High School Drama Competitions

High School Drama Competitions#1
Posted: 11/19/09 at 8:47pm
I just recently took on a job directing a musical at a high school in PA after the long-time director retired during the summer. The music/choral director is INSISTING that we participate in the Freddy Awards. I am very wary about these so-called "high school award" programs, because I feel that they take some of the joy out of doing a musical "for the fun of it". My music director, who is officially not an administrator who rates my teaching skills, nevertheless wields alot of influence in the school. On my side, however, some of the parents and the principal question the value of such awards.

The reason I want to avoid this situation is (1) A friend of mine several years ago directed a production of "My Fair Lady" in Bergan County, NJ, which was reviewed by the Paper Mill Playhouse for their "Rising Star Awards". It was the first time the school had participated in the competition and the reviews were tough, but positive. Two weeks after the reviews came in, the music adminstrator convinced the principal to fire my friend. He believes it was due to the "average" rating the school got. (2) Some of the parents are afraid that only the "seniors" will get leading roles, not the best players.

I remember participating in Thespian festivals, band festivals and receiving comments and some trophies, but now the feeling is "go out and win, no matter who you hurt in the process". Thats fine in the professional world, but I tink it needs to be avoided in school.

Any comments?
re: High School Drama Competitions#2
Posted: 11/21/09 at 12:43pm
I disagree with some of your comments. I graduated high school last year, and I participated in the MHSGDG (Massachusetts High School Drama Guild) Festival for a couple of years, and it's by far my best memory of high school. Competing at the highest level, and actually winning the festival was just the best feeling in the world. The students love it, and it only motivates them to work harder. And seeing that large range of theatre is a really good experience for them as well. It doesn't take the fun out of it, but only adds to the fun. I made friends going to the festivals, and I loved the competition so much, I'm coming back as a production assistant for my high school this year.
re: High School Drama Competitions#2
Posted: 11/21/09 at 9:53pm
The MHSGDG (Massachusetts High School Drama Guild) Festival, is that a one-act festival or full-scale musical competition? Just curious...
re: High School Drama Competitions#3
Posted: 11/27/09 at 8:44pm
Competing at the highest level, and actually winning the festival was just the best feeling in the world.

Needless to say, you got a good experience out of it. However, what about the rest of the kids?

I feel that high school drama is already competitive/touchy enough. It just adds even more stress by participating in a competition. Obviously, some people will win and feel great. But for others who worked equally hard and just didn't end up placing high will feel dejected.

Unlike instrumental music or sports, I feel that being in drama gets so much more emotional, based on my personal/other people's experience. People judging your acting, per say, is so much scarier than people judging your piano playing skills or baseball batting averages. (However, I probably am biased since I belong on BWW.) High school is already a sensitive confusing time for many of us.
Updated On: 11/27/09 at 08:44 PM
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re: High School Drama Competitions#4
Posted: 11/27/09 at 11:17pm
With kids these days, everyone wants to be famous. Everyone wants to be on Broadway, on TV, on film and kids these days are trying so hard at a young age because of the media. All the girls want to be the next Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus all those Disney pop princesses but in all reality, there is a 1/1000 chance that will ever happen.

My friend, Ashley from college has a 12 year old sister who has tried out for Disney god knows how many times but it most likely happen.

It's almost like a double edged sword. While, I do agree that high school musicals are usually put on for fun but the ______ awards give some kids the chance to shine, and who knows one of those kids could land in their performing medium(stage, screen, television. And in this world, everyone is trying to upstage each other while others are doing it for fun.

Now, some people with the egos of Greenland need to realize that they won't be famous and some will just live regular lives, and those, who at the end of the day, will be crying.

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re: High School Drama Competitions#5
Posted: 1/21/10 at 10:31pm
Y'know, you just read my mind, AlfieByrne, when I think back to my drama experiences in HS--a "touchy" subject I plan to discuss soon. It's just so subjective, emotional, and often at times, there's such a pecking order in the students based on who's there and who gets the meaningful experience (also very true in sports and instrumental music, though there's something concrete in those areas). Those who battle to even join the ranks struggle. In my case, we did not participate in high school comps for the record at the time. And that is one reason out of reason, I detest my high school to this day.

Partly because of this, I get a little angry seeing many kids wishing to be famous, worshipping at the golden calf of celebrity, without thinking about it.
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re: High School Drama Competitions#6
Posted: 1/22/10 at 6:27pm
I think some directors worry about their reputation more than the students having fun or learning something. My HS choir director would remind us that we were in her choir and her choirs got superior ratings. I didn't matter. It sure took the fun out of things.
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re: High School Drama Competitions#7
Posted: 1/23/10 at 10:23pm
Wow, I'm glad my school isn't that competitive. I mean, our musicals are considered for the Cappies every year and our concert choir and concert band go to the Heritage Festival every year. Our directors are not overly competitve, thank God. In fact, the day after the Cappies came to our production of Urinetown, they had released their Critics' Choice list for us on their website. I brought my computer the next day, showing the cast the good news, and my director practically chewed me out, saying it's not good to do so, since there were people in the cast who got on the list, and there were people in the cast who weren't. She said that it wasn't good to flaunt it.

It's a shame when some people make it all about the competition. It should just be about the art.

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re: High School Drama Competitions#8
Posted: 8/22/10 at 7:03pm
Why don't you ask your students how they feel about competing? I just graduated from high school this year, and my experiences with our state's high school musical theatre awards were amazing. All of the students were more motivated to do well in the show because they knew they were going to be judged, but we never sacrificed fun for awards. Our entire cast happily accepted the challenges of being judged, and our musical this year was the best show we've done in years. So instead of assuming that they're a bunch of angsty, mentally unstable kids who can't take a little judgement, why don't you just ask the students if they want to participate in the awards? I'm sure the answers will be overwhelmingly positive.

And I don't know anyone in our theatre department who wants to be famous. Only two of our seniors this year are majoring in performance, and we're both excited to be starving local actresses.
re: High School Drama Competitions#9
Posted: 9/19/10 at 12:40pm
The experiences at these events can be memorable, at the least, and life-altering at the best.

There's a new documentary called MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS that looks at the Freddy Awards and makes a great case as to the importance of such events for the survival of arts education and the wonderful impact it has on students.

Here's the link:


Updated On: 9/19/10 at 12:40 PM


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