Commitment to theatre is what the International Thespian Society is all about. The Society was established in 1929 at Fairmont, West Virginia, by Dr. Earl Blank, who was then the director of dramatics at the high school in Casper, Wyoming; Dr. Paul Opp, a member of the college faculty; and Harry Leeper, a teacher at East Fairmont High Schools.
They named their organization the National Thespian Society for Thespis, the Greek who, according to legend, was the first actor; their guiding principle was a dedication to excellence in theatre arts in secondary schools. Seventy-one schools became charter members of the society. The first national convention and election of officers was held in 1930. From this modest beginning, the organization enjoyed steady growth, and in the next five years, the membership had increased to 320 troupes. The national office was moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1935. By the time the Society had celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, there were 3,190 troupes on its rolls.
At that point, the Society had grown into an international organization with more than a million members and troupes in every state and many foreign countries. The Society sponsors state, regional, national, and international theatre conferences where its members can learn more about the art and craft of theatre, perform and see outstanding performances, and audition for scholarships.
In 1989, the governing board of the Thespian Society formed the Educational Theatre Association to help it provide a broader range of services to theatre educators. The Educational Theatre Association is a professional organization for theatre teachers that includes its membership all Thespian troupe sponsors. Its board now operates the Thespian Society, continuing the tradition of honoring and serving theatre students and their teachers.
The goals of the Thespian Society haven't changed. It still strives to give young adults a place for outstanding theatre where the standards of excellence in theatre arts will be advanced and to honor those students who do theatre well. And it continues to be guided by the principles of its founders: a belief that participation in the arts is an essential means of widening students' cultural horizons and enriching their lives.
- About Thespian Troupe #660
- Membership in the International Thespian Society
- Meeting Information
- Thespian Points
- Theater Links
As a member of the International Thespian Society, LSHS exhibits their commitment to quality theatre. Students who are interested in Theatre and enjoy participating in theatrical activities are encouraged to join the Thespian Troupe #660 at LSHS. Within Troupe #660, students are able to participate in high school sponsored theatrical activities throughout the year. Furthermore, students earn points and are recognized for their achievements. The best method to learn more about thespians is by talking to a current Thespian, attending a meeting, or by checking out our website. You may also read more about the International Society to which we belong below.
Since 1929, more than two million students have been honored for excellence in theatre arts by being invited to join the International Thespian Society. As a member of ITS, you join a group that includes not only accomplished actors but people who have distinguished themselves in business, science, law, medicine, and every other field of endeavor. The International Thespian Society is the only organization to honor secondary school students for outstanding work in theatre. The resolution with which the Society approaches this role is evident in its focus on the students; their achievements, involvement, and access to quality theatre arts instruction are basic concerns of ITS.
Thespian membership is granted for the performance of meritorious work in theatre arts which meets the Society's general guidelines. Specifically, students become members by earning points for their work. Any student who has participated in at least two productions for a total of one hundred hours of work is eligible for Thespian Society membership.
Records of student activities will be maintained at LSHS and Thespian membership may be conferred when qualifications have been met. The troupe clerk is responsible for maintaining these records, which are available for students' review.
A Thespian moving to another affiliated school is entitled to transfer his or her membership by having the new sponsor verify the membership with the ITS home office. A new membership card and certificate may be secured by submitting the replacement credentials form, which is available from the EdTA website.
The points listed below are the maximum that usually may be earned for a specific assignment. Sponsors may award two additional points for any task performed with exceptional merit, and should use their discretion in awarding points- from zero to the maximum-according to the quality of effort and work accomplished. The following are general guidelines on the awarding of points:
- One point represents approximately ten hours of excellent work. Sponsors should use this formula in awarding points for items not specifically listed in the point system.
- To attain Thespian membership, a student must earn ten points, five of which must be acquired at the school where he or she is to be inducted.
- Thespian membership will be awarded on a democratic basis to all students who qualify according to the requirements of the point system. No student will be elected into the Society. No student will be denied membership if he or she has accumulated the required ten points and has fulfilled all membership requirements.
- A student must participate in at least two full-length productions, or one full-length and two one-acts, or four one-acts. Participation should be in at least two of the listed categories, for example, acting and production.
- Students may earn up to five points toward membership through participation at the middle school level (through an ITS Junior Thespian troupe), in community, children's or professional theatre, or in other activities in the performing arts. They may earn additional points after induction at the sponsor's discretion and upon proof of participation.
- When students qualify for membership, they are notified that they may join the International Thespian Society. Students are informed of the cost of the membership fee and date/site of the induction ceremony. No hazing of student candidates is permitted. Induction ceremonies are in a formal style and occur in the Spring of each year.
After Thespians have attained membership, further recognition for their outstanding work in theatre arts may be indicated by awarding stars for each additional ten points-or one hundred hours-earned (to a maximum of four stars). Students may wear stars on Thespian jewelry to indicate their rating in the troupe. Star ratings should be designated on the student's membership certificate under Thespian Stars Earned.
To become a member of the International Thespians Society, students must earn points by becoming involved in Theatrical Activities. Students' earn points by their participation in various theatrical activities: acting, production assistance (crew), designing and directing, serving the troupe as an officer, seeing shows, etc. This process is similar to the process of obtaining points for union membership for professional theatrical organizations.
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