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Drama (One Acts)


LEST offers an opportunity for schools to prepare and present scenes or one-act plays in juried competition. The schools that achieve a certain point level on the judging forms will receive an “Outstanding Performance” award, presented at the LEST Closing Ceremony. In addition, the director of each drama presented will receive comments from the jury to share with his or her students. These comments will be contained on the judging forms.


The Drama Competition will be held in the Nicheta Center at Crean Lutheran High School, following the schedule that will be sent to schools in January. The area for the performance should measure no larger than 20 ft. wide by 15 ft. deep. The area will be lit with a general wash, which may be brought up or blacked out. There will be no special or spot lighting available.

How to Participate

Each school should indicate on the LEST Registration Form their intention to participate in the Drama Competition. Each school may also submit a program page which lists the title of the play, the cast list, the school’s name, etc. You are encouraged to use student artwork on this sheet. Concordia will create an electronic program from these program pages for the drama performance. The program will be available on the LEST website.


  1. Schools must clear royalty issues with the play’s agent. Concordia University is not responsible for any royalty infractions or royalty payments. We strongly encourage you to contact the publishing house (Samuel French, Anchorage Press, etc.) to determine whether royalties are applicable. Be sure to inform them that this is a juried competition with educational outcomes and that no admission will be charged.
  2. Bring any props or costumes needed for the production, remembering that each school will be limited to 5 minutes of set up and 5 minutes of take down time before and after the performance.
  3. You are encouraged to use understudies for any actor or actress who may find themselves in the position of needing to decide between performing on the stage or participating in another LEST event. THE SCHEDULE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BE CHANGED BECAUSE OF EVENT CONFLICTS.
  4. It would be very helpful if you can bring two extra scripts to your LEST performance - one for the judges and one for the person controlling the lighting.

Guidelines for the Selection of Scene or One-Act

  1. It should be a contemporary script (post-1930).
  2. It must be no longer than 20 minutes in length. (The performance will be halted at 20 minutes.)
  3. No musicals or original scripts are allowed.
  4. There will only be 5 minutes to set up and 5 minutes to take down the set for the performance. Choose and plan accordingly.

Criteria for Juried Comments and Judging

The jury will consider the following when writing comments and when choosing the recipients of the awards:

  1. Voice/Projection
  2. Blocking and Movement
  3. Preparation/Improvisation
  4. Facial Expression/Body Language
  5. Characterization
  6. Ensemble
  7. Set/Costumes/Technical Elements

The judging form, available on the LEST website, explains in more detail on what the judges will be basing the scores.

Drama (Monologues and Duos)


A performance-based assessment rubric is used for all categories.

  • The ratings are (4) Superior, (3) Excellent, (2) Good, and (1) Fair.
  • The ratings tabulate to a numeric total ranging from 4 to 24, depending on the number of criteria included in the individual rubric. Please familiarize yourself with the rubrics, scoring, and critique sheets.
  • To determine an entrant’s rating:
    • Add up the scores in the far-right column, and enter the totaled score at the bottom.
    • Based on the total, circle the indicator of achievement to the left of the column.
  • For an entrant’s overall rating, average the total numeric scores of the three adjudicators. Average scores will be rounded up to the nearest whole number; for example, an average of the three judges’ scores of 17.5 rounds to 18. A 17.4 will not round up to 18 but down to 17.
  • Student guidelines for each area are included in this document to help entrants understand adjudication.

Specific Rules

Rules for All Performance Categories

  • The time limit for monologue performances is 3 minutes. After the introduction (slating), time begins with the first word or acting action (if it proceeds the first word or note). If a student exceeds the time limit, the judge will notate the time and a final eligibility ruling will be determined.
  • Acceptable material:
    • Non-musical performance categories:
      Selections from full-length or one-act plays or musicals, written for the theatre, and published by:
      • Broadway Play Publishing
      • Concord Theatricals (R&H Theatricals, Samuel French, Inc., Tams-Witmark, The Musical Company)
      • Dramatic Publishing
      • Dramatists Play Service
      • Eldridge Publishing Company
      • Heuer Publishing
      • Music Theatre International
      • Playscripts, Inc.
      • Smith and Kraus
      • Stage Partners
      • Theatrefolk
      • Theatrical Rights Worldwide
      • YouthPLAYS
      • Any public domain plays written prior to 1925
  • Students are encouraged to choose pieces that speak to them, but copyright rules must be followed.
  • No performance may be filmed for rebroadcast or other use.

Specific Rules for Monologue Performances

In Acting (monologues), the skills measured are:

  • Use of transitions into and out of character
  • Ability to create a believable character
  • Communication of objective, tactics, and relationships
  • Use of focus and concentration
  • Integration of voice, body, movement, and staging

In a monologue performance, the entrant must follow these guidelines:

  • Begin with an introduction (slating). The introduction must include only:
    • The entrant’s name
    • Title of both selections
    • Name of the playwright(s)
  • Remain within strict time limits:
    • After the introduction (slating), time begins with the first word or acting action (if it precedes the first word).
    • Monologues are not to exceed 3 minutes.
  • Appropriate material:
    • Prepare two selections
    • Monologues should represent two contrasting selections (may be different in period, style, or mood).
    • Each selection should be approximately one and one-half minutes each.
    • Each selection should reflect an important moment in the play.
    • Only one character from each play may be portrayed in each selection.
    • Prior to the event, validate the material using the guidelines for acceptable material.
  • Participants will present themselves as a blank slate, refraining from clothing or accessories that distract from the character. Follow strict limits on clothing and props:
    • Props (including hand-held props), costumes, or theatrical makeup are not allowed.
    • One chair may be safely used.
    • Participants must wear all black. Clothing and shoes must be all black. Any visible color, including white, will result in a disqualification.
    • Clothing should be professional yet allow easy movement for the actor to accommodate the action of the performance.
    • Participants should refrain from wearing anything that might distract the adjudicators
    • Failure to follow any of the guidelines in this document will result in a disqualification.

Securing Performance Rights

It is the participant’s responsibility to obtain permission for the use of copyrighted material.

Play Publishers

  • Broadway Play Publishing, Inc.:
    • All competitions require a performance-rights license except for those five minutes or under in duration for which no license is required. For competitions with a duration of greater than five minutes a standard fee of $50 per performance applies for full-length plays and $35 per performance for short plays.
  • Concord Theatricals (R&H Theatricals, Samuel French, Inc. TamsWitmark, The Musical Company):
    • Monologues and brief excerpts of less than 20 minutes for adjudicated school theatrical festivals do not require a license or other permission. If the piece is under 20 minutes, there is no need to request or pay for a license.
    • A license must be obtained for any performance of a copyrighted work, including cuttings and excerpts over 20 minutes. A brief summary of proposed cuts or scenes must be included in the appropriate section of your license request.
  • Dramatic Publishing Co.:
    • There is no charge for use in theatre competitions or festivals.
  • Dramatists Play Service:
    • All Dramatists Play Service properties are pre-approved for conferences/festivals, with no written permission required and for no royalty unless the student is selected for the mainstage performance.
  • Playscripts, Inc.:
    • Royalties are waived for the performance of excerpts lasting less than 10 minutes at adjudicated school theatrical festivals or auditions, unless otherwise noted in the script. These performances, and only these, are automatically authorized by the playwright when you purchase books from Playscripts. (Note: Any other cuttings must receive prior approval from Playscripts.)
  • Smith and Kraus:
    • Most Smith and Kraus collections include a blanket permission statement for use. Remember, however, the piece you’re interested in performing must be found in one of these collections that include blanket permission.
  • Stage Partners:
    • Royalties are waived for monologues and scenes/excerpts lasting 10 minutes or less and performed in any adjudicated school festival. Any other cuttings must receive approval from Stage Partners.
  • Theatrefolk:
    • Monologues and scenes/excerpts lasting 10 minutes or less taken from scripts published by Theatrefolk may be performed in any conferences/festivals program without royalty
  • YouthPLAYS:
    • Royalties are waived for monologues and scenes/excerpts lasting less than 10 minutes for adjudicated school festivals. Permission for this use only is automatically granted so long as each participant has purchased a digital or printed copy of the script through YouthPLAYS.

Function of the Adjudicator

The most important function of the adjudicator is to serve as an educator. True, they must recommend outstanding plays, but adjudication without a carefully prepared critique, which teaches as it criticizes, deprives play festival participants of a most valuable feature: the opportunity for qualitative improvement.

An effective critique requires, among other things, extensive knowledge of all styles and types of drama, an understanding of the physical theatre with special concern for limitations often imposed upon the various performing areas in the province. The successful adjudicator must be able to discuss the plays they have seen in a firm but courteous manner. They must be objective, direct, and detailed in their criticism without imposing personal opinions dictatorially.

The adjudicator has the special responsibility of evaluating seriously the efforts of the actor, and of treating them and their performances with respect. Through many hours of rehearsal, they have sought to perfect creative performances for the satisfaction which comes through the search for perfection in the arts.

The adjudicator should use their skills and experience to make each Festival a pleasant and richly educational experience in the lives of participants as they seek to understand more fully the art of theatre.

Adjudication Guidelines

  1. Adjudicator SHOULD:
    • Realize that you should be critically constructive making suggestions which they may use to improve their work.
    • Understand that most actors try as hard as they know to be effective.
    • Whenever possible, find something about the performance which you can honestly commend.
    • Be specific in criticizing the production and use examples from it.
    • Keep your personal opinion of the playwright and script to yourself.
  2. Adjudicator SHOULD NOT:
    • At any time comment about the play. It may not be the best play for a particular actor to perform, but the adjudicator has no responsibility in a Festival to be publicly critical of the actor’s choice of play.
    • Criticize only in a negative way. Try to be constructive. It is your duty to help the director to improve their work.
    • Make a “performance” of your critique. Do not “act a role” before a captive audience.
    • Re-direct the plays. Suggestions are always in order, but let the director interpret them for their company and use them as they see fit.
    • Embarrass the actors, during either public or private adjudication. This includes use of sarcastic, ridiculing or belittling remarks.
    • Make any of the following or similar remarks:
      • “I didn’t like your play.”
      • “I would (or would not) have done it this way.”
      • “This play did not challenge the actors.”
      • “You should have tried a newer play. This one has been done so often.” “What can you expect with a play by this author?”
      • “I’m so tired of seeing that play.”
      • “As an actor, you were playing to type (or were typecast).”
      • “You were not the right actor for this role.”
      • “This role is beyond your capabilities as an actor.”
      • “I didn’t like your interpretation of this role.”
    • Spend critique time trying only to justify your decision.

Adjudicator Standards for Evaluating

  • Voice: Could you hear the actors distinctly? Was the rate too fast or too slow? Was there a variety of rate and inflection? Was pronunciation and articulation properly done for each character? If dialect was used, was it done correctly and naturally?
  • Characterization: Was there a complete bodily and mental recreation of the character by the actor? Were their reactions to other actors correct and effective? Did we “believe” the actor’s characterization all the time they were on the stage?
  • Movement: Were the movements of the actors in keeping with their characters?
  • Contrast: Were there clearly contrasting moods in the dialogue? Were emotional transitions natural and effective? Were the lines delivered in a manner natural to the characters in the play?
  • Preparation: Was there a smoothness of action that indicated adequate rehearsal and close co-operation and understanding of the play among the actor?
  • Timing: Did the actors pick up cues properly? Was the production static in places because the actors seemed to lack a correct sense of pace?
  • Motivation: Was there a logical reason for all business

Drama Team Leaders

Lori Siekmann
Concordia University Irvine
Professor, Dept. Of Theatre

Tony Vezner
Concordia University Irvine
Professor, Dept. Of Theatre

Leslee Myers
Crean Lutheran High School
Director of Performing Arts

Chelsey Everhart
Orange Lutheran High School
Director of Dramatic Arts

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