Harmon Beekman has had a lasting impact on educational theatre in his own school and town and nationally. While teaching in the Taylor, Michigan, school district for twenty-one years, he designed and set up a complete program of secondary school theatre courses; developed and taught an extracurricular program in creative dramatics for elementary school students; designed a theatre program combining pantomime and American Sign Language; began a summer theatre program for teenagers; produced an annual touring children’s play; and directed more than 150 school productions. Among those shows was one written by Mr. Beekman, called Together in Silence, which his troupe presented at the 1982 Thespian Festival.
Mr. Beekman first became involved with what was then called the National Thespian Society in 1966 when he chartered Thespian Troupe 2474 at Taylor Center High School. From 1968 to 1971 he was Michigan’s state Thespian director, a period during which he organized that state’s first annual state Thespian theatre conference. He became regional director for Michigan and Indiana in 1971 and was elected to the Board of Directors in 1972. In 1974 he became assistant international director and, in 1976, international director. (Those titles were used at the time for the positions that are now called president and vice president.)
Among Mr. Beekman’s contributions to EdTA were the development of the first state director resource guide and the implementation of leadership training programs. The organization’s headquarters building on Central Parkway in Cincinnati (1976-99) was purchased during his term as assistant international director and the mortgage was paid off, after a brisk fundraising campaign, during his term as international director.