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Production Responses and Responsibilities

Respondent Responsibilities

Before Response

1. As soon as you receive confirmation of an assigned response, contact the director:

Alert them of the date of your attendance and response. If you have some flexibility with dates, ask which date works best. Some shows sell out quickly. 

You may also ask for an extra ticket if you want to take someone with you. 

Ask for directions to the theatre and information about where to park. 

Double-check curtain time. Sometimes there’s a change from the entry form listing. 

Exchange cell phone numbers with the director to provide contact in case of emergency.

Be sure to inform the director about eligibility requirements for Irene Ryan nominees: 6 semester hours for under-graduates and 3 for graduates.

You may also need e-mail addresses for stage managers or student directors for the report form.

Ask if there are any special circumstances that would warrant sharing the one-hour response time with special guests. For example: dignitaries, subject experts, elders, representatives and/or leaders in the community.

Inquire about and prepare for any special focuses to the production (e.g. Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC); women’s issues; LGBTQA; issues of social justice, etc.). Do the research and be prepared to discuss these special focuses if appropriate.

Given KCACTF’s initiative to cultivate, nurture, and celebrate diversity and inclusivity, ask if a student-shared response is more appropriate for this particular production. By “student-shared,” the time would be shared with the respondent, with the respondent deciding how much student input is appropriate. 

2. Be prepared academically, mentally, and physically for the response. Read or peruse the play and background information ahead of time. You may request a draft of a new play.

The Day of the Response

  1. Arrive in plenty of time for the production.
  2. Upon arrival, check in at the box office. Identify yourself as the KCACTF respondent.
  3. The stage manager or director will tell you where and when the response will take place. You may be asked to wait for actors to get out of costume.
  4. Check that the KCACTF logo and statement appear on the program. This is required inthe program for every show that the school enters.

During the Show

1. Be professional during the performance. Do not make comments or draw attention to yourself.

2. Avoid excessive note-taking. Detailed notes are actually director rather than respondent notes. Groups can unusually handle three to four points per show. Don’t be afraid of responding without notes. 

3. Take notes in sections:

a. Playwright – challenges of the script

b. Actors

c. Designers

d. Director

e. Note potential scenes to invite to festival

4. Be sure to note the time for the start and finish of the show and the length of intermission. You will need the running time when you write your report.

During the Response

1. Time structure: A good length for a response session is one hour. Your humanity is your best resource. Let the format of the response grow out of you and be faithful to the creative process of the company. (See “student-shared” responses note above. Also see “Important Files for Every Respondent,” Guidelines for the Assessment of Participating and Associate Productions Judith Royer’s SOME Nuts and Bolts THOUGHTS ABOUT THE ART AND CRAFT of the CRITICAL RESPONSE and Ronald A. Willis’ Tenets of Responses and Performance Criticism Training

2. Feel free to begin informal interactions with students as they enter the space. Select words and behavior that promote an atmosphere of receptiveness and mutual respect. (See “A Typical Response Introduction) 

3. Briefly introduce yourself—there’s no need to impress the group with your experience or credentials.

4. Be sure to talk about the mission of KCACTF to celebrate student work and to offer challenges for further growth.

5. Also talk briefly about the Festival. Share the handout: “Student Opportunities at Festival.” Mention KCACTF’s initiative toward greater diversity and inclusivity in student participants and productions. Because the school has entered a show, any student may participate in a wide range of disciplines at festival. Invite students to investigate these opportunities. Guidelines are available on the website for each of the other student opportunities. Highlight these two resent changes:

Any playwright at the school may enter 2 ten-minute, 2 one-act, and 2 full-length plays in the Michael Kanin categories they fit.

Any student designer of any show may enter designs at Festival after filling out an Intent to Participate Form available on the regional website.

6. Let the performance team know that we as respondents do not have all the answers. We are one set of eyes coming in from outside. Advise students not to make any changes without consulting the director, who always has the final say.

7. Respond to all elements of the production, including design. Make special note of productions that work toward diversity and inclusivity. Always try to use the “three-positive-points-to-one-challenge” model for all elements of your response. If you need assistance in responding to design elements, refer to the “Response to Design Elements” document in the “Production Responses” section of the regional website.

a. For the overall show, offer 3 celebrations and 1 challenge.

b. For each individual company member, offer 3 celebrations and 1 challenge.

8. Let students know their efforts were worthy of our attention. Especially encourage those students who are assisting in KCACTF’s initiative toward greater diversity and inclusivity. Students should leave the response feeling that their hard work has paid off. Also give one or two challenges for the students’ future growth. (See Sid Friedman’s Responses Should Be…Responses Should Not Be… and Examples of Responses)

After the Response

1. Speak to the director in private about: 

Irene Ryan Nominations— a total of two for Associate entries, three for Participating.

Meritorious Achievement Awards. This is for people who go above and beyond in the collaborative process. Generally there are no more than two per show, but you can send additional Meritorious Achievement Awards to the Regional Chair. Students eligible for other awards in acting or design should not be given Meritorious Achievement Awards. Consider Meritorious Achievement awards for individuals or ensembles that address social justice, diversity, and inclusivity in a notable way.

Remind directors that they can nominate their stage manager for the Student Stage Manager’s Award. There is a box on the Response Form that you check if the director plans to nominate the stage manager, and you include his/her name and e-mail address.

If the production features student directors, you will also need their e-mail addresses. 

Consult with the director if you feel a particular scene might be a strong Festival “Invited Scenes” entry. In the report, describe and evaluate the scene. Report the director’s willingness to bring the scene if it is selected. Please include the director’s cell phone number.

2. If you are asked to write a letter of support for any person or theatre program on the basis of this response, we recommend that you respectfully decline. If you do write a letter, you must clearly understand that you do not represent the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. You are responsible for any legal ramifications.

3. If the production is a good example of the KCACTF’s initiative toward greater diversity and inclusivity, consider writing a letter as a respondent to the director, department chair, etc., advocating for more of these kinds of productions. Again, if you do write a letter, you do not represent KCACTF and you are responsible for any legal ramifications.

4. Please submit your online report within 3-4 days of seeing the performance. You will find the “Respondent Report” form at under the “Respondents” button near the top right of the home page. Schools are anxious to receive their Irene Ryan nominations, and that happens only after you submit your report.

Please note that there is a box in the Response Form that reads, “Please provide feedback regarding the production and response session here.” Please write a brief description of the production approach and a summary of positive elements, as well as the challenges you shared in the verbal response with the production team. These reports prove critical in the final selection process of shows invited to Festival. (See “Example of a ‘Brief Written Summary.’”)


Fill out a complete date, with month, day, and year. 

Enter the correct circuit name from the drop-down box.

Fill in the complete school name from the drop-down box.

Please do not use ALL CAPS in filling out the Response Form.

5. If you have driven 100 miles (one way) to the response, you may receive reimbursement for mileage and/or lodging expenses only if you get pre-authorization from the regional chair. Make the circuit coordinator aware of your need when you accept the assignment. To receive reimbursement, go to, click on the “Respondents” button, and then on “Expense Report.”

Next step on Respondent Workshop training: Navigate the website and go through the “Respondent Report” together.

Response Structures

  • 5 minutes Introduction – Thank them for inviting you to respond.
  • Give them background information about KCACTF – Inform them about Regional Festival.
  • 1-2 minutes Lead Line (“Hook”)
  • 2-3 minutes Explain how your response is structured
  • 15 minutes Overall General Response
  • 30 minutes Cast/Crew/Production Personnel
  • 5 minutes Conclusion – Thank them for allowing you to see the show