TheatreFest General Information


Dear Members and all Theatre Practitioners aligned to Theatre New Zealand

These are troubling times. The very nature of who we are is being challenged.
Productions around the country are being cancelled, Professional and Community.
Games, meetings, forums, concerts, reunions, workshops, gone altogether or postponed indefinitely.
Public and community life, as we know it, the very heart of theatre, curtailed.
I feel our government has done the right thing in basically closing the borders and creating an ethic to slow and perhaps block this virus.

Our friends of Musical Theatre NZ cancelled their Annual General Meeting and Training Weekend in Napier this past month. This was also their 60th Anniversary Celebration. Our sympathy and understanding goes out to them.
Thank you to those TNZ members who have already reached out to us seeking protection measures, to keep your people safe.

Is this an advantageous time for all of us to step back and check our Theatre Health & Safety Protocols?

As I write to you there has been no ‘community-based outbreak’. But the virus is slowly seeping into the very fabric of our society.
Necessary precautions are in place around the country.
Large and middle-sized theatre groups have seen fit to curtail their activities for the autumn.
Some smaller groups with similar sized productions in country areas are hanging in there.

Keep safe. We are asking you all to follow the Ministry of Health guidelines.

TheatreFest logo

No doubt you are all wondering what is happening to our July and August TheatreFest rounds and in particular the TheatreFest National Finals, along with the 2020Vision Celebrations in September at The Court Theatre, Christchurch.
It is just too hard to assess the progress, dangers and volatility of Covid-19.

It is therefore with deep regret that Theatre New Zealand has decided to cancel TheatreFest for 2020 and also put our celebrations on hold. (News of the AGM at a later date).
With people going into rehearsal late May – we all need certainty over the coming weeks.
I am particularly cast-down as we were creating a great line-up of workshops and celebratory activities on top of the National Finals. The Christchurch team were all looking forward to hosting you here again, at last! Christchurch seems to lurch from situation to situation. What a decade!

If you are writing a new play, don’t stop. If you were developing a devised piece, find a way to keep going. If you have the rights to an exciting piece of challenging theatre, hold them!

Maybe use this enforced time-out to strategize your group’s way forward in the spring.

We are here to help, with workshops and mentoring programmes.
The year started well. Let’s pick it up later and make even stronger, more creative, more stimulating theatre in the days ahead.
Let’s also now make 2021, reincorporating all of the above, (but not the virus) a year to remember!

My regards to you all, keep safe.
Nga mihi

Te Putoi Whakaari o Aotearoa
Bryan Aitken

TheatreFest logo

Theatre New Zealand TheatreFest


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.


  • Theatre New Zealand – TNZ (formerly 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.

PURPOSE OF TheatreFest

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


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.


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 and be paid members of TNZ.

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.


TheatreFest Entry Fee

The current entry fee is $80 per entry for member groups (or $110 for non-members) and is for each entry regardless of how many presentations a group/school is entering.

This Entry Fee is paid to TNZ, not the local organisers and covers administration costs of running TheatreFest.
Payment of the entry fee is by direct credit into the TNZ bank account or by posting in a cheque. Details are on the Entry Form.

TNZ Membership Fee

Non-financial groups or schools who wish to enter TheatreFest competitively must become members and pay the annual membership fee of $100.00 by direct credit into the TNZ bank account.

Those wanting an adjudication but not wanting to enter competitively can do so by paying the $110 entry fee and not becoming members and paying the $100 membership fee.



  • 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.
  • Reflect on the adjudication. Adjudicators comments are intended to be constructive and educative.
  • Watch the other plays and learn from the adjudicators comments.
  • Theatre is for sharing.


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.

Adjudication at Regional TheatreFest

  • It will be more searching than that of the Local TheatreFest.
  • It will probably differ from that adjudication and may in part contradict it. But remember presentations change and grow and performances vary and different adjudicators can see different things.
  • Everyone should listen and learn and not have a closed mind.
  • Remember that the Director is emotionally involved.

The New Venue at a Regional or National Final

  • 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.

You can download this document by clicking here.