Performance Rules & Guidelines

university of colorado denver national history day in colorado a pre-collegiate social studies and literacy program

PLEASE NOTE: The General Rules for All Categories must also be adhered to.

Rule 1: Time Requirements 
  • Performances may not exceed 10 minutes in length. Timing starts at the beginning of the performance following the announcement of the title and student name(s).
  •  You will be allowed an additional 5 minutes to set up and 5 minutes to remove any props needed for your performance. 
Note: You should allow several empty seconds in your performance to account for unplanned pauses (e.g., applause, forgotten lines, etc.). 
Rule 2: Performance Introduction 
  • The title of your entry and the names of the participants must be the first and only announcements prior to the start of the performance. 
Rule 3: Media Devices 
  • Use of slides, mp3 players, computers, or other media within your performance is permitted. You must run all equipment and carry out any special lighting effects. 
  • Only those student(s) listed as entrants may participate in the production. 
Rule 4: Script 
  • The script for the performance should NOT be included with the written material presented to the judges. 
Rule 5: Costumes
  • You may have assistance in producing your costume, but the design, choice of fabrics, etc., must be your own. Or, you may rent a costume. Remember: simple is best.
Rule 6: Required Written Materials
  • Three copies of your title page, process paper, and bibliography should be presented to the judges for review. Be sure to bring an additional copy for your own reference. Refer to Part III, Rules 16-18 for citation and style information. 
Tips From Your State Office 
When writing your script, make sure you emphasize the "thesis" or main argument of the topic you're about to portray, AND its "significance" - both in relation to the annual theme. Follow this formula: (1) Tell them what you're going to tell them; (2) Tell them; then, (3) Tell them what you told them. For example, in your opening have the narrator or the initial dialogue "set the stage" for the "thesis and significance"; make sure it's reinforced throughout the performance; and, then summarize what the audience has seen, continuing to emphasize the "thesis and significance." We cannot stress this enough! "Pound home" the relationship to the annual theme. 
When annotating your bibliography, make sure you emphasize what primary documents, in particular, were helpful and how you used them in the script. For example, in the bibliography of a performance on Seneca Falls, students listed many of her personal letters to friends and professional colleagues. In the annotation, they said, "This particular letter was helpful because it represented . . ." "We incorporated this statement . . . because it pointed out . . ." Sometimes the judges' final decision rests on the quality of the process paper. 
Take special care in preparing your props and costume, making sure they are as historically replicated as possible. For example, if part of your performance includes a demonstration or protest that took place in the 19th century, make sure your signage is appropriate. Don't use white poster board with colored magic marker unless your historical research (through primary documents, photographs, etc.) shows that those materials would be considered authentic. You will be evaluated on historical accuracy and content, and, in the performance category, everything counts! 
Remember: "Less is More". Don't let props and costume changes take away from your performance. You are NOT being evaluated on a flashy presentation. Concentrate on CONTENT and PERFORMING it well, along with an excellent PROCESS PAPER and BIBLIOGRAPHY. If you've done your research, this will all come together!