What adjudicators are looking for

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Welwyn Drama Festival employs members of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators to judge its festival, and a specific marking scheme is used to consider each production under the following four headings:


In this section, all visual and design elements are considered.  Set, costume (including hair and make-up), lighting, sound and other media (if used) – all contribute to the marks given here.  Not only will the initial impact be considered, but also how far these elements contribute to the interpretation of the text, whether they enhance meaning, create atmosphere and so on.  Effective or creative use of the technical rig offered and effective cueing are vital if top marks are to be awarded.  Opening sequences are of tremendous importance in setting style and reassuring the audience they are in safe hands; similarly, final moments at the end of each act can make or mar a production, and again, done well, will ensure top marks are possible.

The Welwyn Drama Festival values the importance of presentation, and offers a one-hour technical rehearsal to all teams during which its experienced crew will try to help and advise (where necessary) the director how to get the best from the facilities available.  An award is given for the best use of stage and technical facilities.

A maximum of 15 marks are awarded in this section.


This section assesses the impact of all decisions made – presumably by the director.  Has the text been understood?  Are the opening moments assured and effective?  Has the style been set well and is it appropriate?  Is the text and action shaped properly?  Is the stage positioning good?  How is the company managing any transitions?  Do the characters and does the plot develop properly?  Are the high spots evident and made significant?  Is the ensemble work (where this is a feature) well-managed and creative?  Is there a sense of drive and purpose in the production?

The highest marks are always given to those productions where all elements of production work in harmony with all elements of design – each enhancing the others within an appropriate interpretation and realisation of the text.  Accomplished performances by actors who clearly understand their role in bringing this text to life are all attributed, in part at least, to an effective production.

A maximum of 35 marks are given to this category.


Performances, individual and ensemble, are considered here.  Firstly, individual vocal skills are rewarded.  Movement, gesture and physicalisation of the role are credited and these are the building blocks of a good performance.  Characterisation and character development are looked for, and to get the highest marks, these must be convincing and sustained.  The best actors will know how to work their audience to ensure that the play makes its point – whatever that is.  Finally, the general ensemble work – the support between all the players, the understanding between them and the impact created as a whole will be considered.

A maximum of 40 marks are given in this category.

Dramatic Achievement (Endeavour, Originality and Achievement)

The overall impact of the production will be considered here and this mark is very often a summary mark which encapsulates the effectiveness of the production as a whole.  It is unlikely to be a surprise or set at a different level from the rest of the marks because it does take into account all the other elements.  Occasionally, great effort is recognised here where it is seen, and this can have the effect of increasing the mark, but more often, it turns out to be about 10% of the total gained overall.

A maximum of 10 marks are awarded here.

Jan Palmer Sayer  GoDA