Become a Judge

How does judging work?

At the beginning of the semester, judges let us know what their conflicts and preferences are. Based on conflicts of schedule, conflicts of interest, and the judges' preferences, we assign each judge to 8-12 of the 20-25 shows that go up that semester. This lets us ensure that no judge is biased either toward or against any show they're assigned to, while also ensuring that everyone who is eligible for an award has a fair and equal opportunity to win. We work with each show's producers so that judges can see their assigned shows for free, if the show isn't free already; sometimes this involves ushering. At the end of the semester, each judge nominates participants in the shows they saw in the different award categories.

How many judges are there?

Usually about 10 per semester.

Who would make a good judge?

Anyone who is involved in, or just appreciates, theater. No special background or training in theater is necessary, although we will choose panelists who together have a variety of theatrical backgrounds. Judges should have an open mind and an appreciation for a variety of theatrical genres and methods. Ideally, the panel will have judges from many major theater groups on campus, local alums, and other regular theatergoers, so that the awards best reflect the overall will of the larger theater community at Harvard. We prefer judges with a current or recent Harvard affiliation.

I'm a student and plan to be involved in a lot of theater at Harvard this semester. Doesn't that disqualify me?

Not at all! In fact, if you plan to be involved in theater at Harvard (or elsewhere) going forward, this can be a great opportunity for you to see a lot of what others are doing, think critically about what works and doesn't, and learn from their work. You won't be permitted to judge any show you are personally involved in, of course, but you can judge shows that friends are involved within limits and so long as you are able to do so fairly - a determination which is made on a case by case basis. You'll only be judging about 8-12 of the 20-25 shows that go up in a semester; chances are good you'll be able to work it out.

How much time will it take?

Not a lot. Judges must see their assigned shows during the semester, but that's just about it. Judges can choose whatever showtimes work best for them for the shows they are assigned. And judges will be invited to, but not required to attend, a reception at the end of the semester.

I'm a student and plan to be involved in a lot of theater at Harvard in the future. Couldn't directors or producers hold nominations I make against me?

No, because your nominations are secret. Not even the other judges will know who you nominated. We value and protect your honest opinion.

To apply to our volunteer panel of judges for the Harvard Theater Awards, please fill out the form below:

Apply to Join