International Thespian Society

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International Thespian Society
Abbreviation ITS
Motto "Act well your part; there all the honor lies."
Formation 1929
Type NGO
Purpose Dramatical Arts
  • International
Official language
American English

The International Thespian Society (ITS) is an honorary drama organization for high-school theatre students. Currently there are approximately 100,000 active members serving in over 3,900 schools working alongside the 4,600 professional members involved with the society across the United States, Canada, and abroad. A few Thespian alumni are famous names from the entertainment industry, including Tom Hanks, Val Kilmer, James Marsters, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Stephen Schwartz, but most alumni are in a wide variety of industries and excel using creative and analytical thinking, communication and collaboration skills they learned as Thespians.[1]


The International Thespian Society was founded in 1929 in Fairmont, West Virginia.[2] Originally named National Thespians, the society was founded by Dr. Paul Opp, Earnest Bavely and Harry Leaper. National Thespians was an honorary organization for high school theater students who earned membership through participation in their schools' theatre programs. The organization consists of troupes, each linked to a school.The first troupe was formed by Dr Earl Blank at Natrona County High School, which is located in Casper, Wyoming.


At the end of the 1928-1929 school year there were 71 troupes across 26 states. In October, 1929, the first issue of The High School Thespian, ”official organ of National Thespians” was published. The High School Thespian keeps troupes =informed on new rules, events, plays and costume and makeup designs. The National Thespian headquarters was moved to Cincinnati during the year 1935. That same year, the society was renamed The National Thespian Dramatic Honor Society. In June 1941 at Indiana University, the society held its first National High School Drama Conference and Play Production Festival which lasted 6 days. It later became a bi-annual event.

In October 1944, the High School Thespian was renamed Dramatics. In October 1945, The National Thespian Dramatic Honor Society was again renamed the National Thespian Society. For the 32nd International Theater Arts conference a new location was obtained, and the conference was held on the campus of Ball State University. In 1982, the conference was renamed the Thespian Festival. Currently there are over 100,000 active members serving in over 3,900 schools working alongside over 4,600 professional members involved with the society.

Mission and Vision[edit]

The mission of ITS is to honor student excellence in the theater arts; its motto is, "Act well your part; there all the honor lies." by Alexander Pope. It is a division of the Educational Theatre Association.[3]

Relationship with Students[edit]

The ITS inducts high school and middle school students active in theater each fall or spring, with members earning points towards a higher rank.[4] The International Thespian Society honors students who do work in all different aspects of theatre, such as build crew, stage crew, make up tech, costume designer, lighting tech, sound tech, actors, playwrights, directors, choreographers, vocal directors, stage managers, financial directors, marketing, and ushers. If you put in hard work in order to make a production possible then there is a space for you within the society. To be inducted you must earn 10 points by working within your high school or middle school theatre programs.

Point System[edit]

Role Length One Act Length Full Show
Acting: Major role 4 8
Acting:Minor role 3 5
Acting: Walk-on 1 2
Acting: Chorus 1 3
Acting: Dancer 1 3
Acting: Understudy 1 2
Production Stage Manager 4 8
Stage crew 2 4
Lighting Technician 3 6
Lighting Crew 2 3
Set Designer 4 5
Set construction crew 3 5
Costumer 3 6
Costume crew 2 5
Properties manager 3 5
Properties crew 2 3
Sound Technician 3 5
Video Editor 1.5 2
Video crew 1.5 3
Make up manager 3 5
Rehearsal Prompter 2 4
Pianist 3 6
Musicians 2 3
Business manager 4 6
Business Crew 2 4
Publicity Manager 3 5
Publicity crew 2 3
Ticket Manager 2 4
Ticket Crew 1 3
House Manager 2 4
House Crew 1 2
Ushers 1 2
Programs 1 3
Program Crew 1 2
Directing Director 4 8
Assistant Director 3 6
Vocal Director 3 6
Assistant Vocal Director 3 4
Video Producer/Director 2 5
Orchestra or Band Director 3 6
Assistant Orchestra or Band Director 2 5
Choreographer 4 7
Assistant Choreographer 3 5
Writing: Original Play (produced) 5 8
Writing: Original Radio Script (produced) 4 6
Writing: Original TV Script (produced) 4 6
Writing: Original Play ( unproduced) 1 2
Writing: Original Radio Script (unproduced) 0.5 1.5
Writing: Original TV Script (unproduced) 0.5 1.5
Oral interpretation 2
Duet Acting scenes 2
Participation in Theatre Festival/ Competition 3
Attending a performance or festival 1
Assembly Program 1
President 6
Vice President 5
Secretary 4
Treasurer 4
Clerk 4
Website Development / main tenancy 4
Other 2

Award Point System

Rank Points needed
Membership 10
One star 20
Two Stars 30
Three Stars 40
Four Stars 50
Honor Bar 60


The International Thespian Officers (ITO) are student leaders, elected annually at the Leadership Conference, a training event for leaders at the troupe, state, and international level held at the International Thespian Festival. There are six ITO offices: a Chair/International Liaison, a Co-Chair who is in training to become next school year's Chair, and 4 at-large officers representing members from around the USA.[5] In some schools there are 8 officers, President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Web Master, Historian, Tech Representative and Publicity.[6][7]


The International Thespian Officers is a group of student members of the International Thespian Society who are elected by their peers to serve as the voice of the student membership of the organization. They bring the needs of Thespians and suggestions for policy and service changes to the attention of the Educational Theatre Association Board, serve as an integral part of the leadership training program, and represent the Society and take an active role at student-oriented functions such as chapter conferences and the annual International Thespian Festival. The International Thespian Officers remain connected with Thespians from across the country through their website. State Thespian Officers are elected to represent their respective troupes on a state level, and manage such events as State Thespian Festivals and local Junior Thespian Festivals.

Festivals and Events[edit]

Festivals are held annually, at the district, state and national levels. The season culminates with the International Thespian Festival, held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln each June.[8] At "Festival", the "Chapter Select Showcase" showcases troupes qualifying from their respective State Thespian Festivals who have previously qualified from their respective District Thespian Festivals.[9] Main Stage is where adjucators watch shows from the various middle and high school groups in front of an audience of about 3,000, in the Lied Center for Performing Arts. There are auditions for national cast productions, as well as individual events.[10] The Individual Events offered at the Thespian Festival are monologue, duet acting, ensemble acting, solo musical, duet musical, group musical, pantomime, lighting design, scenic design, publicity design, costume design, costume construction, stage management, and short film. Workshops and performances fill the daily schedules of Thespians, while dances and themed chaperone dinners occupy the evenings. Additionally, High School Juniors are given the opportunity to audition for dozens of colleges and universities, and Seniors are given college scholarship opportunities. At the high school level, students can reach Life member status, and receive a bronzed membership card and Pass, for free admission to all high school productions for life.[11]

Junior International Thespian Society[edit]

There is also a Jr. International Thespian Society (or Jr. ITS) for Middle School in grades 6-8.


  1. ^ "International Thespian Society - Cedarburg School District". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  2. ^ "Aliso Niguel Theatre Company - INTERNATIONAL THESPIAN SOCIETY". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  3. ^ "Thespian Awards « Cypress Ranch Theatre | The Backstage Pass". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  4. ^ "Volunteer Spotlight: Thespians". Broadway Cares. 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  5. ^ "Cache County School District". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  6. ^ "May/June 2013 | Mercy High School". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  7. ^ "Evergreen Valley High School: News Archive". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  8. ^ "Brent International School Manila | Recent Events". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  9. ^ "Professional Prompt Book for Audition". Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  10. ^ Just a High School Play - E. Eugene Perry - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  11. ^ "Honor Organizations Chartered forNCS Drama Students - Nashville Christian School". 2013-09-06. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 

External links[edit]