WHAT IS A THESPIAN?
The International Thespian Society (ITS), an honorary group for middle and high school theatre students, is a division of the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA). The mission of ITS is to honor student excellence in the theatre arts. Thespian troupes are just a component of a school’s theatre program. ITS membership offers many valuable benefits, services, and opportunities to troupe directors and Thespians alike.
A Thespian troupe is an honor society that recognizes and rewards excellence among the participants in the theatre arts program. Induction into the International Thespian Society is an honorable achievement. The troupe is not a club, fraternity/sorority, or secret society within the school.
The Thespian troupe and the school theatre department or program are not one and the same. The Thespian troupe is a subset of the theatre arts program. It is the student honor society, and membership is earned. Any student may be a member of the theatre program, but only students who have been officially inducted and registered with the EdTA home office are members of the theatre program and the International Thespian Society.
Benefits of Thespian Induction
• Membership in the only international honor society for high school theatre arts students—a recognized demonstration of achievement and a valuable addition to college and employment applications.
• A one-year (nine issues) subscription to Dramatics magazine (a $35 value).
• Leadership opportunities at the troupe, chapter, and international levels.
• Eligibility for scholarships through EdTA chapters and the home office.
• Eligibility to apply for student grants, including the Doug Finney Festival Grants (juniors and seniors), which are need-based grants to help Thespians attend the ITS Festival.
• Eligibility to audition at the Thespian Festival for admission to college theatre programs.
• Eligibility to submit original plays to the Thespian Playworks program.
• Eligibility to audition for chapter Individual Events programs and qualify for the National Individual Events Showcase (NIES) at the Thespian Festival.
• Eligibility to receive Thespian graduation and honor items (honor cords, guards, point stars, pins, etc.).
• Eligibility to advance to Thespian ranks of Honor, National Honor, or International Honor Thespian.
HOW DO I BECOME A THESPIAN?
Membership is granted for the performance of meritorious work in theatre arts that meets the Society’s general guidelines. High school student induction eligibility requirements and procedures are detailed in the Thespian Troupe Handbook.
Students meet one important induction requirement by earning Thespian points. These are awarded based on the quality and quantity of work they perform in theatre and related disciplines. "Quality" may include the caliber of the work done and the educational value of the experience. The "Official High School Thespian Point System" provides recommended guidelines for awarding points.
Troupe directors must notify theatre arts program participants that records of their activities will be maintained and that Thespian membership may be conferred when qualifications have been met. The troupe director makes the final decision regarding the awarding of Thespian points.
The following are general guidelines for the awarding of Thespian points:
• Inductees must earn 10 points.
• In general, 1 point represents approximately 10 hours of excellent work.
• Induction points should be earned through participation in at least two full-length productions, or one full-length and two one-acts, or four one-acts.
• Induction points should be earned in at least two of the listed categories, for example, acting and production.
• Thespian membership will be made available on an equitable basis to all students who qualify. No student will be elected into the Society. No student will be denied membership if he or she has accumulated the required 10 points and has fulfilled all membership requirements. Eligible students are invited to join the International Thespian Society. Induction invitation cards are available from the EdTA home office. Students should be informed of the cost of the one-time induction fee and date/site of the induction ceremony. No hazing of student candidates is permitted. Troupe directors induct students by submitting their names, contact information, and induction fees to the EdTA home office. Induction ceremonies are local celebrations of induction. Ceremonies ranging from the very informal to formal styles are described in the "Ceremonies" document available on the EdTA website. See the Thespian Troupe Handbook for details on the induction process.
Troupe directors can recognize exceptional Thespians after induction by awarding Thespian stars for each additional 10 points earned. Additional Thespian honor ranks are awarded at 60, 120, and 180 points. Detailed information is available in the Thespian Troupe Handbook.