Performances Blend History and Entertainment

For students who enjoy performing in front of others and want to take what they've learned as historians and communicate it dramatically, then the Performance category might be the right choice.  Characterization, props, costumes, and script-writing take the place of caption and fomecore.  Performances provide a chance to make history "come alive."

The following guide to doing History Fair Performances was written by Christy Neider, a former History Day student and history teacher;  it was revised and expanded by Sherry Rollo, also a History Day student and now a practicing attorney.  CMHEC also contains a library of videotaped performances that may be viewed.

From Research to Script
Props and Costumes
Performing Your Script


Chicago Metro History Fair Performances & Historical Voices

Performances are dramatic presentations of a historical interpretation based on evidence; Historical Voices are a form of public speaking that combines a speech with student analysis.

RULE 1: Individuals or groups of no more than five may participate in a dramatic performance project. No more than two students can participate in a Historical Voices project.

RULE 2: Performances are 10 minutes long.

RULE 3: Dramatic performances and props/scenery must be created and performed entirely by the students registered.

RULE 4: Two copies of the Summary Statement Form with an attached annotated bibliography should be submitted. Primary and secondary sources should be separated in the annotated bibliography.

RULE 5: Project topics must be connected to the Chicago region--even if the national theme is being used. Non-Chicago topics will still be evaluated but will not be eligible to advance.  Junior HF allows topics in Illinois history.

RULE 6: Plagiarism is not accepted, and constitutes grounds for disqualification.

PENALTY POINTS (High School only)
Exceeds Time Limit: Minus 2 points for over ten minutes. 
No Summary Statement Form: Minus 10 points 
Bibliography not annotated: Minus 5 points
No bibliography: 0 points in source category

Performances & Historical Voices Guidelines

  • A performance should clearly state a thesis and develop an argument as would an exhibit or paper. It should either use evidence or specifically allude to it in the script. Theatrical quality is important but, at the same time, it does not outweigh the analysis of the project. It is recommended that the historical knowledge and analysis be scrutinized before the student(s) commit to memorization of the script.

  • Students will have five minutes at the beginning of their performance and five minutes after to set up and take down any props or materials.

  • Historical Voices projects are eligible for local and state competitions, but not the National level. The Historical Voices category allows students who enjoy public speaking, but not dramatic presentations. A recitation of a historic speech (maximum four minutes) is followed by a six-minute analysis. It should discuss the impact, significance, and context from which the speech originated.

  • Performances are not directly penalized for being under the 10 minute limitation, however, judges may conclude that the knowledge and analysis suffered from lack of development and evaluate the project accordingly. We recommend students use all of the ten minutes.

More tips from National History Day

Sample performances by History Fair Students--You Can Do It Too!

Individual Performance 1

Individual Performance 2


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