"What Are They Looking For?"

In response to our recent discussion on judging theater, I'm posting the instructions to the VHSL One-Act Competition Judges below. Read On!


a. Characterization: Does the student understand the character? Does he/she portray a unique individual? Is the character believable? Does the actor honestly portray the character without relying on clichéd mannerisms?

Do you see the character rather than the actor? Is there a freshness, immediacy and crispness about this performance, a feeling that these events are happening for the first time? Does the actor have appropriate energy? Does the characterization fit the style or intent of the play?

There are no roles that are inherently taboo for student performers. Students should be commended for trying challenging roles and should not be penalized for attempting roles that are beyond their experience, age or physical appearance. Of the categories under acting, characterization is perhaps the most important.

  • Interpretation: Does the student convey the director’s vision of the script and the characters?

  • Concentration: Does the actor break character or does he/she stay in focus? Does the actor stay within the environment of the play? Does the actor telegraph, i.e., appear to be preparing for his/her next movement, speech, etc.? Do you forget that a student actor is creating the character?

  • Articulation: Can the student be heard and understood? Does he/she utilize appropriate diction and projection?

  • Movement: Is the movement appropriate to the character? Does the student use natural gestures and avoid clichéd and stereotypical movements? Does the actor make you see a person rather than draw attention to technique?

  • Timing: Is the pacing natural? Does it fit the style of the play? Is there honest interaction among characters; is each person in tune with the other characters on stage? Is there variety in the pacing with appropriate builds and valleys? Are actors crisp with coming in on their cues?


Interpretation: Does the director have a clear vision for this play and has he/she employed appropriate techniques to communicate that vision effectively and consistently? Are there effective pauses, builds, climaxes? Has the director demonstrated freshness, originality and creative execution of the script?

Realization of Playwright’s Intent: Does the director establish a clear vision that has unity and that is rooted in the text of the play?

Composition: Has the director made choices that are interesting to view? Does he/she use the movement and placement of actors to create pictures that will effectively communicate his/her vision? Has the stage been used effectively? Is the blocking natural and motivated? Does the blocking distract, or does it support the dynamics of the play and contribute to the director’s goals?


Are students working toward the same goals, with no one person stealing focus? Is there a commitment among the actors toward common goals? Are students more concerned with the play and others on stage than they are with themselves?

a. Tempo: Does the pacing fit the style of the play? Is there variety? Does the tempo move appropriately towards builds, climaxes? Does the play rush? Drag?

#acting #vtageneral

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