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Main Stage Presentation Rules


Maintaining the “level playing field” philosophy


The concept behind the Festival process is to provide a level playing field for all participants. If a representative of a presenting company has questions concerning the rules for Main Stage Productions after having reviewed the rules in full, please contact CCTC at


The following text is excerpted directly from the AACTFest Handbook.  This is a partial explanation of the rules.  Please consult the handbook in full at the following link on the AACT website.


A production entered in the festival process may be a cutting of a full-length play or musical, a one-act play, or any other performance of a theatrical nature, including children’s theatre productions intended for youth audiences and/or performed by 

children. The total length of the performance may not exceed sixty minutes (including introductions, scene changes, and curtain calls). Any element that brings the audience into the world of the play (music, sound, movement, lights, etc.), will begin the sixty-minute performance time. The complete cessation of such will complete the timing period. If a set-up or strike is intended to set mood, establish character, or otherwise begin the experience of the play, it will be considered part of the sixty-minute performance time.


Following the performance, the adjudicator(s) will comment on the performances.  Emphasis will be on acting and direction, but final consideration will be the overall realization of the production. 


Each company is responsible for furnishing any sets, props, or furniture needed for the production. The host theatre may provide standard articles of furniture, if requested to do so in advance.


When productions are selected to proceed to a regional or national festival, they must be performed in the same form at all levels, except that adjustments in staging may be made in response to adjudication at the prior level within the cycle or to allow for differences in stage facilities.  Material may not be added or withdrawn except to allow for easier compliance with timing issues. Actor substitutions may not be made without written consent from the Festival Commission Chair; substitution requests must be for legitimate hardships.  Substitution of musicians, production staff and technicians does not require consent; however, addition of crew or musicians does require consent.  Advancement is only possible from even year state festivals -- known as "cycle years" (e.g. - 2016, 2018).  Advancement beyond the state level is not possible for productions performing in the odd year festivals -- known as "non-cycle years" (e.g. - 2015, 2017).


The company will be permitted to pre-assemble any portion of the set on site during load-in, or other pre-agreed times available to all companies, provided that the assembled scenery does not exceed the allotted storage space, and the process does not interfere with any other entrant or the reasonable rules of the host. Any assembly that cannot be accomplished during load-in or the pre-agreed times will need to be accomplished during the company’s rehearsal time. 


All sets, props, special effects, etc. (everything utilized to present the production) must fit into a storage area and on-deck area (see definitions below).  Exception: costumes and musical instruments, if they are not part of the set or used as properties in the production, need not fit in the storage or on-deck area.  Costumes and make-up may be stored in the dressing room (if space allows), and put on prior to the performance.  Each company will have a storage area of similar size and should be aware different theatre spaces will have different height clearances.  The on-deck and storage areas may be open on all four sides; items need to be self-supporting.  Perishable or valuable objects and weapons should be brought to the storage area immediately prior to rehearsal and performance and removed thereafter.  Note: Items used during the production (props, costumes, etc.) may be struck to the on-deck area as soon as their use is complete. 


On-deck area: The on-deck area is immediately adjacent to the performance area. It is the location from which the set-up starts and the strike ends. The on-deck area must be 100 square feet (no more, no less).  While it can be of any shape, it is strongly suggested that the dimensions be 10’ x 10’ if at all possible.  The national festival will have an on-deck area of 10’ x 10’.


Storage Area: If there is not sufficient space to have an on-deck area for each participant, it will be necessary for the host to provide storage areas. The storage area will be repository for all materials that will be placed in the on-deck area at the appropriate time.  It will be necessary to move material to the on-deck area prior to performance.  The storage area may be any size or shape; it must hold everything that will ultimately go in the on-deck area and must be of an appropriate size to accommodate the production stored within it. 


If the storage areas are in close proximity to the playing area, set-up and strike may take place from the storage areas, but they must then meet the on-deck specifications.  If the storage areas are removed from the playing area or different groups’ storage areas are at significantly different distances from the playing area, the scenery may be moved to a more convenient on-deck prior to the 10-minute set-up.


Companies must follow the festival venue’s rules governing the use of weapons, pyrotechnics, and special effects. While the host facility should publish the necessary rules, it is ultimately the responsibility of the performing company to confirm whether or not a specific item is permissible. Safety procedures and established policies of the host theatre must be followed at all times.


Each production is allowed a maximum ten minute set-up time and ten minute strike time.  When ready, the company spokesperson will signal the festival stage manager (or the designee) who will announce “go” loudly enough for all timing personnel to hear. The timing will begin at that point, and the company will proceed with the set-up.  The company is allowed to ask timers how much time remains in the set-up or strike period.  When finished, the company may assemble as determined by the company and the company spokesperson will again signal the festival stage manager who will announce, “stop.” At this point, no other action may take place on stage until the start of the performance.  After the performance, the strike will proceed in the same manner.  Note: This is a change from previous cycles in that personnel need not gather in or near the on-deck area before and after set-up or before and after strike.  This is now at the discretion of the performing company. 


Light and sound operators may begin the setup period in their respective operations areas and remain there at the end of set-up, and need not join the rest of the company during or after strike.  However, any lighting and/or sound checks must be conducted within the 10-minute set-up time.  


It is the responsibility of the company to ensure the stage floor is left in the same or better condition than it was when the set-up began, including wet mopping, if necessary.  Nothing may be placed on the stage floor that cannot be adequately removed within the allotted strike time. Care should be taken not to disturb succeeding shows’ spike tape.  Spike tape will not be removed by the company during strike. 


The production process (set-up, performance, strike) should continue without significant delay until complete.  Individual productions may hold for any unused set-up time.


Should a production exceed any time limits, the performance will not be stopped nor will an announcement be made. Adjudicators will comment as scheduled.  Timekeepers will notify the Festival Commission Representative who will disqualify the company from selection to proceed.


Immediately after the strike, company members are usually seated in the front rows in the auditorium for the adjudication. 

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