NCTC High School Play Festival

Regional Festivals: October 26-27, November 2-3, 2018

State Festival: November 15-16, 2018

The NCTC High School Play Festival program begins in the fall, with 8 Regional Festivals. 2 plays from each of the Regional Festivals advance to the NCTC State High School Play Festival, which is affectionately known as the “State Football Championships of Theatre.” The top 2 shows at the State Festival go on to a national Festival.

The Festival showcases the talent of more than 3,000 students from 100+ schools, in nearly 130 productions. At the NCTC Festival, schools from all across the state come together to share their talents and celebrate their collective achievements. The program was named one of the “Top High School Theatre Festivals” by Stage Directions Magazine, is the largest high school theatre event in the Southeast, and has been replicated in 9 other states.

The basic premise of the Festival is that schools load-in their set into a backstage area that is approximately 10’x10′, before taking the stage to perform their play. Students have 45 minutes to tell their story and leave the stage completely clear. Following their performance, students receive verbal and written feedback from industry experts. When not performing, students watch performances from other schools, learn from their peers and make new theatre friends. You can read more about Festival preparation and rules here.

At the end of the two-day Festival, numerous awards are presented in an exciting ceremony that celebrates the achievements of all participants. You can read more about awards and adjudication here.

Though the NCTC Play Festival is somewhat competitive, our goals are to showcase theatre programs and give students a nurturing environment to improve their work. More importantly though, the Festival platform allows teachers to fulfill the NC Essential Standards for Theatre Arts, through an exciting, hands-on learning experience.

In the Play Festival rehearsal process, students use movement, voice, and writing to communicate ideas and feelings (I.C.1). Students are taught to understand how to design technical theatre components, such as costumes, sets, props, makeup, lighting, and sound, when they design and construct the production design elements for their Festival show (I.AE.1). At the NCTC Festival, students use performance to communicate ideas and feelings (I.C.2).

By watching performances from other schools, students develop critical thinking skills and learn to understand the traditions, roles, and conventions of theatre as an art form (I.CU.2).  At the Festival, young artists analyze theatre in terms of the social, historical, and cultural contexts in which it was created (I.CU.1). The opportunity to vote on one of the winning shows encourages students to thoughtfully study and analyze literary texts and performances of their fellow theatre artists (I.A.1).

In addition to these essential lessons, students receive valuable feedback from industry experts which helps to improve the quality of theatre programs in schools across the state and encourages students to strive for excellence.

The Play Festival can seem complicated and overwhelming at first, but we are here to help. If you are a new participant this year and have any questions, please contact us and we will talk you through the process and can even connect you with an experienced teacher to serve as your mentor in your first year. Email Executive Director Angie Hays at

New teachers are eligible for a 50% discount on Play Festival registration. 

October 27-28, 2017

Catawba College – sold out!

Kings Mountain High School – sold out!
Kings Mountain

Rocky River High School – sold out!
Mint Hill

Union Pines High School – sold out!

November 3-4, 2017

Gardner-Webb University – sold out!
Boling Springs

Washington High School – sold out!

Watauga High School

Weaver Academy – sold out!

State Festival: November 16-17, 2017

Greensboro College

Statewide Sponsors

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.