The Sears Drama Festival is the longest running high school drama festival in North America. Sponsored by Sears Canada, this festival attracts hundreds of Ontario high schools and thousands of Ontario high school students each year in a competition and celebration of the performing arts. Its goal is to reward the participation in and the achievment of excellence in the dramatic arts. Through the vehicle of the one-act play, students can find out what it means to be a team, what it takes to be a leader, and the fundamentals of putting on a play. When students come together from across districts, regions and the province itself to share and learn there are no losers. The act of participation is the act of winning.
For information on the Kingston-St.Lawrence District Sears Drama Festival hosted by KCVI at The Wellington Street Theatre please go to Kingston-St.Lawrence District.
The Sears Drama Festival is a one act play festival for high schools. There are 3 levels; District, Regional and the Provincial Show Case. Each play will have a ten minute setup time which the festival stage manager will time. There will be a five minute take down time after the show is completed, which is also timed by the festival stage manager. The play itself cannot take more than 50 minutes. In each case, of the setup, the take down and the actual running time of the play itself, a time violation (going over the allotted time) will result in a disqualification of the production. Individual awards can still be given out however.
What types of plays are suitable?
Naturally a play that takes less than 50 minutes would be neccesary. One-person plays are not allowed. There needs to be a minimum of two performers interacting with each other. A one set play is a far better idea than one where the set has to be changed during the show for another location. A play should be picked which is suitable for the students involved. For instance, plays requiring sophisticated acting shouldn't be picked for inexperiened students. But for inexperienced students, plays with choral work and rudimentary choreography would work.
Plays that are suitable for Sears from this author. Ghost of the Tree which can have anywhere from 2 females up to 8 and portrays seven generations of women trapped in a doomed family tree. The play opens with a homeless girl returning to her family home; now empty and shows glimpses of the lives of the women that lived their before, her coke-addicted mother, her pot smoking grandmother, her neurotic fifties house-wife great grandmother, and back to a bi-sexual artist in the 1920's, a mentally handicapped girl at the turn of the century and finally the english bride from the 1800's who comes to Canada to marry and has a doomed affair that poisons the family tree. One scene would need to be cut to make the fifty-minute time line. Click here Ghost of the Tree
There are many plays that are suitable, hundreds in fact. They can be found in all sorts of places; in the school library, the public library at book stores and online. A big cast play is more suitable for less experienced actors, but they generally require a better stage crew. Experienced actors would do better with small cast plays. These generally require a less experienced stage crew. When great acting meets a great crew, then you have everything you need to go on in the competition.
Pretty Pieces is a look at poverty on the fringes of society as a dysfunctional brother and sister struggle to overcome drug addiction and mental illness. Click here for Pretty Pieces
But there are other things of course. The bigger the stage crew, the more elaborate the stage set can be. Of course the stage crew cannot be just a lot of unfocused students. They need to be organized by a top line stage manager. Be inventive and simple with your set plans. It should look pleasing to the eye. Detail-heavy set pieces are not required. In film you need something that looks realistic down to the tiniest detail, but on stage you only need the idea that the set piece suggests. Whatever pieces you use should be easy to move and easy to put together and take apart.
There are many awards available at the Sears Drama Festival, including, at the District and Regional levels; Outstanding Production Awards. At all levels there are awards of merit and awards of excellence. These awards are for acting, music, costumes, ensemble work, dance, sound, lighting, stage management, directing, writing and just about anything else pertaining to theatre. In the district and regional competitions, the adjudicator(the judge) who is usually hired by the hosting school can also give out an adjudicator's award for something that he or she thinks is outstanding. The festival stage manager; again selected by the hosting school in the District and Regional levels gives out an award to the top high school stage manager. The productions that are the best in the adjudicator's eyes are picked to go on to the next level unless of course the show has already reached the Showcase level. At the Showcase level, the adjudicator and the showcase stage manager are selected by the festival organizers.
The Sears Drama Festival is a wonderful opportunity for drama kids to test there skills and to compete in something that they love doing. High school sports develops skills based on competition. The desire to improve means to test oneself against the best there is. That is usually achieved through competition. Winning and losing are indelible moments etched in one's life. Learning to succeed by developing a cohesive team whether it be in sports or the arts is a primer for life. No matter how talented an individual may be, he or she can't succeed unless they are surrounded by a good team. As we all know, the performing arts can be one of the most competitive disciplines out there. Work together, learn together, succeed together.
Backstage is a hilarious story of a small town theatre in Canada suitable for 2 males and 5-9 females. Contact info (at) bottletreeinc (dot) com
The Barracks is a gripping look at life in a military barracks during World War 2 and how conformity must destroy the individual. 8 males required. Contact info (at) bottletreeinc (dot) com
The Battle is a powerful tale of what happens on the battlefield during the Second World War. Warning; Loud Noises. 7 males required. Contact info (at) bottletreeinc (dot) com
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