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  • Robert Meadows

Young Actor of Mann 2020 Finals

The prospect of some festivals moving online during the Covid 19 Pandemic is both an exciting if daunting prospect, and a real opportunity for GODA Members.

GODA's Robert Meadows adjudicated this year’s finals of the annual Young Actor of Mann online and the following case study provides food for thought for festivals, teams and adjudicators alike.


For 2020 the proposal was that the candidates for the competition would have their performances recorded and sent across to the adjudicator to view and mark.

The performances were recorded and that recording, together with any scripts used, were emailed to the adjudicator who reviewed the performances, recorded feedback and decided upon the winner and runner-up of the competition.

The Task

The task, set by the adjudicator, was designed to open up the possibility for entrants to demonstrate a wider range of theatre-based skills and to draw upon their own creativity. The changes are also intended to enable competitors to be less dependent upon a teacher or performance coach.

The suggested theme was Endings and Beginnings.

Competitors were asked to produce a maximum 10 minute response which could take the form of either:

  • An extract from a published play or song from a musical theatre that relates to the theme (Similar to the approach taken by candidates in the past)

  • A show reel that explores the theme in ways that combines elements of the spoken word with song, movement and or the use multi –media and sensory arts approaches

  • Performance of an original work that is related to the theme

  • An innovative theatre-based approach to the theme that explores new boundaries

Competitors who wished to write and perform their own work were signposted to the following link:

Suggested Guidance for Recording the Performances

The following guidelines were suggested

  1. For the performance, the candidates should stay within a ten feet square space.

  2. Position the recording camera in the space usually occupied by a ‘live adjudicator’

  3. Allow each candidate the opportunity for ‘a dry run’ so that they get a ‘feel’ for the space and its acoustics

  4. Allow time for a sound check

  5. Remind competitors that they should start by giving their name and a brief introduction to the performance: title of scripts used and name of playwright and/or that they are taking one of the different optional approaches

  6. If the candidate ‘dries’ during the performance, have a policy in place as to whether a restart can be allowed: were there mitigating circumstances, for instance?

  7. If the candidate over-runs the time limit, make that clear in a note to the adjudicator who can deduct marks in line with festival guidelines

  8. If there is equipment failure which means that a performance has to be stopped or re-recorded, allow the competitor time to ‘gather’ themselves before any restart


Nine candidates performed a range of responses on the same day and in the same venue. At the time of recording, restrictions were lifting on the Isle of Man.

The adjudicator was sent the recordings and these were marked. The adjudicator recorded his comments on each of the candidates in a twenty minute film.

Ten days later the performers reprised their work to an audience of family and friends at Empress Hotel in Douglas. At that event, the adjudicator’s film reel was presented to the live audience; after which, the names of the runner up and winner were announced.


What worked well?

  • the detailed considerations given to the ways the event was structured. There were a number of discussions and these were crucial in terms of ensuring clarity as to the expectations placed upon the young actors and appropriate guidelines

  • the nature of the task set, agreed through discussions between the adjudicator and Jacqui Hawkes, the Young Actor of Mann coordinator, which enabled the candidates to work, without supervision, to create their performance work

  • providing an opportunity for the young actors to create their own original scripts

  • the high quality of the recordings produced by the technical team; this was crucial. The recordings were of a an excellent standard

Issues and Considerations

  • allocating time for detailed discussions with festival organisers and technical teams to agree as to what procedures might be put in place

  • asking it to be made known to the ‘live audience’ that the adjudicator comments relate a recorded performance

  • resisting the temptation to view the recordings more than once; replicate how you would audience ‘in situ’

  • visualise yourself being ‘in the space and place’ (Not a substitute for being in the room, but it helped!

  • having tech support to record your comments and feedback

  • recognise that preparing thoughts for recording involves creating a written ‘script’ for yourself so that the recorded feedback is ‘tight’. (Other adjudicators might be able to record their thoughts without this as we would from the stage but the medium can be barrier)

Robert Meadows GODA

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