Massachusetts High School Drama Guild

Massachusetts High School Drama Guild

The Massachusetts High School Drama Guild is usually known in common parlance as the MHSDG. According to their website, the MHSDG exists "for the charitable and educational purpose of promoting and strengthening excellence, access, and education in the theatrical arts for middle and secondary school students and teachers." Every year the MHSDG organizes the statewide high school theatre festival in March, as well as several other programs throughout the year.

High School Festival

The High School Drama Festival takes place over the course of the month of March in the state of Massachusetts. Any school may enter in, as long as the play is approved by the principal of the performing school and the entry form is submitted to the MHSDG. There are three levels of Massachusetts competition: Preliminaries, Semi-Finals, and State Finals.

Primary Rules of Festival

* No play may run more than 40 minutes (timed by three "timers," the lowest time of which is accepted as the Running Time.)
* No play may take a set-up or strike time of more than 5 minutes (timed by the Technical Director of the host site).
* All rules of the Host Site apply.
* All plays must be approved by the administration of the presenting school.
* Schools may not perform shows that were performed the year before at the State Finals round.
* Schools may not perform any play they have performed in the past three years.
* Schools may not perform a musical of any kind, unless given permission by the playwright to perform the piece without the musical/singing component. However, a school may include live music, vocal and/or instrumental, if given previous permission from the MHSDG.

Preliminary Round

All schools are placed into Preliminaries host sites around the state. From each site, three schools are chosen to move on to the Semi-Final Round. There is a "1st place," "2nd Place," and "3rd Place", however a schools ranking is only disclosed to the committee which assigns schools to semifinal sites. This level of Festival takes place over the course of a Saturday, usually the first weekend in March.

emi-Final Round

The winners of Preliminaries are placed in the seven Semi-Final host sites. From each site, two schools are chosen to move on to State Finals at the Back Bay Events Center. Again, there is a 1st and 2nd place winner, however a schools ranking is not disclosed until the committee meeting to select time slots for State Finals. Like Preliminaries, this takes place on a Saturday, two weeks after Preliminaries.

tate Finals

The 14 winners from Semi-Finals are brought to the Back Bay Events Center in Boston for a weekend of One-Act Plays. This level of Festival is held on the last weekend in March from Thursday through Saturday. Here, two winners are chosen to represent Massachusetts at the New England Drama Festival (See below). If either of the two winning schools cannot attend the New England Drama Festival, the alternate winner is next in line to attend. In the case that the two winners and the alternate cannot attend, which was most recetnly the case in the 2008 Festival, the next two schools ranked after the first alternate are selected to attend the regional festival. Like the two previous rounds of competition, a schools ranking is not disclosed unless they are declared winner, alternate, or additional alternate. The State Finals event is accompanied by a "Festival Video" (a montage of clips shot throughout the three days) that directly precedes the awards ceremony.

tate Finalists for the 2008 Drama Festival

(In Order of Show Appearance)(Note: Towns in parentheses indicate the town the school is located in, if not in the name of the school itself.)

* St. John's Preparatory School (Danvers, Massachusetts) - "The Odyssey"
* Winthrop High School- "Everyman"- Original
* The Bromfield School(Harvard, Massachusetts)- "Wiley and the Hairy Man"
* Duxbury High School - "The Tempest"
* Weston High School - "Painting Provenance"- Original
* B.M.C Durfee High School (Fall River, Massachusetts) - "The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)"
* Danvers High School- "Fully Committed"
* Westford Academy - "Dancing at Lughnasa"
* Hingham High School - "Removing the Glove"
* Nauset Regional High School - "The Laramie Project"
* Boston Latin School - "Tilt Angel"
* Norwell High School- "The Real Inspector Hound"
* Joseph Case High School (Swansea, Massachusetts) - "Mirrors"- Original
* Wachusett Regional High School (Holden, Massachusetts) - "The Magdalene Laundries"- Original

For Drama Festival 2009, none of these shows may be performed by any school in the Guild, nor can they be performed by the presenting school for the next 3 years.

All Star Company

Every year at State Finals, the MHSDG gives awards to members of what is called the All Star Company. Every school participating in finals has at least one member of the All Star Company. One is named to the All Star Company for Excellence in categories including Acting, Makeup Design, Ensemble Acting, Lighting Design, Sound Design, Costume Design, Hair Design, Properties Design, Set Design, Technical Design, Music Design, Stage Management, and Directing.

New England Drama Festival

This level of Festival is not overseen by the MHSDG; rather, the New England Drama Council oversees the Festival. Like State Finals, it is held over the course of a weekend. As there is no further to go, this level is non-competitive.

* 2008 New England Drama Festival: Rutland, Vermont

2008 Massachusetts Representatives:
* Westford Academy - "Dancing at Lughnasa" (Did not attend)
* Nauset Regional High School - "The Laramie Project" (Did not attend)

Alternate, should either winning school be unable to participate:
* Weston High School - "Painting Provenance"- Original" (Did not attend)

Additional Alternates, should the three aforementioned winning schools be unable to participate:
* Boston Latin School - "Tilt Angel" (Plans To Attend)
* Norwell High School - "The Real Inspector Hound" (Plans To Attend)

Drama Festival History

Since 1928, 64 schools have won the Drama Festival's top prize. Cambridge Rindge and Latin School has won 15 times with three alternates, St. John's Preparatory School is second with 12 wins and three alternates, and Revere is third with 11 wins with no alternates. The first drama festival took place over the course of a day and featured four schools. Since then, the festival has grown to 120 schools in 2008.

Other Programs

Middle School Festival

The middle school festival is similar to the high school festival in a sense that schools are scattered to various host sites throughout the day. However, there is only one round of competition, and from each host site a "gold", "silver", and "bronze" place are chosen. This program is recent, first starting in 1995.

Logo Design Contest

Every year, the MHSDG choses a new logo to represent the high school festival on t-shirts, programs, etc. Logos are submitted by students from member schools.

2007 Winner: Rachel Henderson, North Shore Regional Technical High School

et Design Contest

Students from member schools may submit models and sketches of set designs for various shows to be judged. Winners receive a scholarship from the MHSDG. This program usually takes place in the winter months.

2008 Winners:
1. Nicholas DiGiovine, Reading Memorial High School
2. Victoria Ronga, Reading Memorial High School

Costume Design Contest

MHSDG offers a costume design contest where aspiring costumers can design a set of costumes for a show to be judged. Winners receive a cash prize from the MHSDG and have their costumes displayed at finals of the MHSDG Drama Festival.

2008 Winners:
1. Annie Styles, Framingham High School
2. Emily Oliveira, Joseph Case High School

Monologue Contest

Every year the MHSDG offers students a chance to earn college scholarships based on presentation and performance. Students perform two contrasting monologues at a designated school in winter, where the winners are chosen. Top finishers perform their monologues at the state finals in late March.

2008 Winners:
1. Amanda Kearns, Framingham High School
2. Robert Burnham, St. John's Prep
3. Mary Christina Ahanotu, Framingham High School

Playwrighting Contest

Aspiring playwrights must submit their original plays to the MHSDG by January. These plays will be reviewed by a panel of judges to determine the finalists, and one judge, Mr. Chris Lacy, will chose a winning play. The winning playwright receives a cash prize and a staged reading at the state finals in March.

2008 Winner: Kirby Pendergast, Cambridge Ringe and Latin School, "Ruth+Justine"
Honorable Mentions: Tyler Alderson, "Shoot First, Ask Questions Later" The Bromfield School and David Moffat, "Expose",Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School.

cene Partner Contest

Students in grades 9 - 11 can enter this contest where scene partners present a three minute excerpt from a play for a panel of adjudicators. Applicants are judged on the basis of the actors’ ability to demonstrate concentration, control of material,flexibility and versatility of voice, movement and expression. Both actors should pursue strong, clear objectivesand make varied and specific acting choices.

2008 Winners:
1. Tom Dubinski and Tara Hurley Westford Academy
2. Mariah McFarlane and Cassie Shayne Duxbury High School
3. Emma Caitlin O'Rourke Friel and Rebecca Turner The Bromfield School


The MHSDG also offers workshops for students and teachers throughout the year. Topics include acting, lighting design, scenic design, costume design, choreography, and improvisation.

External links

* [ The Official MHSDG Website]

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