Festival FAQ

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POSTED 1/18/11
Question:
On Tech Saturday is it possible to pre-hang two cables on a fixed bar above the stage?  These are not lighting cables but rather large clips that would help to suspend a working swing for our show. They would stay there for the week until our five-minute setup.
Answer:
Basically, if it's not a problem with the host, you can install anything.  As long as it doesn't get in the way of other things and it's installed on Tech Day, that's perfectly fine.
The problem is that the rigging something over the stage in someone else's facility can be a safety issue and you would have to have their approval.  It might not be possible on their stage  The motion might hit the other battens.  You will need to talk to your host and host TD, and maybe meet them and discuss it on site.

POSTED 3/4/10
Question: 
I'm running into a tricky situation with our 5-minute setup.... We're able to get everything set up in the allotted time.  However, since we are using LCD Projectors, one of the projectors automatically switches to "standby" mode if it is left idle for too long (meaning that it shuts off).  To "waken" it from "sleep mode", all I have to do is push a button.... IF that happens when the actors are taking their places, would that disqualify us???  I'm just afraid that the lag time between the end of our setup, waiting for the judges to enter, and then calling places will cause the projector to shut down...
Answer: 
Leaving a projected image(including a blue screen) on at the end of your 5-minute setup is of course not allowed.  I have seen this problem dealt with in many different ways over the years. 
* One way has been to set the projector so it doesn't go to standby.  Most projectors have such a setting.  You can also set your computer to never sleep as well.
* Some projectors have a "blank" button.
* Some projectors have a remote which you could use to bring it out of standby once your show begins. 
* Some people use a lens cap or dowser to hide the blue of projected image after the 5 minute setup.
The reality is that if you intend to use technology you run the risk of it not working for you.  If things don't work, like the projector, you need to have a plan B.  The start of your show should not be delayed for you to deal with a tech glitch with your equipment.  If you borrow equipment, the same rules apply.  You need a plan B if the technology doesn't work.  The show must go on.

Question:
What about the use of mics to boost the sound onstage? Is it allowed, should it be mandatory for everyone at a site if they are installed?

Answer:
Mics can certainly be used in a performance, but they can backfire.  One year, a school used a rack of wireless body mics and they malfunctioned, basically ruining their show.
No school should be required to use mics. The aesthetics (and risk) of using the mics is an artistic choice that should definitely be left up to the individual school/director.
They could be installed at a site and available to all schools, but their use should not be required.

Quetion:
Explain about New England Eligibility
Answer:
One school from each class will be nominated to advance to the New England Drama Festival in April. Only schools who declare eligibility and pay the registration fee by the Friday of Regionals are eligible. Form on MPA website.

Question:
Is it possible to request a performance time for the regional competition? I have several students who are involved in Destination Imagination, and their competition is on Saturday morning, March 11. If we could perform our play on Friday night March 10, then these students will be able to participate in the Festival as well.
Answer:
This question comes up every year. When you find out which regional you will be going to, just ask your host the same question and hopefully you will be able to perform on Friday.

Question:
What is the procedure for actors get into places if the curtain will be open at the start of our show?
Answer:
The placement of your actors on stage needs to be after the judges are in, and just prior to the start of your show. You can move your actors into places in a blackout or do what most do and use a blue wash (for safety).

Question:
What is the procedure for placing actors in the audience if they need to be there for the start of the performance.
Answer:
Actors in the house can take their places during the 5-minute setup, assuming it won't be obvious to audience members (particularly the judges) that they are actors in position. The other way to do this is to move the actors into the house after the judges are in, This situation might be a matter of interpretation and "house rules," so it is recommended that the specific procedure for your production be clarified with the TD and host well in advance.

Question:
During tech checks, can directors request that the "time announcements" be only told to the director if he/she requests it? I would prefer not to be stressed by time - I think it would lessen the stress if the announcement is only made to the person in charge (if that is the director or TD)
.
Avswer:
The loudness and ferquency of the time announcements during 55-min tech checks is something that can be worked out between the TD and the director of the school setting up. 
During the five minute Set-up Strike, however, all times should be called loudly enough to be heard by everyone on stage.
Problems in the past have involved kids doing something on stage or in the booth after the end of the the tech check, and claiming they didn't know the time was up. 
When a school gets disqualified and they say they didn't understand or hear the timer, it's a big problem.

Question:
During Booth timing 
* Can the board operator load lighting cues from a disk or computer for their school's show and engage the cues? 
* Must they then at the end of the 5 minutes, remove the disc from the computer after they have checked the cues and specials - or can they leave the disc in with the first cue ready to go?
* Can the sound operator load sound cues, check for levels etc? 
* Must they remove the CD before the 5 minutes is up, or can they leave the CD cued up and they (themselves) leave the booth? 
* Since the timing is separate from that on the stage, do the lightboard operator and the sound operator say "Clear" to stop the timing or does the director have to be near the booth to say that as well?
Answer:
Booth timing has been a muddy area in the past. In some cases it hasn't been done at all. Hopefully, this will clear things up.
Booth timing is done separately from the stage (unless coordinated over intercom).
During the 5-minute setup, a school's sound and light crew should be using the time to make sure everything works for their show. That includes loading sound and light cues, checking levels, powering up computers, projectors etc. Everything needs to be ready at the end of the five minutes. As we move toward more and more sites having sophisticated lighting and sound equipment, each site may have slightly different house procedures and rules, but basically technicians from a school need to make sure everything works in the alloted 5 minutes. The host school should have a qualified technician to assist with any house-specific questions, but not necessarily to help solve problems with equipment that isn't theirs.
At the 2008 Class A State finals, the procedure for use of the light board was that for each school a house patch containing the rep plot was loaded into the board along with any specials being used by the performing school. If a school wants to pre-program cues, they do so at their own risk, and they need to be loaded into the board during the 5-minute setup. After they load-in cues and check everything out, they then leave the equipment in a "ready" state with cues loaded etc. If their disk doesn't load or some other technical glitch happens as they try to load their show on to the board, so be it. The show must go on. All light board operators should have a plan B. Cues are becoming common practice and student lighting designers should be able to utilize this technology where possible. Saying that, it's still "house rules" and a site may decide that their board will only be run as a two-scene preset, with no programming by anyone. That is their right.
Regarding sound, much the same applies. The performing sound crew does whatever they need to in the 5 minutes to be ready for curtain, then they wait outside the booth for the start of the show. All equipment can be in a"ready" mode.
Regarding projectors and computers, it is important that a performing school ensure that at the end of their 5 minutes, everything is ready for the curtain. If a projector gets stuck in standby mode or a lamp blows, or if a computer freezes, so be it. Schools run a certain risk when they use complicated technology and things can definitely go wrong.
A projector left in ready mode is not considered a light unless there is an image being projected.
If something goes wrong between the end of the 5 minutes and the start of the show, the show must go on. Curtain will not be held waiting for a computer or projector to restart. 
The lightboard operator and the sound operator will say "Clear" to stop the timing. The director does not have to be near the booth to say that as well.

Question:
What is musical theatre, and what isn’t?  I’m thinking of doing an adaptation of a musical but I’m only using the libretto does that count as a musical?  How about an opera?
Answer:
Yes, these do qualify as musical theatre. 
FROM THE GUIDELINES:  A script designated in a play catalog as "Musical Theater", "Musical", "Play with Music", etc. shall not be permitted whether or not the music from that play is used in the production. Music and/or choreographed movement may be used to enhance a non-musical production. Using the "book" from a musical, however, is not allowed even though the music itself from the show is not used. It is not the intention of the festival to perform musical theater. If a director is unsure of the status of a play, he/she should consult with the MDC chairperson in advance of committing to the play. When in any doubt, written confirmation from the publishing house that the piece in question is not musical theater should be secured before committing to the production, since such written permission shall be the final authority if the production is questioned.

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