About CDA

CDA Board

Ethan Warner, President ethan.warner@meridenk12.org Orville H. Platt High School

MaryLee Delaney, Vice President mldelaney@sacredhearthamden.org Sacred Heart Academy

William Prenetta, New England Festival Representative wprenetta@ellingtonschools.net Ellington High School

Lori Cartwright, Treasurer loriahlcart@gmail.com 

What Is The CDA?

The CDA is one of the oldest state secondary school theatre organizations in the country. Established in 1936, the CDA continues to offer students and teachers a wide variety of educational theatre experiences in which to grow and learn, share and enjoy.

The CDA is you – teachers and directors, with and without formal theatre training, who want to provide the best in theatre education, and the CDA is your students – young people who are enthusiastic about the magic of theatre.

What Do Our Students Learn Through The Study Of Theatre?

The study of theatre also teaches responsibility, trust, sensitivity, tolerance, an appreciation of human diversity and an understanding of self.

A Brief History

Records show that the first major education theater event in Connecticut occurred in 1936, that being a spring drama festival, an annual activity that has continued through the years until today. From 1936 until 1960 the drama festival, as well as other state-wide educational theater-related activities, were sponsored by a combined drama and speech association, and this association was, in turn, a component of the Connecticut Association of Secondary Schools’ Non-Athletic Board of Control.

In 1960, a group of individuals on the Non-Athletic Board felt it was important to separate drama and speech into two distinct organizations in order to more fully realize the goals of each. To that end, on November 22, 1960, a state-wide meeting of drama directors/sponsors was called at Bulkley High School in Hartford in an attempt to organize theater-related educational activities under the guise of a formal organization called “The Connecticut Drama Association.”

On October 27, 1961, the CDA held its first annual donvention. It was held at Plainville High School with Marjorie Mueller Freer in charge of registration. Sixty-four people attended, fifty eight of whom took out membership in the fledgling organization.

Fall conventions have continued every year, the location of which has changed annually. All have in common speakers, demonstrations and performances. Records show that presenters have come from a host of professional and educational organizations including Columbia University, Yale University, The University of Bridgeport, Westport Country Playhouse, the American Shakespeare Theater, etc. Indeed, a symposium at the 1965 conventions included Viola Spolin, the well-known author of Improvisation for the Theater, Barry Weissler, who was to become a major producer of professional theater in New York, and George White, the founder of the Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Connecticut.

The CDA has, since its inception, maintained membership in the New England Drama Council, an organization that sponsors an annual festival comprised of the two winners of each of New England’s respective state drama festivals. These festivals rotate in an alphabetical order among the New England states.

During the late 1980’s the CDA felt a necessity to draft a formal constitution, the initials steps of which were organized by Patricia Souney, the theater director from Guilford High School and treasurer of the CDA. The organization had grown tremendously by this time and talk of incorporation was in the air to better meet its needs. Members of the executive council repeatedly met with CASS pleading the cause of a three-day drama festival, due to the increasing number of schools wishing to participate. Perhaps due to a growing feeling of independence, some of which was desired and some of which was heaped upon it, the CDA looked to a constitution as a basis to formally guide growth and development.

The CDA has continued to grow, attempting to answer the needs of the burgeoning education theater programs within the state’s high schools. It has created an annual “CDA Day” at one of the state regional theaters such as Long Wharf Theater in New Haven or the Hartford State Company. It has also instituted an annual “Monologue Contest” which is hosted by a different high school each year. In addition, it has developed a “Showcase Project,” where member schools invite others to see their productions at reduced costs.

In September of 1996, the Connecticut Drama Association became incorporated, bringing closure to the questions first posed and trepidations first expressed some ten years earlier. The committee of Emmett T. Casey, John W. Ayres, and Julian Schlusberg worked with attorney Paula Herman of a Hartford law firm in this endeavor.

Past Winners:


Greenwich High School – The Twelve-Pound Look


Greenwich High School – Winsome Winnie

Roger Ludlowe High School – A Wedding


The Gilbert School – Heaven and Earth


Greenwich High School – Pride and Prejudice


Greenwich High School – New School for Wives

The Gilbert School – Confessional


Manchester High School – A Wedding


No Festival held due to WWII


Manchester High School – The One Who Came to Gettysburg

Plainfield High School – The Valiant


Litchfield High School – Dust of the Road

Norwich Free Academy – The Old Lady Shows Her Medals


Bulkely High School – Parting at lmsdorf

Norwich Free Academy – The Cradle Song


Greenwich High School – Elizabeth, The Queen

Manchester High School – Will-O-The-Wisp


No Festival held


Bulkely High School – The Moon is Down

Greenwich High School – The Wonder Hat


Bulkely High School – Key Largo — Prologue

New Britain High School – The Happy Journey from Camden

   to Trenton


Bulkely High School – Valley Forge

Manchester High School – Antigone


Manchester High School – Jephtheih’s Daughter

Plainville High School – The Informer


Williams Memorial Institute – The House of Bernarda Alba

Woodbury High School – Saint Joan (Act IV)


Manchester High School – The Dummy

Plainville High School – Our Hearts Were Young and Gay


Manchester High School – On Borrowed Time

Stratford High School – Box and Cox


Stamford High School – The Glass Menagerie

Thomaston High School – Le Medicin Malagre Lui


Greenwich High School – Julius Caesar (Act IV)

Waterbury High School – Antigone


Greenwich High School – Arms and the Man


Branford High School – Finders Keepers

New London High School – Overtones


Cheshire Academy – Home of the Brave

Torrington High School – The Diary of Ann Frank


Cheshire Academy – The Caine Mutiny Court Martial

New London High School – The Playboy of the Western World


Staples High School – Teahouse of the August Moon

Stratford High School – The Hitchhiker


No records available


RHAM High School – Inherit the Wind

Bristol Eastern High School – Scenes from Shakespeare


RHAM High School – The Glass Menagerie

Rippowham High School – In White America


Staples High School – The Zoo Story

Stamford High School – The Long Christmas Dinner


Westhill High School – The Tiger

Simsbury High School – The Bald Soprano


Glastonbury High School – The Interview

Staples High School – The Brick and the Rose


Hamden High School – The Miracle Worker

Staples High School – Bury the Dead


Westhill High School – The Old Lady Shows Her Medals

Staples High School – A View From the Bridge


Hamden High School – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Westhill High School – Veronica’s Room


Westhill High School – Hamlet

Windham High School – David and Lisa


Hamden High School – The Crucible

Windham High School – The Miracle Worker


Hamden High School – Desire Under the Elms

Hilhouse High School – for colored girls who have

   considered suicide/when the

   rainbow is enuf


Hamden High School – Othello

Westhill High School – Interview


Hamden High School – The Great White Hope

Westhill High School – The Trojan Women


Hamden High School – Becket, or The Honor of God

Choate Rosemary Hall – Jack, or The Submission


Hamden High School – Richard III

Darien High School – Antigone


Roger Ludlowe High School – To Kill a Mockingbird

Darien High School – Whose Life is it Anyway?


Hamden High School – Children of a Lesser God

Westhill High School – The Brick and the Rose


Guilford High School – The Diary of Anne Frank

The Taft School – Women of America


Hopkins School – Present Tense

Darien High School – Close Ties


Hamden High School – The Shadow Box

The Taft School – Rockabilliewillie


Hamden High School – The Admirable Crichton

Darien High School – Starry Night


Hamden High School – The Little Foxes

Westhill High SchooI – Veronica’s Room


Hamden High School – Steel Magnolias

Darien High School – Blue Window


Hamden High School – Much Ado About Nothing

Darien High School – The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket


Hamden High School – The Boy Next Door

Darien High School – Brighton Beach Memoirs


Hamden High School – Dancing at Lughnasa

Darien High School – Marvin’s Room


Hamden High School – Camille

Darien High School – To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday


Hamden High School – Antigone

Conard High School – The Good Doctor

William Hall High School – The Universal Language


Hamden High School – Summer and Smoke

Darien High School – The Glass Menagerie


Hamden High School – On the Verge or the Geography

   of Yearning

Darien High School – Nine Armenians


Guilford High School – All in the Timing

William Hall High School – The Complete Works of William

   Shakespeare (abridged)


Haddam-Killingworth High School – The Snow Ball

William Hall High School – Impassioned Embraces


Edwin O. Smith High School – The Effects of Gamma Rays on

   Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

Pomperaug High School – The Rimers of Eldritch


Haddam-Killingworth High School – Summer and Smoke

Greenwich High School – Table for Nine


Rockville High School – Vision of Anne Frank

Pomperaug High School – Somewhere In Between

Stamford High School – Our Town


Woodland Regional High School – Icarus

Greenwich High School – Romeo and Juliet


Westhill High School – Metamorphoses

Stamford High School – The Actor’s Nightmare


Ridgefield High School – Second Best Bed

Guilford High School – Endgame


Ellington High School – Property Rites

Stamford High School – Life Force, A Shoah Love Story


Stamford High School – Soap Opera

New Canaan High School – The Most Massive Woman Wins


Edwin O. Smith High School – Animal Farm

Stamford High School – The Show Must Go On


Edwin O. Smith High School – Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

Guilford High School – On the Verge or the Geography

   of Yearning


Joel Barlow High School – America Hurrah

Stamford High School – The Effects of Gamma Rays on

   Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds


Ellington High School – Almost, Maine

Ridgefield High School – Forgetting Frankie


Ridgefield High School – Blind Date

Old Saybrook High School – The Booby Trap


Joel Barlow High School – Still Life With Iris

Stamford High School – The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)


Ellington High School – Dead Beats

Old Saybrook High School – For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls


Joel Barlow High School – The Devil and Daniel Webster

Stamford High School – The Real Inspector Hound


Joel Barlow High School – Rashomon

RJ Kinsella Magnet School – Antigone


Ellington High School – The Endless Arc

Westhill High School – Radium Girls


Joel Barlow High School - Sonder: A Lighted Window at Dark

Westhill High School - A Voice in the Dark: A Salem Story