Thespian Troupes in Iowa and Arizona will get to attend the International Thespian Festival (ITF) thanks to the Educational Theatre Association’s Send a Troupe to Festival grant, which will cover the troupes’ travel and registration expenses. The recipients are John R. Mott High School Thespian Troupe 417 in Postville, Iowa and Westwood High School Thespian Troupe 7803 in Mesa, Arizona.
This year, an additional troupe will have the opportunity to participate thanks to the generosity of Steve Houghton, the former Assistant Director for EdTA, and his wife Dawn, who now reside in Kewadin, Michigan. They made a generous donation to benefit a troupe in Michigan. The recipient is Heritage High School Thespian Troupe 5491 in Saginaw.
John R. Mott High School’s community of Postville, Iowa is home to a meatpacking plant that attracts workers and their families from all over the world. “Some of our students come into the district with little or no English language skills,” says Troupe Director Derek Friederich. “Our program has been beneficial for those who are learning or have recently learned the English language.” Friederich believes attending ITF will provide an exceptional learning experience for his students. “As a newly reformed troupe, it would be great to engage with other Thespians, see how other troupes operate, and to make new relationships.”
Westwood High School’s burgeoning theatre program facilitates a student-run musical theatre summer camp for elementary students and participates in Shakespeare performance programs. “Attending ITF will be a tremendous educational opportunity for my students,” says Troupe Director Jeana Whitaker. “Attending workshops, experiencing main stage productions, and competing in their respective events will open up worlds to them that they do not have the privilege of experiencing in Arizona.”
The Heritage High School theatre program, despite receiving no school funding, has grown from 11 members in 2013 to 38 this year. They produce four shows annually, and are very active in their school and community. Troupe Director Lori Duncan says that by attending ITF, “our students will be able to grow their skills as actors and technicians, and even gain completely new ones as they work with, and learn from, professionals in all aspects of theatre.”