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The Jeff Non-Equity Award Process


Eligibility Rules

The Non-Equity season runs from April 1 – March 31 of each year. The presentation of the Awards is made at an appropriate ceremony in the spring.

For initial consideration, a theatre organization that wishes to have a non-Equity production judged must qualify under either of the following options: 1. Been in existence for two consecutive years prior to being granted eligibility and have presented at least two productions during each of those two years. Each production during that two year period must have had a minimum of 9 performances and all requirements set forth below (with the exception of #B.6.) must have been met. 2. Been in existence for three consecutive years prior to being granted eligibility and have presented at least one production during each of those three years which has had a minimum of 18 performances and meets all the requirements set forth below (with the exception of #B.6) After becoming eligible, the theatre organization must continue to produce at least two productions per year that adhere to all the requirements listed below, including the 18-performance minimum. Under special circumstances, departure from the requirements will be considered by the Criteria Committee. An eligible theatre that wishes to have a production judged must notify the Non-Equity chair by the 18th of the month before the month in which the opening performance of that production is to take place. A theater seeking initial Jeff eligibility must contact the non-Equity chair by the 10th of the month before the month in which their opening performance is scheduled.

Additional eligibility requirements
1. The Committee considers professional, non-union theatre organizations incorporated in the State of Illinois, whether as not-for-profit organizations or as commercial for-profit companies.

2. The Committee will only consider productions within the city limits of Chicago, including productions located on streets which form the boundaries of the City of Chicago.

3. The Committee does not consider theatres with ties – either financial or artistic – to any educational, religious, or social service institution, or to a municipal park district.

4. The Committee does not judge late-night performances (i.e., curtain at or after 9:30 p.m.), puppet theatre, opera, performance art, children’s theatre, student or youth theatre, foreign language theatre, mime theatre, unscripted or improvised productions, or staged readings.

5. We do not judge evenings of multiple plays unless all artistic components, with the exception of actors and authors, are the same for each (i.e., director, set designer, etc.). With rare exceptions, no performer in such productions will qualify for the Principal Actor/Actress category.

6. Productions must run for a minimum of four weeks and eighteen performances—previews do not count-- and each week must include performances on at least three days. At least one of these three days must be a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

7. A revival of the same work at the same theatre or by essentially the same company is not eligible to be judged in the Non-Equity Wing if that prior production was judged in the same Wing less than seven (7) years earlier

8. For productions presented in repertory, the minimum number of performances requirement in Rule #B.6. may be modified, although for each show included in the repertory presentation there still must be at least three performances each week, with at least one of the performances on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, and a total of 14 performances.

9. Beginning April 2013, a theatre which has not had a production recommended for the three previous non-Equity seasons will lose it eligibility. Newer Jeff eligible theatres will be reviewed for the first time three years after they first become eligible. If a theatre loses its eligibility, it may request resumption of Jeff judging after two subsequent non-Equity seasons, during which time the theatre continues to meet all requirements for eligibility stated above in items # 1-8.

10. In a co-production that includes non-eligible theatres, all theatres must substantiate artistic contribution to the show. Regarding this guideline, the provision of venue, funding, business services or equipment is not considered an artistic component. The ineligible theater(s), when seeking future Jeff eligibility, may count the co-production as one of their qualifying shows if all other criteria are met.

A. Seven judges (5 Jeff judges and 2 A/T judges) are randomly assigned to attend the opening night. Jeff judges are generally limited to judging one opening per season for any company. Judges are not to judge productions if they have a conflict of interest with that company or any member of the cast or artistic team.

B. Judges report their votes by 7:00 a.m. the morning following the opening night for any elements of the production they consider excellent or to register no votes.

C. A show is considered Jeff recommended if there are positive votes from at least 5 judges and at least 4 votes for the same element PLUS at least 3 votes for the same second element; OR there are 20 or more votes from at least 5 judges; OR all 7 judges vote for the same element. For productions with casts of fewer than 4 actors, at least 2 votes for 2 elements totaling 6 votes (4/2, 3/3); OR a total of 18 votes.

D. In the event that fewer than 7 judges attend an opening night (providing that at least 6 judges did attend), then the determination of whether a show is recommended may be made as follows: Votes from at least 4 judges with 4 or more votes for a single element plus 2 votes for a second element; OR a total of 18 votes from at least 4 judges; OR votes for the same element from all 6 judges.  For productions with casts of fewer than 4 actors, at least 2 votes for 2 elements totaling 5 votes (4/1, 3/2) OR a total of 17 votes or votes from all six judges for one element.                         

E. If recommended, the theatre and the members of the Jeff Committee are notified. They are not told what elements of the production received votes. Each member is expected to see the production during the course of the run and submit a ballot voting for any element(s) he or she considers outstanding.


A. At the end of the season (4/1 to 3/31) the ballots are tabulated. The top 5 vote recipients in each category are placed on the final ballot, provided the votes for that nominee fall within an appropriate percentage. In some cases, as in the case of a statistical tie, the category may be expanded by the Ballot Committee to include more than 5 nominees on the final ballot.

B. On the final ballot, members may vote in any given category only when they have seen at least three nominees when there are five or more nominations or at least two when there are two to four nominations.

C. Voting in each category is to be “weighted voting” in which members may cast in each category the number of votes equal to the number of nominees seen, and may distribute those votes at their discretion.

D. The ballots are tabulated and the award recipients are determined after all final ballots are turned in. One recipient is identified per category, except the case of a tie. Multiple awards may be presented for New Work “Other” (special achievement) and New Adaptation categories, as they are non- competitive.

E. The Non-Equity Awards Ceremony is ordinarily held on the first or second Monday in June.




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