YDF Rules

Revised 2021

  1. The Festival is organised annually by the Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival Committee, whose decision in all matters must be accepted as final. The Festival is open to schools, individuals and to  youth organisations and other societies from Hertfordshire and adjoining counties with performers aged up to 21.  Teams may be entered in the Junior Section (all cast members being in school year 10, or below, as at the opening night of the Festival), or in the Senior Section (all cast members being aged under 22 years as at the opening night of the Festival).  There is no lower age limit.  All performers must be amateurs.
  2. Entries must be made on the prescribed form accessed from our website at wgcydf.org here. A copy of the play and an entry fee per play as specified by the Committee must then be sent to the Secretary at the address stated.. No entry fees will be returned after the closing date (unless the Committee find it necessary to refuse an entry or cancel the Festival).
  3. Entries to the competitive Festival must consist of a one-act play, a scripted devised piece, or an extract from a longer play. In the case of extracts, these should be, as regards plot and characterisation, complete in themselves and intelligible to an audience not acquainted with the full play.  The play must occupy at least twenty but not more than fifty minutes in performance.
  4. New for 2022 are two separate, non-competitive sessions during the Festival week. These have different entrance rules as follows .  Entries for our Sunday Cinema should be no longer than 25 minutes.  Entries can be a short film or animation, but should not be a filmed stage production.  Whilst entries will not be part of the main competition, we will present awards.  Entries for our Saturday Shorts should be no more than 8 minutes in length.  Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival will provide a clear stage, with black curtains and 1 basic all over lighting state.  Pieces should be self-contained performances that do not require further technical input from the festival.  Setup for any piece should take no longer than 2 minutes and strike no longer than 1 minute.  No advanced stage time (technical) will be provided for the Saturday   Performances will be adjudicated and awards presented on the final night of the festival.  Any pieces presented either at Sunday Cinema or Saturday Shorts must be with the appropriate permissions in place for all copyrighted work used.
  5. Entrants must obtain permission from the author or author's agent for the performance and must pay any royalty fee in advance. If the text of the play has been altered in any way for the performance, proof of the author's permission for such alteration must be provided and a printed paper copy of the play (with numbered pages) in the final version to be performed must be provided to the Secretary not less than four weeks prior to the beginning of the Festival.  (Note:  It is an infringement of copyright to cut or amend a play without permission, or to make any copy of a published play or part thereof).  Proof of payment and a copy of the licence should be forwarded to the Secretary or Treasurer before the start of the Festival.  A grant, as set out on the entry form, towards the cost of the performance licence may be awarded by the Committee provided the team’s request is given to the Treasurer by no later than 31 March in the year of performance.
  6. Teams are responsible for arranging the correct permission and payment ahead of performances for any interpolated music. The Barn Theatre require the Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival to submit details of all other music used by teams, teams are expected to submit details of all music on the provided form by the dates stipulated on the entry forms and published on our website.
  7. A list of the cast (in order of appearance), the name of the Director, and any other details or information to be published in the programme must be detailed on a Programme Information Form (available from our website here) by 6th February, with any subsequent changes communicated as soon as possible.
  8. The stage plan, lighting plot and Fireproofing Certificate must be submitted to the Stage Manager by 31st January (online form available here).
  9. The Committee will appoint an Official Timekeeper, Lighting and Sound Technicians, and a Stage Director, whose decisions on all backstage matters shall be final and binding on all teams.
  10. For the competitive Festival, a curtain set and lighting equipment will be provided by the Committee (see "Stage, Lighting and Sound Information" for details). Competitors are encouraged to use ingenuity and enterprise in their settings and they are at liberty to adapt the standard curtain set in any manner they desire, provided that the setting can be set and struck within the allotted times.  No scene may take more than ten minutes to set and five minutes to strike.  Teams must provide any flats, scenery, furniture, properties, sound effects, and sources of music that they may require, and all such items must meet the requirements set out in the "Stage Information" issued to competitors.
  11. The Lighting Technician will be responsible for the control of the lighting equipment, under the direction of a designated member of each team. The Director, or a nominated person, must be present in the Control Room (which is situated at the rear of the auditorium, remote from the stage) immediately before and throughout the performance by his team.
  12. It will be the responsibility of each team to discuss their lighting and staging requirements with the Stage Director and Lighting Technician, during the allotted hour of rehearsal time, and to see that scenery is correctly positioned and is set and struck within the allotted times. Each team must provide a Stage Manager, who should be available backstage at the disposal of the Stage Director from at least fifteen minutes before the commencement of the play, throughout its performance, and until the set has been completely cleared from the stage.  (Note:  the Committee is not responsible for the provision of manual assistance for scene-shifting.)
  13. The penalties for not keeping within the allotted time for performance (50 minutes), setting (10 minutes), or striking (5 minutes) shall be as follows:
  • Up to 11/2 minutes over deduction of 1 mark
  • >11/2 – 2 minutes over deduction of 2 marks
  • >2 – 3 minutes over deduction of 4 marks
  • >3 – 4 minutes over deduction of 6 marks
  • >4 – 5 minutes over deduction of 8 marks
  • More than 5 minutes over time Disqualification

Plays which are performed in less than the minimum time of 20 minutes shall be penalised by one mark for every 30 seconds or part thereof under 20 minutes and disqualified if under 17 minutes duration.

  1. The Festival will be judged by an independent Adjudicator whose decision shall be final. The Adjudicator will give his or her criticisms in public during the course of each evening – either at the end, or between plays.  There will a final summing up on the last evening, followed by the awards ceremony.  Written adjudications must be requested and paid for at least one week prior to performance.
  2. Neither the Committee nor the Theatre Licensee and owners accept any responsibility for any damage, personal injury, loss or claim that might arise from any incident occurring during or in connection with the Festival. It is recommended that teams should have an amateur theatrical insurance policy covering standard risks including, but not restricted to, public liability with an indemnity limit of at least £5m.
  3. At the end of the Festival trophies may be awarded for the winning categories. A trophy may, at the discretion of the Committee, be held by a team for the period between Festivals, in which event the team will be responsible for insuring the trophy against loss and accidental damage during that time, and for arranging to have it engraved with their name and the year of it being awarded.   All trophies must be returned to the Secretary at least three weeks prior to the next Festival.
  4. All persons using the Barn Theatre are asked to observe the following conditions laid down by the Theatre Management:
  • Standing or sitting in the gangway is strictly forbidden. Loose chairs or other obstructions must not be placed in the gangways.
  • The local fire regulations forbid smoking in any part of the Theatre, and the use of combustible or flammable materials on stage. All scenery, set dressing and properties must be properly fireproofed, and will be inspected and tested by the Fire Officer.  Any company not clear about this condition should contact the Stage Director for clarification.
  • Companies wishing to smoke, use pyrotechnic devices, strobe lighting, naked flame or smoke machines or any form of real or replica weapons on stage, as an essential part of the action of a play, MUST discuss their requirements with the Stage Director AT LEAST one month prior to the performance date. This condition is to allow sufficient time for a written application to be made to the licensing authority for permission to use the requested effect.  The Stage Director will require full details of the make and model of any equipment to be used, together with an assurance that the operator(s) of such equipment are competent to do so.
  • Drinks taken into the auditorium may not be in glass containers, and alcohol may not be consumed in the dressing rooms, or any of the backstage areas.

The use of video and/or audio recording equipment, including mobile phones, cameras, etc during performances and adjudications is NOT allowed.

Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival commits to respect your privacy and applicable privacy laws. We will only process such information as permitted by the EU General Data Protection Regulation and other applicable local laws as described below.

  1. Legitimate interest notice

What personal data do we, or may we, collect about you?  General personal information: your name, home address, postal address, phone numbers (home and mobile), personal email. We use this information for keeping teams and contestants updated regarding festival information, informing you of festival dates and any other information we feel would be useful to you relating to the festival.

  1. Retention Period

Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival will keep this information, together with details of prizes awarded and points, indefinitely.

  1. Transfer of your personal data

3.1 Access to personal data is limited and will only be allowed on a strict need to know basis. Your personal data will primarily be processed by personnel of the committee, where relevant and necessary. We have taken steps to ensure that there is adequate protection for your personal data in these circumstances.

3.2 Personal data may be shared with government authorities and/or law enforcement officials if required for the purposes above, if mandated by law and if required for the legal protection of Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival legitimate interests in compliance with applicable laws.

3.3 Personal data may also be shared with third party service providers, who will process it on behalf of Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival for the purposes above. Before transferring your personal data to third parties, we take additional security measures to protect your personal data (such as entering into data protection agreements or special amendments to our contracts).

  1. Security measures

4.1 Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival has taken appropriate technical, administrative, physical and procedural security measures, consistent with local and international information practices, to protect the personal data from misuse, unauthorized access or disclosure, loss, alteration, or destruction. These measures include:

  • Physical safeguards, such as locked doors and file cabinets, and secure destruction of media ontaining personal data.
  • Technology safeguards, such as use of anti-virus and endpoint protection software, passwords.
  • Organisational safeguards, our personnel understand the importance and means by which they must protect personal data, as well as through privacy policies and policy standards that govern how Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival treat personal data.

4.2 Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival will process your personal data primarily on the basis of, Art. 6 para. 1 lit. b) and Art. 6 para. 1 lit. f) of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. In exceptional cases, Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival may also process your personal data on the basis of Art. 6 para. 1 lit. a), and lit. c) to e) of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

  1. Your rights

5.1 According to the EU General Data Protection Regulation, you have the right to access, rectify and erase personal data that relates to you and in line with applicable law, to restrict or object the processing of such data. You also have the right to lodge a complaint with a supervising authority. To rectify or request access to your personal data or execute any other of the aforementioned rights please contact secretary@wgcydf.org at any time. There are exceptions to these rights so that access may be denied, for example, if making the information available would reveal personal information about another person or if Welwyn Garden City Youth Drama Festival is legally prevented from disclosing such information

5.2 For questions and concerns you can also contact the secretary@wgcydf.org.

  1. Your obligations

6.1 If you intend to provide us with the personal data of another person (e.g. emergency contacts, etc.), please obtain the explicit and freely given consent of this person before such provision and to its processing.

6.2 It is important that we maintain up to date records of key information on you. Please inform us of any changes in your personal circumstances as soon as they occur (e.g. change of address, phone number etc.). From time to time we may ask you to complete a new form including personal information to ensure our records are up to date.

6.3 Where we require personal data to comply with legal, contractual obligations, then provision of such data is mandatory: if such data is not provided, then we will not be able to manage the relationship or to meet obligations placed on us. In all other cases, provision of requested personal data is optional.

Child Protection Policy Abstract

This document has been prepared as a guide for competing teams, to ensure they understand the Festival’s position, and their own responsibilities, with regard to the topic of Child Protection.

The WGC Youth Drama Festival recognises its duty of care under the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, the Child (Performances) Regulations 1968, the Protection of Children Act 1999 and the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000.

The Festival recognises that abuse can take many forms, whether it be physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. The Festival is committed to practice that protects children from harm.  All members of the Festival accept and recognise their responsibilities to develop awareness of the issues that cause children harm.

The Festival believes that:

  • the welfare of the child is paramount;
  • all children have the right to protection from abuse;
  • all suspicions and allegations of abuse should be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately;
  • all members of the Festival should know how to respond appropriately.

The Festival will ensure that

  • all children will be treated equally and with respect and dignity;
  • the welfare of each child is the first consideration;
  • bullying will not be accepted or condoned;
  • action will be taken to stop any inappropriate verbal or physical behaviour;
  • it is up-to-date with health & safety legislation and policies for the protection of children;
  • it will undertake relevant development and training of its personnel.

The Festival has a dedicated Child Protection Officer, who is in charge of ensuring that the child protection policy and procedures are adhered to.

This policy will be continually monitored by the Festival Committee and will be subject to review.

Competing Teams should be aware that they have the basic chaperoning and ‘in loco parentis’ responsibility for the children in their care. The Festival staff will ensure the environment in which the children change their clothes, relax, and perform, is as safe and comfortable as possible, but are not responsible for monitoring the activities or behaviour of children during their visit to the Festival, nor is the Festival responsible for ensuring children safely return to their homes.   Chaperones and other responsible members of Competing Teams should be aware of the possibility of a mixed-gender team having to use a single dressing room.   Parents of children thus affected should be advised by the Team Leader of this possibility, and the Team Leader must ensure that children in his/her care are properly supervised at all times whilst in the theatre. All members of competing teams are expected to adhere to the health and safety rules and guidelines issued by the Barn Theatre and the Festival Committee.

For both safety and welfare reasons only cast, stage crew and designated chaperones may go backstage at any time. Parents, friends and family who are taking home children who have been performing, should wait for them in the clubroom or in the foyer at the end of the evening.

We are in the process of adapting the below to match our 2021 festival style.
Please check back, in the meantime some of the below might be helpful.


The Festival is held at the Barn Theatre, Handside Lane, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6ST.   The seating capacity is 122, and the stage is approximately 6m (20’) square, with a curtain opening width of 4.6m (15’) reducing upstage to 3.7m (12’), and a working depth of 4.6m (15’).   There are three dressing rooms, which are usually allocated one per team.   Black curtains, as shown on the Stage Plan, define the acting area.   Smoking, except as an essential part of the action of a play (see Rule 15b), is prohibited in all parts of the theatre.


One hour per team is allowed during the weekend preceding the Festival for technical rehearsal on stage.   Competitors should use this opportunity to try out and agree stage settings, and lighting and sound requirements with the Festival technical team.   Teams should therefore ensure they have someone familiar with the lighting and sound cues, and should not expect to have a full rehearsal, since priority must be given to agreeing settings, lights and sound.


Settings should be kept as simple and light as possible, to facilitate speedy erection and striking.   Lighted candles, oil lamps or any highly inflammable substances will not be allowed on the stage, or in any part of the theatre without the permission of the Festival Stage Director, and the written authority of the theatre’s licensee.   Teams are responsible for setting and striking the stage within the maximum times (10mins and 5mins respectively).   Because of the very limited stage entrance sizes, flats should not exceed 3m (10’) high or 1m (3’) wide, and must be fitted with screw eyes to receive standard stage braces.

The space backstage is very limited, and the Festival Stage Director may disallow any item of furniture or scenery considered too large, heavy, cumbersome or unsafe.   The Festival Committee cannot accept responsibility for storage of competitors’ effects and they must be removed from the theatre as soon as the performance is over.


In order for the Festival team to give the best support, it is essential teams submit as detailed a description of their requirements as possible.   Please complete the Lighting and Sound Questionnaire, and the two Stage Plans as fully as possible, showing the main acting areas, position of high and low light concentrations, pin spots, colours, practical properties, etc.   If it is essential the stage be discretely lit in specific areas, please mark them on the lighting Stage Plan.   The more detail shared with the Festival, the easier it will be to help the team achieve their aims.   A numbered cue sheet should also be submitted, giving brief details of each lighting change.

The cyclorama will be lit from overhead LED floods, allowing a wide variety of colours and intensities to be achieved. Please advise in advance the colours you wish to have.  Alternatively, the cyclorama can be obscured with the US black legs.

Time must be allowed at the technical rehearsal to set the lighting to the team’s requirements, and it is not unusual for plays with complicated and/or numerous cues to spend almost all their one hour technical rehearsal time on lighting cues.

A competent team member must be present at the technical rehearsal to advise the Festival staff of precise requirements, and to agree any compromises that may be necessary.   This team member should be present in the Control Room or backstage during the subsequent performance to give the lighting cues.  The Festival staff will do the operation and setting of the lighting equipment.


Comprehensive sound facilities are provided for effects and music reproduction.   Teams should ensure they bring all recorded media to the technical rehearsal, so that volume levels, speaker selection, etc can be agreed.   Operation of the sound equipment is from the Control Room at the rear of the auditorium and is under the supervision of the Festival staff.   Responsibility for all cueing rests with the teams.


All scenery and large properties must be adequately fire-proofed, and a certificate to this effect must be signed by a responsible team official and returned to the Hon Secretary with the Stage Plans and Lighting Questionnaire.    Please contact the Festival Stage Director (details below) if you require any help or guidance on this subject.

Special Effects

Please see Rule 15b regarding the use of pyrotechnic devices, naked flames, strobe lighting, smoke machines and smoking.   Written permission from the local authority takes at least one month, so please discuss your requirements as early as possible.

Please ensure the Questionnaire and Stage Plans are returned promptly, and give adequate contact telephone numbers so that the Festival staff can contact the team’s lighting or sound expert(s) in the case of any queries.   Many thanks

If there are any questions, or if you would like to discuss any aspect of your planned production prior to the Technical Rehearsal, please call the Festival Stage Director, Derek Palmer:

Home: 01992 581375
Mobile: 07860 573896
Email: derek.palmer@wgcydf.org

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