Interhouse plays are a powerful mass participation activity

One Act plays produced, cast and directed by young people themselves are sure winners. I wonder why more schools don't explore the Interhouse drama competition which has so many benefits for schools and their communities?

Bergvliet High School's cast of actors in the four One-Act plays held on 15 May 2014

All schools have interhouse programmes, but in many cases the Interhouse is reserved for once-off sport events. But, why not develop the interhouse into a broad-based program that goes beyond just one day of fun?


There are schools that have well developed, institutionalised House systems. Besides competing at interhouse athletics level, houses also compete on other platforms like drama and debating. Let's have a peek into the House play model.


Features of the One Act Interhouse Plays

I like the one-act interhouse plays that many schools host. The learners must produce their own play, provide their own cast drawn from their house members and direct the play themselves. There are other rules that apply as well. For instance, the play must have a minimum number of cast members and be 20 minutes long. Each drama team is given about four minutes to set up their stage and they are given four minutes to remove all the props at the end of the play. Each production must also have their own backstage team.


Usually an adjudicator is appointed to award good performances in different categories and to choose the best interhouse play. Best supporting actor and actress, outstanding actors in each play and best actor and actress are a few of the prize-giving categories. This is like the Interhouse Oscars, a ceremony that the actors and the audience enjoy thoroughly.


Another interesting feature of this interhouse drama evening is that the event is free. Learners and parents come along to support their house and there is a wonderful sense of comraderie. Without much effort from teachers and parents, the schools that promote and stage these interhouse plays, have a win-win situation. The learners learn so many new skills about the world of theatre and there is amazing community building.


Schools are always looking for broad-based activities for learners, especially those schools in our working class areas. I would definitely advocate for the expansion of the interhouse or house system at schools where this house system is not maximized. Schools can start the house system in a manageable way.

Advice on how to introduce the Interhouse play concept at your school

Let's see if we can provide a broad framework that can help schools. Here goes:


  1. Advocate the interhouse play concept to the learners and teachers. Show Youtube videos, visit websites and invite schools to share how their house system works.
  2. Set a date on your cultural calendar for your Interhouse play evening.
  3. Ask teachers in the various houses to help coordinate the house play BUT teachers must not write the play, choose the actors or get involved in this way. Let the learners do all this fun, but hard work.
  4. Advertise the event and invite the community to a night of free entertainment provided by the learners.
  5. Take tons of pictures to record this historic moment.


Now, what are we waiting for, besides inviting me to the Interhouse play at your school, via your Youtube video or via your website?


BHS Interhouse Play Evening, May 2014. The cast and the stage manager. 100% student driven.









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