999, 90009
  • Level 2: 91213, 91214, 91216, 91218, 91220, 91221
  • Level 3: 91512, 91513, 91515, 91517, 91519, 91520
  • Ensemble-devised class projects are eligible for entry and make good theatre.
  • It creates a forum of opportunity regardless of socio-economic situation.
  • Accommodates Sheila Winn Shakespeare entries
  • Progressing on to the Regional or National TheatreFest inspires your team to step-up.
  • Raises the profile of your school and drama course in the community and nationally.
  • Travelling to other centres places Performing Arts on a par with sporting activities.
  • Awards and cups can sit in your school alongside those of sporting achievements.


TheatreFests are devoted to the improvement of theatre standards by:

  • Providing each participating group an assessment of its work in respect of creativity and technique
  • Offering constructive feedback
  • Helping the audience to a fuller understanding of the presentation
  • Encouraging friendship, learning, sharing and communicating


  • To learn through performance and education
  • The opportunities to observe one’s peers
  • To gain enrichment by meeting other participants and groups


There are three levels to the TheatreFest:

  • Local
  • Regional
  • National

In order to progress from one level to the next, teams must enter the TheatreFest competitively.

Local TheatreFests can offer a non-competitive section where theatre groups or schools may enter the TheatreFest and receive an adjudication but choose not to be selected to perform at a Regional TheatreFest.

At the Local and Regional TheatreFest, teams will receive an on stage adjudication and a private oral report, as well as a written report.

At the National TheatreFest, teams will receive an on stage adjudication only, as well as a written report.

The Adjudicator recommends to the Organisers of each Local TheatreFest those presentations to be advanced to the Regional TheatreFest.

The North Island and the South Island Regional TheatreFest Adjudicators select those presentations which will perform at the National TheatreFest.


  • There is no restriction on the nature of the presentation.
  • There must be at least two performers.
  • Presentations must be under 50 minutes in length.
  • Scene changing during the course of a presentation and opening and closing music, if used, must be included in this time limit.
  • A maximum of 10 minutes is permitted for setting and a maximum of five minutes for striking. Groups will not be held responsible for technical delays caused by factors beyond their control.
  • Presentations will be allocated 60 minutes for a technical rehearsal at their Local, Regional and National TheatreFest.
  • Groups are responsible for obtaining all Performing Rights and making all Royalty payments in connection with their presentation at their Local and Regional TheatreFest. Theatre New Zealand will apply for Performance Rights and pay any Royalty fees (if applicable) for all presentations performing at the National TheatreFest.
  • Performing Rights must be obtained before rehearsals begin and Royalties must be paid prior to performance. Proof that Performing Rights have been obtained and that Royalties have been paid, must accompany the TheatreFest Entry Form. Further clarification on Rights and Royalties can be sought from the TheatreFest National Administrator.
  • Where composite, cut or adapted versions of plays are presented, written permission from the Playwright or the Playwright’s Agent for such a presentation, must accompany the TheatreFest Entry Form.
  • For plays obtained via the internet, copies of the web page authorising performances and/or cuts and adaptations must accompany the TheatreFest Entry Form.
  • APRA Performance Rights and Licence

Performance Rights and Music Licence must be obtained from APRA before rehearsals begin.

Proof of obtaining Performing Rights and an Agreement with APRA must accompany the TheatreFest Entry Form.

No APRA licence is required for playing music in the auditorium of a theatre, as the lights go down at the start of a production, during scene changes, during the interval, and after the final curtain or blackout of a production.

If music is used within a presentation, groups must check with APRA on whether or not a Licence is required.


Presentations will be allocated 60 minutes for a technical rehearsal at their Local, Regional and National TheatreFest.

The TheatreFest Organisers, at all levels, will provide groups with information on the venue’s stage setting, lighting and sound that will be available for that TheatreFest.

Providing special effects, specialist or additional settings, lighting and sound is the responsibility of each group. Information about these must be provided to the TheatreFest Organisers with the Entry Form.

Use your technical rehearsal wisely. The purpose of the technical rehearsal is to run your lighting, go over your lighting cues, entrances and exits, become comfortable with the new stage and test the acoustics. Please do not try to run a full rehearsal.

LOCAL TheatreFest

  • These are organised locally in accordance with the TheatreFest Conditions of Entry and TheatreFest Rules.
  • A Local TheatreFest is financed from local funds.
  • Teams entering a Local TheatreFest competitively must be available, if selected, for the Regional and National TheatreFest.
  • There is no limit to the number of presentations an Adjudicator, at a Local TheatreFest, can recommend to advance to a Regional TheatreFest, including recommending that no plays go forward if none are considered to be of sufficient standard.
  • The maximum age for actors in a youth presentation is 20 years at the time of the Local TheatreFest. The ages of the Director and crew are irrelevant.
  • There is no limit to the number of presentations a group may enter into a Local TheatreFest.
  • If a Local TheatreFest is not being held, then a group may enter a TheatreFest in another area but only with the consent of its Organising Committee.


  • This is an educative process for both the teams and the audience.
  • It is not a ‘critique’ but feedback on how the production gelled.
  • The adjudicator will comment on whether they felt it served the author’s intention and genre.
  • Try not to take comments negatively in the heat of the moment after the performance.
  • This is part of the on-going creative process of learning.
  • Engage the adjudicator in conversation to better your skills.

REGIONAL TheatreFest

There will be one Adjudicator for the two North Island Regional TheatreFests and one Adjudicator for the two South Island Regional TheatreFests. After adjudicating the two TheatreFests each Adjudicator is assigned to, they will confer to select the plays to advance to the National TheatreFest.

The following are a few hints for teams and Directors going forward to a Regional TheatreFest:

  • Streamline the presentation’s set for travelling.
  • Give actors a break in the rehearsal process or they will go stale.
  • Re-check lighting plot - don’t get too complicated. This causes more tension for teams than anything else.
  • Ensure details of the Regional TheatreFest venue have been received as early as possible including stage measurements, lighting available, whether or not there is a sound system, purchase of tickets and all other relevant information regarding their TheatreFest. If this information is not received, contact the TheatreFest National Administrator who will be able to help you.

Please remember most venues are staffed by volunteers who have work commitments.


Teams must advise the Regional TheatreFest Organising Committee of the following information:

  • Stage, lighting and sound plans
  • Technical support required for their rehearsal and performance
  • Typed written information for the programme to avoid any mistakes being entered in the programme. This information should include:
    • Name of play/presentation
    • Name of Playwright
    • Name of Director
    • Brief outline of play/presentation
    • Cast and crew list

The New Venue

  • Don't be over anxious. Each team will have technical rehearsal time at the venue.
  • Don't try to get into the venue before the allotted time as another team will be working or the Organisers will be busy.
  • Ask where to put set, props etc and arrange to take them away the same night.
  • Lighting: This is the first priority and while the technical crew and Director are doing a cue run, the actors should be testing voice levels at the same time.

Director - Have A Positive Experience

  • Remember that the Director sets the tone.
  • Keep worries to yourself.
  • Be positive in your approach to the new venue.
  • Seek help but don't expect the Organisers to do everything for you.
  • Keep your actors on task.
  • The only time you should look at your script is to give the lighting cues.


  • It will be more searching than that of the Local TheatreFest.
  • It will be different from that adjudication; it may even seem to contradict it. But presentations change and performances vary.
  • Everyone listen and learn. Don't have a closed mind.
  • Remember that the Director is emotionally involved.
  • Reflect on the adjudication. Adjudicators are not criticising, they are being constructive.
  • Watch the other plays and learn from the comments.
  • Theatre is for sharing.

NATIONAL TheatreFest

Up to eight presentations are selected from the Regional TheatreFest to advance to the National TheatreFest.

Teams must advise the National TheatreFest Organising Committee of the following information:

  • Stage, lighting and sound plans
  • Technical support required for their rehearsal and performance
  • Typed written information for the programme to avoid any mistakes being entered in the programme. This information should include:
    • Name of play/presentation
    • Name of Playwright
    • Name of Director
    • Brief outline of play/presentation
    • Cast and crew list

For more information regarding what to expect at the National TheatreFest, please refer to the Regional TheatreFest information.


Local Entry Fee

Local Organising Committee may set an entry fee for presentations to enter their TheatreFest. The level of this fee is at the discretion of the Organisers.

Please forward a cheque, made payable to NZTF, to the TheatreFest National Administrator or the fee may be direct credited into the NZTF bank account. This fee will be reimbursed to your Local TheatreFest Organising Committee.

TheatreFest Entry Fee

Please forward a cheque for either $140.00 per entrant for member groups/societies or $260 per entrant for non-member groups [Note it is cheaper to just join as a member $140 + $100 = $240 than to enter as a non-member $260], made payable to TNZ, or the fee may be direct credited into the TNZ bank account. The Entry Fee contributes to the running of the Regional and National TheatreFest.

TNZ Membership Fee

Any non-financial groups or schools should forward a cheque, made payable to NZTF, for $100.00 to the TheatreFest National Administrator or this amount may be direct credited into the TNZ bank account.


Actors cannot receive remuneration, whether direct or indirect, for performing in any competitive presentation. Directors may be paid, but if paid can not appear in that presentation.


A team going forward to a Regional TheatreFest may substitute an actor if, for whatever reason, a cast member becomes unavailable to perform at that Regional TheatreFest.

However, teams going forward to the National TheatreFest can only substitute an actor under exceptional circumstances and this can only be done in consultation with the TheatreFest National Administrator.


Groups entering a TheatreFest are required to supply one scanned copy of their presentation, to be forwarded to their Local TheatreFest Organiser, together with their TheatreFest Entry Form.


There is no censorship within the TheatreFest system. However, it is advised that if a presentation has scenes or language that may cause offence then a warning should be given in the programme.


If strobe lighting is used in a presentation, a warning must be printed in the programme.


Adjudications will consist of:

  1. General comments from the stage to the group and audience.
  2. A more in-depth discussion with the group in the Green Room at Local and Regional TheatreFest only. No Green Room discussion is held at the National TheatreFest.
  3. A written report.


The adjudication process is in essence informative and educational - for the players, directors, technicians and the audience.

The Adjudicator

The Adjudicator expresses their opinion of excellence, based on specialised educational training and practical experience. This could be seen as a subjective view of the acting, artistic achievement and technical skill in one production, in one theatre space, at one particular moment in time! No more no less.

The assessment framework used, considers the following aspects:

  • the play, design/concept, direction, acting, overall impression.

This brings an objective view to the Adjudicator’s thoughts.

Their responsibility is to offer a detached and impersonal view of the overall success and unity of the production. This can be confirming and dis-confirming.

Phase 1 - On-Stage Adjudication:

Its main purpose is to enlighten the audience as to genre and style, coupled with immediate constructive feed-back to the players.

This, in many cases, helps the audience understand what they have just witnessed. Particularly if it is outside their own theatrical experience. Audiences sometimes like to see if they agree with the Adjudicator, as things reach people differently.

The Adjudicator also addresses what the supports and challenges of the play/production were and how they were met. These often become the points for further discussion with the teams.

Phase 2 - Green Room Follow-Up:

One of the many difficulties new directors and teams find, is in the immediate aftermath of a performance, when the blood is running hot and the performance energy still flowing, to assimilate the comments from the stage. So in the Green Room they have the opportunity to clarify the comments made.

This is a discussion time, so teams should contribute, to make it a two way process. They can seek clarification of terms used by the Adjudicator.

It is a time for the Adjudicator to fully explain and discuss with the team more deeply what worked and what seemed not to.

Phase 3 – The Written Report:

The written report is set out with the assessment framework headings giving the Adjudicator a guide towards a balance in their comments on the production. It is where topics raised and discussed previously can be expanded and given in greater detail. It also gives you time, to digest and process those comments.

It is also here that an Adjudicator’s personal strengths and style of approach, may enhance their comments.

For instance:

  • Adjudicator 1 may focus on the literary aspects and be strong on voice work. Take their comments about the social implications and structure of the script, plus vocal dynamics and use them to deepen your production's approach to the author's intention, aligned with character growth.
  • Adjudicator 2 may be a great visual exponent or expert at physical realization. Suggesting ways of staging that could enhance the actors’ presence and character development. Use it to give variation both visually and aurally.
  • Adjudicator 3 may be an advocate of truth and depth of emotional realization. This could be tied in to thought processing and breathing patterns, in other words ‘inner action’. (Relevant also in comedy.)

Throughout the process of moving through the levels of the TheatreFest, you will receive what may at first appear to be conflicting information from each Adjudicator. It is not. This is because the current Adjudicator, has honed in on a different aspect of the production or style, to help you forward and deepen your work.

They are not telling you to change your production, but to find ways of enhancing it. It is not their job to tell you how to redirect your work. Don't be confused by this.

What they are offering are, 'ways of working'. Of uncovering and expressing, from various angles. Not re-jigging or re-directing your production.

Actors, you need to take what you can from each Adjudicator, what you understand at your current level of development and then apply it.

The same can be said of Directors. Never stop finding new ways of working yourself either. In seeking to deepen your own work - you will enhance everyone around you.

Criticism offered by an Adjudicator is most helpful when seen by directors, actors, and technicians as coming from an educational base. The emphasis should be on growth of theatre skills, stimulation of fresh ideas for discussion, and encouragement to apply newly understood theatrical principals in future productions.

The adjudication process is helping you to gain new skills, to enhance your work. "Theatre is not a way of life - but a way to life". Theatre is a team sport, it also needs camaraderie and the joy of 'playing'.



Name of Group

Title of Presentation

Name of Playwright

Name of Director

Name of TheatreFest Date

DESIGN/CONCEPT (12 Points)      4           3.5           3           2.5           2

 Costume & Makeup Nuance of character expressed well/good stylization  Character expressed appropriately  Attempt made to express concept 
 Set & Properties Imaginative & showed originality Appropriate for play/concept, some originality Attempt made to express concept
 Sound & Lighting Enhanced play & showed originality Appropriate for play/concept, some originality Attempt made to express concept

*Credit must also be given to the group that chooses not to use props. Also to those who use ensemble-based music & effects.


DIRECTION (40 points)      10      9      8      7      6      5      4      3

Concept & Interpretation Superior analysis of text Sound analysis of text/awareness of style Satisfactory interpretation Adequate understanding
Grouping Moves & Focus Superior use of space & areas Imaginative use of space & areas Satisfactory use of space & areas Restricted use of space & areas
Orchestration Climax Subtext Well achieved Mainly achieved Satisfactory shaping Adequate shaping
Team work Ensemble playing Superior Very good Satisfactory Adequate



ACTING (40 points)      10      9      8      7      6      5      4      3

Physical dynamics Movement Gesture Confident, imaginative expression Good confidence, appropriate use of movement Satisfactory presence Lacks confidence
Vocal dynamics Superior projection & use of tonal range Good projection & use of tonal range Satisfactory vocal range Limited vocal range
Character credibility & Text understanding Superior depth of character Very good depth of character Satisfactory depth of character Limited understanding
Individual work & Interaction Use of silence/pause Superior sense of timing & contribution Very good sense of timing & contribution Satisfactory understanding Limited understanding



OVERALL IMPRESSION (8 Points)      8      7      6      5      4      3      2

Creativity & Impact Fresh & Innovative Good Sense of Theatre Of Merit Adequate








The Olga E Harding New NZ Playwriting Award for new scripts is named after one of the founding members of New Zealand Theatre Federation who for many years was actively involved with the British Drama League – BDL and who, after the formation of NZTF became one of its Presidents.

The aim of the Award is to encourage playwrights to write short plays – 15 – 50 minutes, that can be assessed by a professional dramaturg. All entries will receive a written report.

It is also a requirement that the script receives a production in a Local TheatreFest in the year that the script is entered for the Award.

The benefits of entering are, therefore, two fold. The script is assessed in order to allow the playwright positive feedback on their writing, which will assist with any future writing and they also get to see a live production of their script on stage.

If you are presenting a new New Zealand play that has not been performed more than three months prior to the current year Local TheatreFest, then the Playwright may be eligible for the Olga E. Harding New NZ Playwriting Award.

If the Playwright’s script is to be considered for this Award, please complete the Olga E. Harding Entry Form and send, together with a copy of the script and entry fee, to the TheatreFest National Administrator.



This is an annual playwriting Award. It is administered by Playmarket and is open to any New Zealand citizen or permanent resident for any type of play script, with each play read by a panel of industry professionals.

Theatre New Zealand encourages playwrights entering the Olga E. Harding New NZ Playwriting Award to also enter the Adam NZ Play Award.

Prizes for the Adam NZ Play Award

Playmarket is very grateful for the generosity of the Adam Foundation, The Play Press and The PumpHouse Theatre, for offering the following prizes:

The Best Play: $5,000 and a public reading at Circa Theatre.

The Best Play by a Maori Playwright: $1,000 and development resources.

The Best Play by a Pasifika Playwright: $1,000 and development resources.

The Best Play by a Woman Playwright: $1,000 and appropriate development resources.

Special Prize for a Woman Playwright: Submission by The Play Press for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Special Prize for an Auckland Playwright: A two-week development season plus presentation, fully funded by The PumpHouse Theatre, with a view to inclusion in their programme in the following year.


All who make the short list will be included in Playmarket’s Script Register for distribution to potential producers. Should anyone want to license your play, Playmarket will offer to negotiate the licence for you.

For further information and a submission form, please go to the following webpage:



PO Box 9767
Te Aro
Wellington 6049

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Play Bureau (NZ) Ltd
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Dunedin 9047

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Emma Fleetwood
Theatrical Licensing Representative
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Mt Eden
Auckland 1024

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