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One-Act Play Readies for a New Year with Facebook, Rule Changes, Proposals

By Luis Muñoz, Theatre Director | Monday, August 27, 2012 1:49 PM

Welcome back!  The staff at UIL hope you had a wonderful summer break and are ready to get started on some new adventures.

As we approach the school year, it will be important that you prepare yourself with good information. One of the “GREAT!” things I discovered last March was the Facebook page “UIL One-Act Play Directors” created by Tisa Whitfill. Its membership has increased from 39 when I first saw it to 600 today.

The lively and useful exchanges about play titles, curriculum needs and general “swap-shopping” is wonderful to watch. Make a point of becoming a member.

I try to post update messages and post real-time results from Area and Region contests, but I refuse to answer any questions that involve rule interpretations or opinions. We still do those by snail mail, phone and e-mail — these days in the reverse order of what I just listed.

Also check out Darve Smith’s “Texas Theatre Exchange,” TETA’s “Texas Educational Theatre Association,” Thespians’ “Texas Thespians” and, of course, the UIL’s own page, “University Interscholastic League.” 

So many things have changed since I came to UIL 10 years ago. Technology can be an enigma. It is a two-headed monster that is both exhilarating and frightening. As we continue to be hurled into constant change and transformation, we must embrace not only the technological changes but the very core of what we learned as theatre artists: improvise, adapt and survive.

In Memoriam
I regret to inform you that we lost three of our colleagues this summer. Marilyn Miller, Fred March and Gary Burton will be missed by all whose lives they touched. The League offers its condolences to family and friends.

Make sure that you have the 19th edition of the Handbook for One-Act Play. There have been various changes to the rules for 2012-13. These can be downloaded from our website. The addendum can be found at the “Resources and Forms” link on the Theatre page.
Rule Changes in Effect 2012-13
1. Ladders shall not be used to elevate actors in any fashion other than in its intended upright position and supported by the floor or unit set.
2. Live music used onstage, whether instrumental or vocal, if plot-driven or specifically prescribed by the playwright does not require League approval.
3. The following items no longer require League approval if text‐driven and within the size limitations found on the charts found in the Handbook: wheelchairs, real or prop pianos, wells, carts and wagons.
4. The 60-second limit for blackouts, scene changes and stopping the action of the play has been eliminated. However, those moments continue to count towards the 40-minute time limit.

Proposed Rule Changes for 2013-14
The UIL Academic Committee voted on the following amendments to the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules this summer. They will be presented to the Legislative Council for approval on October 21-22, 2012. Some of these are major changes and will have a significant impact on UIL OAP.

Proposal 1 - The proposal would create a scale of penalties for rules violations in the One-Act Play Contest. Entries could still be disqualified for violations regarding the number in the performing company, time limits on performance and set-up and strike, the use of firearms, explosives and combustible materials, off-stage to on-stage prompting, use of additional unit set and the director being in the backstage areas or making contact with or communicating with the company during performance. Violations of other rules would be considered ethical violations/unsportsmanlike conduct and sent to the appropriate executive committee.

Proposal 2 - The UIL would pilot a contest in student short-film production. The entries would be mailed to the League and evaluated at a central location. A film festival screening the top picks would be scheduled at a venue in Austin. Attendance by competing teams would not be mandatory.

Proposal 3 - A request for Architectural Necessity will no longer be required. If the location has an apron deeper than 12’ or the depth at the center line of the apron is greater than the depth of the house, you may set in front of the curtain. This does not imply the use of an open curtain for setup.

Proposal 4 - The contest manager shall complete the online rules compliance program prescribed by UIL prior to officiating any level of OAP competition.

Proposal 5 - This amendment to 1033(c)(2)(F)(i-v) simplifies the set rules and allows for easier management of the contest. The rules still observe the standards of equity and safety but allow more flexibility and creativity on the part of the company and easier enforcement for the contest officials.

  • i) A number of portable lighting instruments or projection devices that may be used is increased to six. Static gobos may be used without restriction as to number. If hand-held, used on the floor or on a light stand not exceeding 1’ in height, they may be used in front of the curtain.
  • ii) 160 square feet of soft goods/cloth-type trim elements may used. A single piece is still limited to 8’X10’ but the other restrictions have been eliminated.
  • iii) Bases may be used on unit set pylons. They shall not exceed more than one foot in any direction from the edge of the pylon. Extensions attached to or supported by the bases become part of the base. The bases shall not elevate the unit set.
  • (v) The width of fence and railing has been increased from six to eight inches. Although no one section shall exceed 8’, you may attach two or more sections to create a single 12’ section.

Proposal 6 – This proposal came from Aimee Kaspryzk at Ennis High School. “Presently, the rule for requesting additions to set, asking for approvals, etc., has a deadline of Dec. 21. Many times, though, issues crop up that need something(s) to be changed that cannot be anticipated prior to the December deadline because the process of production dictates them. I propose that UIL offer a way to allow needed changes that were not originally anticipated to gain approval after the December deadline. UIL can impose either a single fee (like the fee that exists now) or a schedule of fees set up to be paid based on whether it is a set, prop, or other need, along with a definite written justification for allowing other changes that become apparent after the present deadline. The fee(s) would help to keep an abuse of this ability from occurring, but yet, they would allow for needed items to be changed, especially where safety needs are concerned.”

Proposed for 2013-14
This rule change would increase the number of participating schools advancing from each level of competition from two to three. Two plays would continue to advance from region to state. This would necessitate the creation of a bi-district level of competition. The intent of this change is two-fold. First, it would allow more schools and their communities to be involved in post-district competition. The enrollment in this contest has almost doubled since the change was made to allow two schools to advance almost 40 years ago.

Travel costs should go down as the first post-district contest would be closer geographically and the fact that the districts in each bi-district alignment would take turns hosting the contest. Attendance at the contests and support for theatre programs should increase due to the geographic advantages.

The number of areas would be reduced by 33 percent and would become more centrally located. I would love your feedback on this one.