EdTA brings its mission to life through events: the International Thespian Festival (ITF) for theatre students, the Theatre Education Conference (TEC) for educators, and dozens of student festivals and teacher professional development events hosted by state chapters. In 2022, EdTA’s national events returned in person for the first time since 2019 — and the excitement was palpable.
“For me, ITF was a week of reminding me of the joy and excitement of what we do as theatre educators,” said one ITF attendee. “Getting to spend a week with other people who are as passionate as [me] was a balm for my soul after a rough few years.”
“This was an amazing, necessary experience,” noted a TEC attendee. “I have been teaching for 20 years and really needed this reset after getting through the pandemic.”
EdTA’s flagship event, ITF attracted 2,799 students and their teachers to a new location, Indiana University Bloomington. The weeklong celebration of student work featured nearly 300 workshops, six main stage productions, 18 one-acts chosen by EdTA’s chapters, and a featured performance by Pathway grant recipient school Tri-Cities High School.
Additionally, ITF serves as the culminating step in the International Thespian Excellence Awards — Thespys® for short — which recognize the highest level of achievement in school theatre. At least 12,000 students participated in 36 chapter-level qualifying events during the 2021-2022 school year, and 1,214 students were judged in the final round at ITF. Of those, 414 earned superior scores, and the 75 students with the top scores in their categories earned Thespy Awards. All were celebrated at a red-carpet awards showcase to close ITF.
In September, TEC brought together 263 teachers to the entertainment capital of the world: Los Angeles. An additional 34 teachers participated in the conference virtual experience, for nearly 300 total attendees. In addition to professional development workshops addressing teachers’ needs in the moment, the conference featured a keynote by Oscar-winning deaf actor Troy Kotsur (Coda), who regaled the audience. The event concluded with a celebration highlighting the achievements of EdTA award winners.
In all, more than 40,000 students and teachers attended state and local events organized by EdTA chapters, providing mission moments to members from Alabama to Wyoming.