General Information

TheatreFest logo

2021 will be a year of national celebration for Theatre New Zealand.

• The Fiftieth Anniversary of Theatre New Zealand – formerly NZ Theatre Federation.
• The Eightieth Anniversary of TheatreFest – the One-Act Play Festival System.

Theatre New Zealand (est. 1970) is the successor of both The British Drama League (est.1932) and The NZ Drama Council (est. 1945), representing Community Theatre in Aotearoa.

2020 Vision logo

We are advising you well in advance so you can schedule the 2021 TheatreFest Finals, Workshops, AGM and Social Celebrations for September, in your Theatre planning for next year. Even if you aren’t entering TheatreFest, which runs from late July to early September, there will be workshops and net-working you may want to take advantage of, or simply, join in the celebrations of this long-standing national body.

If you haven’t ever participated in, but are intrigued by and wish to enter TheatreFest for 2021, then help celebrate this occasion. Please visit our website. More information on this national event in the New Year.  80 Years of One-Act Play Festivals! 


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.

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 $75 per entry for member groups (or $100 for non-members) and is for each entry regardless of how many presentations a group 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 as members can pay the annual membership fee of $100.00 by direct credit into the TNZ bank account.



• 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.