Paul F. Opp (1895-1984)

Fairmont, West Virginia

Dr. Paul F. Opp was one of three co-founders of the National Thespian Society. In 1925, Dr. Opp organized Alpha Psi Omega, an honorary dramatics fraternity for college students for which he was the national director. Four years later, with funding secured through Alpha Psi Omega, Dr. Opp, along with Harry Leeper and Earl Blank, developed a framework for the National Thespians and wrote the original constitution.

Dr. Opp was teaching at Fairmont State College in West Virginia in 1929. Thus, two of the first Thespian troupes were East Fairmont High School—Harry Leeper’s school—and Fairmont Senior High School. In the society’s first year, Dr. Opp helped recruit seventy-one troupes nationally. By 1935, the membership was nearing one thousand troupes and a headquarters building in Cincinnati was established. Dr. Opp continued to play an active role in the leadership of the organization well into the 1950s.

In 1978 Dr. Opp and his co-founders attended a fiftieth anniversary celebration at the International Theatre Arts Conference and were presented the International Director’s Award, an annual award established in their honor.

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