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Old West Performance

Click to download the "How to be a Contender"

Click to download the Old West Performance Score-sheet

You should be familiar with several aspects of what it takes to produce an Old West reenactment performance including a basic knowledge of history, clothing and the people of the time period, roughly 1860-1890 bearing in mind that these competitions will allow presentations (comedy/drama) of actual events or fictitious stories that are based on historical situations that did or could have happened. You should also have some experience with theatre and/or performing arts as well as being familiar with basic gun safety. Although this is a competitive environment, we want to keep things friendly, fun and enjoyable and allow it to be a learned experience for the groups involved as well as the participating audiences. We want this to be a memorable experience for everyone involved including those of you with the responsibility of judging these groups. It is not your job to ‘find' fault in everyone's performance but the responsibility of those in the know to point out weaknesses, mistakes or misconceptions that may occur at this event during an individual performance. It is your responsibility to ask questions at the line-up after each performance. This will allow the performers to answer for any questionable indiscretions. Document all legitimate write-ups and if possible please provide ‘useful' information that can/will help performers with future presentations. Try and keep your notes simple. We want your attention on the performance as much as possible. If you notice an infraction, make a quick note then dwell on the specifics after the performance.


The Shows


There are 3 different performances acceptable in this competition.


1. Actual historic event. Dates, times, names and places must be accurate and each performer should

be knowledgeable of the character they will portray as well as the story they are performing.


2. Dramatic depictions of the old west based on historical situations and/or events that could have

happened. Fictional stories about the hardships, dangers and conflicts that made the western frontier

a violent and sometimes merciless environment. Claim jumping, land grabbing, water rights, barbwire,

political turmoil, gambling, robbing, murder, good whiskey, bad women, fast horses, etc. Performers

should be able to provide general information about the topic of the performance and be familiar with

the story line depicted.


3. Comedic depictions of the old west based on historical situations and/or events from a lighter point

of view. Vaudeville was born in the old west as was the half dime novels and the world has always

loved the clown but, we want to steer away from the use of modern anachronisms like cell phones,

Clinton/Bush jokes or the mention of modern situations plucked from today's headlines with the use

of any modern dialogue!!


Please keep in mind that these competitions do allow presentations of actual events or fictitious stories

that are based on historical situations that could have happened! If you are a person who doesn't prefer

comedies or dramas for that matter, please remember that you are judging the particular performance

on the merit of the performance; it's historical significance and entertainment value as a package. Please

document all discrepancies for entertainment value or historical accuracy in the appropriate sub category.





Historically Accurate, Clothing & Performance


This section of the score sheet requires an itemized list of explanations for each discrepancy.

One point is deducted for each legitimate discrepancy. If a point is deducted but has no explanation, the point will be added back into the groups final score. So, if there is an infraction, please make a note to the side or on the back of the score sheet with a quick explanation of the deduction and which sub-category will be effected.




Historically Accurate


A. Events/Timeline- Are the facts used in the performance correct, ie.dates, places, names, etc…?


B. Characters- Are characters true to the story line and believable?


C. Dialogue- Modern dialogue, slang and or references. You can still tell a good political joke just

use President Grant instead of President Bush! Autos are buggies, buses are stagecoaches and

trains by coincidence are still trains!


D. Props- Buckets, brooms, chairs, bottles, tools, saddles, locks, keys or anything else brought

on the set is eligible for scrutiny!


Clothing And Gear


All trappings & accoutrements must be period correct constructed to duplicate actual items in

existence or must be a suitable RGA approved reproduction. (Example: vests without full

collars are approved; elastic suspenders are approved. Vaqueros w/generic grips are

suitable reproductions; Ruger Super Blackhawk's are not, etc…)



A. Garments- Shirts, britches, vests, dresses, blouses, coats, jackets, etc… No modern tags should be showing!


B. Head/footwear- Boots, brogans, loggers shoes, moccasins, sandals, ladies shoes, etc…


C. Accessories- Spurs, chaps, watches, badges, parasols, jewelry, makeup, fans, purses, glasses, etc…


D. Weapons & Rigs- Vaqueros are suitable reproductions; Ruger Super Blackhawk's are not! Also the Bird Head grips do have obvious restrictions. The Cimarron Arms Lightning or Thunder do resemble the original Colt Lightning and even though they're not single action will be deemed acceptable. The various Uberti and Ruger Bird's head grip styles will not. Research the difference in styles.




A. Story line- Show must have a beginning, middle and ending! Introduce characters to the audience

and develop characters as the story goes on. Plot must build to an adequate climax. You must have a story

that comes to a proper conclusion; leave no questions unanswered! They all live happily ever after isn't

mandatory but it sure is nice for the good guy to save the day!


B. Blocking/Timing- Blocking is any stage movement! Did they make use of the stage properly? Were

actors running into each other? Was the bulk of the performance directed towards the audience with

their viewing pleasure in mind? Were key players turning their backs to the audience while presenting dialogue

for no apparent reason? Timing is basically the way the show flows! Was there any dead time; absolutely

no one on set for uncomfortably long times; confusion among performers or any other problems that

upset the flow of the show! Misfires could create a blocking/timing problem! Did the performer seem lost

or overreact to the misfire? Did the performer cover the problem or make it seem like it was part of the story?

If it obviously changed the show for the worse, misfires should be recorded here, otherwise if the incident

was recovered well why would you deduct for it?


C. Acting- All verbal and non-verbal expression! Were characters believable? Did they fumble or flub lines?

Were they saying the words or did they seem more like they were reading dialogue from the script?

Could you feel their pain, sorrow, anger, happiness, etc.…?


D. Vocal Projection- Each performer with dialogue MUST be heard! If it is important for the script it

is important for the story! Did actors talk to each other or to the audience? Could you as a judge hear them

and most important could the audience?


E. Language- In regards to questionable language, the acceptable words that can be used are "Hell, Damn

and Jackass" in moderation. "SOB" can only be used on a limited basis when it adds to the development of

the character or situation. Always be mindful of your audience and use common sense.



Under Historical Accurate- Dialogue, the deputy said “Das a fact Jack”,-1 point deduction.


Events/timeline, the deputy “high fives the gunfighter”, -1 point deduction.


Under Performance- Blocking/Timing, some of the performers got in the way of the action which

caused confusion on the set, -1 point deduction.


This gives the group the information they need to correct any problems and allows them a better

understanding as to what is expected when competing in the future.




This category has 3 sub-categories (overall impression, entertainment value and professionalism)

and they are for the most part based on your expert overall opinion.


1. Overall impression.


2. Entertainment value.


3. Prepared/continuity.


This is the only category that is on a sliding scale of 0-10. Scores should reflect both your opinion and how

the audience reacts towards the performance itself. It is unnecessary to explain or itemize these categories.

0-3 poor, 4-6 good, 7-8 very good, 9-10 excellent.


Keep in mind that if you give the first group a 10 and another group comes along that deserves a higher score

you have limited your scoring ability. If you start off with a 7 or 8, you can always go higher or lower to

provide the most adequate score possible to insure the best performance for the day.


Note: Since this is a theatrical environment, the use of theatrical make-up will inevitably be considered for

some performances. Blood capsules for something like a punch to the mouth and small blood packs/special

effects make-up that helps create the illusion of a wound should be acceptable when used sparingly within

the limitations of the story being told. Exploding blood bags, large quantities of blood and effects that are

expressly designed to graphically display gore for the sake of the shock factor should be discouraged.

We do not want the general audience who attend our events to become witness to a blood bath performance.

All members should tkae this into consideration while performing competitions and street performances

viewed by the general public.





These events will have established boundaries for safety/insurance purposes. Also, the safety

distances for blanks are included in this section and should be observed in any/all locations.

Any violation of safety will result in a -2 point deduction per judge. 3 safety infractions could

result in a disqualification. The safety officer/judges have the responsibility of determining violations

and have final say on questionable situations.




Time limits will be 8-15 minutes and are enforced for scheduling purposes. -1 point per judge will be

deducted for each and every minute (0 seconds to 1 minute) over/under 8-15. If a show is

less than 3 minutes or more than 20 minutes, a zero will result in this section. At 20

minutes, "Time" will be called and the show stopped. Shows must be in

the time limits for the benefit of the festivities.



Best Categories


The final part of the scoring includes “Individual Categories” such as best actor/actress,

best stunt, youth, best comedy/drama and best dressed male/female. A separate score

sheet for individual best categories includes all groups competing and slots for your

nomination. At the end of each performance you will score the performers accordingly

from 1-100 in these categories. The overall points winners will be announced during

the awards ceremony.




ACTRESS, ACTOR, STUNT (which can be more than one individual), YOUTH,


and FEMALE will be awarded.




As a Performing Group:


1. Before their performance, each group will appear before the judges to address any safety concerns,

(such as special weapons or props), and to answer any pertinent questions on date or location of show.

To protect the integrity of the performance, this meeting should be kept as discreet to the audience as

possible and characters wearing special make-up or costume need not appear.


2. They must have three 8-15 minute performances, (one in the case of a sudden death tie breaker),

that depict an actual event in history or a drama/comedy that could have happened between 1860-1890.


3. They must have three active members of their individual group who is in good standing

with RGA attend to constitute a team.


4.  Teams can borrow performers from other groups for supporting roles but borrowed performers

cannot outnumber the individual group members performing. A team that borrows performers must

use the same performers during the entire event for supporting roles if needed. Borrowed players

will not be eligible for individual award categories except when performing in their own group!


5. They must be familiar with all RGA safety rules and guidelines.


6.  They must have an assigned armory or team SO to provide a splatter test the first morning of the

competition and is in charge of the teams blanks. Blanks should be carried in one case, preferably metal.


7. In case of a tie, we will first go to the score sheet. First we will check who has the highest score

in clothing/gear. If there is still a tie we look at the highest score under the Historically accurate category.

If there is still a tie we will go to the highest score in the performance category. If there is still a tie,

a sudden death performance can be called for.



Typical Write Up From Judges


1. Make note, Spurs on sheriff.


2. At the line up, ask the character to tell you about his spurs and why he would be wearing them.

(It works the same with Levi's too. Just ask the same obvious questions and let them prove the item

available first and possibly used by that character second.)


3. An answer of, "I like them... they are pretty", would not justify the use,-1 point but, "I just got

back from taking a prisoner to Jackson county; I'm breaking a horse for the blacksmith; I used to

be a cowboy in my earlier years", would be an adequate explanation for an item that would under

most circumstances be out of place. If the character, (answering as the character), explains the usage

in a reasonable manner there would/should be no reason for a point deduction.


4. Deduct 1 point for each infraction. In the case of the spurs, under wardrobe on the score sheet

you would deduct a point from the sub-category of accessories with an explanation. If the point is

deducted, then under clothing, the sub-category of accessories would reflect a total of "4" unless

there are other discrepancies. It would also be nice if you as a judge could provide some suggested

reading or references for groups to study pertaining to these legitimate discrepancies whenever possible.

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