Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild

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The Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild, commonly known as METG and previously known as the Massachusetts High School Drama Guild until its name changed in 2010[1] is, according to their website, an organization "for the charitable and educational purpose of promoting and strengthening excellence, access, and education in the theatrical arts for middle and secondary school students and teachers." Each year the METG organizes the state-wide high school theatre festival in March, as well as several other programs throughout the year.

The original Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild began in 1931 with the establishment of “Massachusetts Drama Day.” Four schools participated in the original competition, which was held at the old Huntington Chambers building in Copley Square in Boston. With that festival, the Massachusetts High School Drama Guild (MHSDG) was established. In the 1940s, the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators Association became the educational sponsor of the state event. The year 1954 marked the beginning of two important corporate partnerships with the Guild: The Boston Globe became the lead patron, and John Hancock Hall became one of the Festival’s sponsors. It was also in this year that the Festival was relocated to John Hancock Hall in the Back Bay Events Center, where it has remained ever since. In 1989 the Guild’s horizons expanded with incorporation as a nonprofit organization. During the 1998-1999 school year, the Massachusetts Middle School Drama Festival, Inc. and the Massachusetts High School Drama Guild, Inc. merged. Since then the Guild has increased its membership to over 160 schools across the Commonwealth.[2]

In 2010, the membership voted to rename the organization The Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild (METG) to better reflect its mission. The METG enjoys the continued support of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Arts Lottery Councils from member schools’ cities and towns.

In 2012, through the generous support of Broadway In Boston, the METG announced a new education project which offers both middle and high school members an opportunity to bring experienced adjudicators into their theaters where they will receive professional feedback on their hard work creating musical theater productions. The participating students and teachers benefit from the educational expertise, vital to improving their program. A MET MUSICAL AWARDS ceremony at the end of each season recognizes student excellence across several performance, design, and production categories.[3]

A recent METG Festival entry.

High School festival[edit]

The Massachusetts State Drama Festival takes place over the course of the month of March, in the state of Massachusetts. Any school may enter, provided the play they intend to perform is approved by the principal of the performing school and the entry form is submitted to the METG. There are three levels of competition: preliminary, semi-final, and state.

Festival rules[edit]

Some of the rules include:[4]

  • No play may run for more than 40 minutes (timed by three "timers"; the shortest time is accepted as the running time).
  • No play may involve a set-up time or strike time of more than five minutes (timed by the Technical Director of the host site).
  • All rules of the host site apply.
  • Each play must be approved by the principal of the presenting school.
  • Schools may not perform shows that were performed the year before at the State Finals.
  • Schools may not perform any play they have performed in the past three years.
  • Schools may not perform a musical of any kind, unless given permission by the playwright to perform the piece without the musical/singing component. However, a school may include live music, vocal and/or instrumental, if given previous permission from the METG.

Preliminary round[edit]

All schools are placed into preliminary host sites around the state. From each site, three schools are chosen to move on to the semi-final round. There is a "1st place," "2nd Place," and "3rd Place", however the rank of a school is only disclosed to the committee which assigns schools to semi-final sites. This phase of the festival takes place over the course of a Saturday, usually the first weekend in March.

Semi-Final Round[edit]

The winners of the preliminary round are placed in the seven semi-final host sites. From each site, two schools are chosen to move on to state finals at the Back Bay Events Center. Again, there is a 1st and 2nd place winner, however the rank of a school is not disclosed, except to the committee, which meets to select time slots for state finals. As with the preliminary round, the semi-final takes place on a Saturday, one week after the preliminary round.

State Finals[edit]

The 14 winners from semi-final level are brought to the Back Bay Events Center in Boston for a weekend of one-act plays. This round of the festival is held on the last weekend in March from Thursday through Saturday. There, three winners are chosen to represent Massachusetts at the New England Drama Festival. If any of the three winning schools cannot attend the New England Drama Festival, they will be replaced by the alternate winner. In the event that the three winners and the alternate cannot attend, which was most recently the case in the 2008 festival, the next two schools ranked after the first alternate are selected to attend the regional festival. Like the two previous rounds of competition, the rank of a school is not disclosed, unless they are declared the winner, alternate, or additional alternate. The State Finals event is accompanied by a "Festival Video" (a montage of clips shot throughout the three days) that directly precedes the awards ceremony.

State Finalists for the 2013 Drama Festival[edit]

(In order of appearance)

  • Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School — Static (original)
  • Newburyport High School — Dog Sees God
  • Acton-Boxborough Regional High School — The Filmmaker's Mystery
  • Westford Academy — Sonia Flew (Winner)
  • Wilmington High School — Still Falls the Rain (original)
  • Bourne High School — The Children's Hour (Winner)
  • Chelmsford High School — Sarut de Morte
  • Framingham High School — Dark of the Moon
  • Weston High School — Jigsaw (original)
  • Manchester-Essex Regional High School — WASP
  • Leominster High School — Charlotte's Web
  • St. John's Preparatory School — Metamorphoses (Winner)
  • Shrewsbury High School — What I Did Last Summer
  • Brockton High School — The Medicine Man


For Drama Festival 2014, none of these shows may be performed by any school in the Guild, nor can they be performed by the presenting school for the next three years.

State Finalists for the 2012 Drama Festival[edit]

(In Order Of Appearance)

  • Framingham High School – The Shadow Box
  • Shrewsbury High School – Dancing at Lughnasa
  • The Bromfield School – Love in the Twilight Zone (Original)
  • Westford Academy – The Hairy Ape (Winner)
  • Danvers High School - Medea
  • Andover High School – Epic Proportions
  • St. John’s Preparatory School – Macbeth (Winner)
  • Holliston High School – Humans
  • Peabody Veterans’ Memorial High School – Alchemy of Desire/Dead Man’s Blues (Winner)
  • Acton Boxboro Regional High School – Fuenteovejuna
  • Chelmsford High School- The 39 Steps
  • Joseph Case High School – Circus Fire
  • Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School – Making Sense (Original)
  • St Mary’s High School – The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon


All Star Company[edit]

Each year at the State Finals, the METG gives awards to members of what is called the All Star Company. Each school participating in finals will have at least one member of the All Star Company, named for excellence in categories including acting, make-up design, ensemble acting, lighting design, sound design, costume design, hair design, properties design, set design, technical design, music design, stage management and directing.

Drama Festival History[edit]

Since 1928, 64 schools have won the Drama Festival's top prize. St. John's Preparatory School has won 16 times with three alternates, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School is second with 15 wins and three alternates, and Revere is third with 11 wins and no alternates. The first drama festival took place over a single day and featured four schools. Since then, the festival has grown to 120 schools in 2008.

Other Programs[edit]

Middle School Festival[edit]

The middle school festival is similar to the high school festival, in that schools are scattered to various host sites throughout the day. However, there is only one round of competition, and from each host site "gold", "silver", and "bronze" places are awarded. This program is more recent, starting in 1995.

Logo Design Contest[edit]

Each year, the METG chooses a new logo to represent the high school festival on T-shirts, programs, etc. Logos are submitted by students from member schools. The 2013 winner was Edward Hernon, from Norwood High School.

2007's Logo Contest Winner

Set Design Contest[edit]

Students from member schools may submit models and sketches of set designs for various shows to be judged. Winners receive a scholarship from the METG. This program usually takes place in the winter months. The 2013 winner was Stacey Fair, from The Bromfield School for The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Costume Design Contest[edit]

The METG runs a costume design contest, where aspiring costumers can design a set of costumes for a show to be judged. Winners receive a cash prize from the METG and have their costumes displayed at finals of the Massachusetts State Drama Festival. The 2013 winner was Katie Boyd, from Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School for I Capture the Castle.

Monologue Contest[edit]

Each year the METG offers students a chance to earn college scholarships based on presentation and performance. Students perform two contrasting monologues at a designated school in winter, where the winners are chosen. Top finishers perform their monologues at the state finals in late March. The 2013 winners were Janelle Yull, from North Reading High School; Olivia Wiles, from Framingham High School; and Kay Kelley, from Wellesley High School.

Playwriting Contest[edit]

Aspiring playwrights must submit their original plays to the METG by December. These plays will be reviewed by a panel of judges, and the chairperson of the playwriting committee, Chris Lacy, will choose a winning play. The winning playwright receives a cash prize and a staged reading at the state finals in March/April. Our sponsor JAC Publishing and Promotions may also publish the winning play. The 2014 winners were Nate Krieger and Gus Viveiros from the Boston Latin School with 'Dangerstone'.

Scene Partner Contest[edit]

Students in grades 9–11 can enter this contest, where scene partners present a three-minute excerpt from a play to a panel of adjudicators. Applicants are judged on the basis of their ability to demonstrate concentration, control of material, flexibility and versatility of voice, movement and expression. Both actors should pursue strong, clear objectives and make varied and specific acting choices. The 2013 winners were Colin McIssac & Rachel Tils, from The Commonwealth School.

Workshops[edit]

The METG also offers workshops for students and teachers throughout the year. Topics include acting, lighting design, scenic design, costume design, choreography, and improvisation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ MHDSG becomes METG, With the addition of the middle school division a few years ago, the METG successfully expanded its reach to a new population. To be more inclusive of the both the high school and middle school divisions, the membership voted this year to change the name of the organization to the Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ METG High School Festival Form

External links[edit]