The International Thespian Society (ITS) has been honoring excellence in the work of theatre students since 1929. Thespian troupes serve students in grades nine through twelve. There are at present active ITS troupes in more than 4,000 high schools and middle schools, mostly in the United States and Canada.
Oregon Thespians has been a long-standing Chapter of ITS and maintains a prominent and active presence at national and international EdTA events.
Each troupe is led by a Troupe Director who is a professional member of the Educational Theatre Association. Students earn the 'Thespian' designation by serving 250 or more hours on (SW)2 projects, a certain portion of which must be in a non-acting capacity, and maintaining a 3.0+ GPA.
Oregon Thespians events
The Improvisation Festival is a unique “competition” that provides the opportunity for students to meet and work with others from across the state!
Groups are given a packet with slips of paper with different numbers on them. Each student gets a slip which assigns him or her to different teams. Each team is made up of students who are each from a different school. Some of the slips will be colored to designate a team leader. Sponsors are responsible for selecting students from their groups that could function as the team’s organizer and spokesperson, usually an upperclassman. The teams meet for about a half-hour and work up a 4-minute scene based on a prop and/or prompt provided by the host school. The teams then present their scenes to different judges in different rounds, with different teams in each round. A new prompt and/or scenario is given in each round which will then need to be incorporated into the scene on the fly. Teams have 1 minute to briefly discuss their scene, and will have 4 minutes to perform. Students can also register in the TECH category and be placed in teams of technicians from other schools. Together, this team will be faced with a design challenge and have an opportunity to present their work to judges. Scores are tabulated and five or six teams are selected to perform/present at finals in front of the entire congregation. A panel of three judges scores those scenes and, after a bit of entertainment by the host school, announces the winners. It’s a lighthearted day of fun competition and energetic theatre with some new stuff thrown in for good measure!
The Regional Acting Competition is the largest Oregon Thespians event, involving a large number of students participating in three regions around the state. In the context of Oregon Thespians’ annual roster of events, this is the first step in a student’s effort to be selected to participate in the State Individual Events Showcase during the State Festival, and qualify to participate in the National Individual Events Showcase auditions at the International Thespian Festival in June. Schools participate in one of three regional events: Northwest, Northeast, and Southern.
There are 8 non-musical event categories: Solo Acting (Novice and Experienced), Duet Acting (Comic and Dramatic, Novice and Experienced), Group Acting, and Pantomime. There are 4 musical event categories: Solo, Duet, Small Group and Large Group.
In each category other than Novice, the top 10% scoring entries (or a minimum of 2) in each region are named Showcase Qualifiers and are invited to advance to the State Individual Events Showcase auditions at the State Festival. In Novice categories, only 1 top scoring entry advances. In each category, the next 10% (or those remaining in the top 20%) are recognized as Regional Finalists.
While the day is structured around competition, the spirit of the day is focused on recognition of quality student work, and constructive feedback from qualified adjudicators.
The State Festival is the signature event for Oregon Thespians. It is attended by over 1000 theatre students and teachers from around the state and features several main stage productions, dozens of one act plays, workshops and presentations. Schools may apply to have one of their Main Stage Productions featured at the conference as one of the top high school shows of the year. All troupes attending participate in some significant way. Participating troupes may bring one-act plays or scenes to showcase in the One Act Marathon, or present a troupe-sponsored Workshop. Workshops are also offered by local and national theatre professionals and college students and professors. The qualifying top 10% in each category from the Regional Acting Competitions audition for the State Showcase at the State Conference. Judges select a minimum of two scenes or as many as 20% per category to perform at the State Showcase. Entries deemed superior at their Regional Competitions, by virtue of their advancement to the final round of auditions at State, are also eligible to enter the Individual Events competition at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska in June.
Technical Theatre events are also conducted, including a range of events in which students can advance for adjudication and recognition at both the State and National levels.