Induction Ceremonies

A table with a blue tablecloth with the international thespian society logo embroidered on itThespian Induction Ceremonies

There are three versions of the Thespian induction ceremony that vary in complexity, length, and formality. The fourth ceremony is for Junior Thespians. Below are the basic outlines and speeches for the different induction ceremonies.

This brief ceremony is the suggested minimum for the induction of new members. All of the ceremony models may be freely adapted with elements from the other versions.

Before the ceremony:

  1. Induct students following the procedures provided in the appropriate troupe handbook.
  2. Notify the students (in writing) of the plans for the induction ceremony.

A. Introduce the proceedings with a short history of the organization.
“It is my pleasure to welcome you here to share in the induction of ___ new members into ___________(school name), Troupe No. ___________ of the International Thespian Society. Through their work in theatre, the candidates have earned the right to become members of the International Thespian Society.

“The Society was established in 1929. The organization is named for Thespis, the ancient Greek who, according to legend, stepped out from the chorus and became the first actor. The Society’s guiding principle is a dedication to excellence in educational theatre. The International Thespian Society honors those students who do theatre well.”

B. Read the accomplishments of each student and hand each student his or her membership card, certificate, and Thespian induction pin.

If time and circumstances allow:

C. Review the season.

D. Have the new members stand and say the pledge.
“I now ask all new members of Thespian Troupe ____ to stand and say the pledge with me (or “repeat after me”).

“I promise to uphold / the aims and ideals of the International Thespian Society. / I am a student of theatre and excellence is my ideal. / I promise to perform my part as well as I can; / to accept praise and criticism with grace; / to cooperate with my fellow Thespians / and work for the good of the troupe; / and to share my love of theatre.

“Congratulations and welcome to the International Thespian Society. Always remember our motto, which comes from Alexander Pope’s ‘Essay on Man’: ‘Act well your part; there all the honor lies.’”

(If time does not permit the recitation of the pledge at the induction of the new members, that should be done at the first troupe meeting after the induction.)

E. If the induction of the members is part of an awards ceremony, conferring letters, stars, bars, Honor Thespian ranks, and awards can follow.

F. In spring, if the officers for the coming year have been elected, an introduction of the new officers may take place at this time (see language in the Standard Membership Induction Ceremony, which follows.)

This text should be considered a model that can be adapted to suit the troupe director’s circumstances. All of the ceremony models may be freely adapted with elements from the other versions.

Before the ceremony:

  1. Induct students following the procedures provided in the appropriate troupe handbook.
  2. Notify the students (in writing) of the plans for the induction ceremony.
  3. Have the membership roll at the ceremony and have the charter on display.
  4. Divide the speeches among the officers of the troupe. (They may either memorize or read the speeches.)

A. Welcome the guests; introduce special guests or representatives.

B. Introduce the officers of the troupe.

C. Introduce the proceedings with a short history of the organization.
“Friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you here to share in the induction of ___ members into ___________(school name)’s Troupe No. ____ of the International Thespian Society. Through hard work, sacrifice, and dedication, the candidates have earned the right to be called Thespians. It is a title of honor, signifying a commitment to an art as old as humanity.

“Commitment to theatre is what the International Thespian Society is all about. The Society was established in 1929 by a group of college and high school teachers in Fairmont, West Virginia. They named their organization for Thespis, the Greek who, according to legend, was the first actor; their guiding principle was a dedication to excellence in theatre arts in
secondary schools. In the ___ years since, the Society has grown into an international organization with more than 2.2 million members, but its goals haven’t changed; the International Thespian Society still strives to make education and arts programs places for good theatre and to honor those students who do theatre well. The Society is a service as well as an honorary organization.

“We join here for a rite of renewal and celebration.”

D. Introduce and read from the speech delivered by playwright Robert Patrick at the Thespian Society’s fiftieth anniversary
celebration during the 1978 Thespian Festival.
“For 20,000 years we humans have had what we called ‘impossible’ dreams: space travel; time travel; telepathy; to live other lives; to raise the dead; to create living creatures; to live forever; eternal youth; unity with our fellow humans.

“Philosophers and spiritualists have used magic, alchemy, intellect, voodoo, and physics in quest of these goals. Some have been attained by science. Some still evade us. Some, even science calls ‘impossible.’

“And yet for all these thousands of years, we have already possessed those treasures, whenever there was an empty space, a poet, actors and an audience: in theatre.

“Space travel? The bare stage behind me, with a few words and a pantomimist’s skill, becomes the surface of the moon or the center of the Earth. On this stage we can be in Arabia or Iceland, Okinawa, Elsinore, Brigadoon, Oklahoma, the South
Pacific, or Our Town.

“Time travel? On any evening, afternoon, or early morning we can return to ancient Egypt, classical Greece, imperial Rome, Elizabethan England, the France of Joan of Arc, California in the gold rush—or in one play travel from Cairo to Paris to Istanbul to Washington, D.C.

“Raise the dead? In any or all of these times or places, people live again: Sir Thomas More, Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Elizabeth herself—plus a million casual strangers some playwright met and liked or despised or wondered about centuries ago.

“But we do not merely watch these people, uncomprehending, as tourists. At those moments when real living people would stand stuttering, stammering, or trembling with illiterate rage, these fascinating people open their mouths and speak their thoughts aloud: Hamlet comes on and in ten words speaks the tormenting choice that underlies the ecstasies and agonies of every adolescent. Frankie Adams articulates the confusions and discoveries that mark the end of childhood; King Lear screams the anger of old age; and Eliza Doolittle, happily awake in bed, peeks from under the covers and confides in us that she could have danced all night!

“But excuse me—there never was a Hamlet, a Frankie Adams, a king called Lear, nor an Eliza Doolittle. …And yet they have appeared alive and joyous in literally thousands of places. Simultaneously on a hundred stages at once around the world, these absolute hallucinations recur! We have seen the creation of life so often we have forgotten it is a miracle.

“Telepathy? It’s telepathic travel in the minds of geniuses through ancient and imaginary lives of forefathers and phantoms for all eternity; what are the scientists and the statesmen troubling themselves for? Aren’t they sitting there in the dark beside us as we all, side by side, rank on rank—people who might not even be willing to talk to one another outside the theatre—laugh together and gasp together, and are not even ashamed to cry because we can hear that others in the dark around us are crying? Isn’t it another kind of mindreading, a growing together of spirits that makes 2,000 people laugh simultaneously at the silliest slapstick joke?

“These incredible treasures are everywhere—everywhere that there is an empty space, a poet, actors, and an audience. When they ask you, ‘What is theatre for?’ simply tell them: ‘It does what every other field of human endeavor is struggling to do.’”

E. Tell about Thespis and the Society.
“During the sixth century B.C., one of the writers of tragedy who won the approval of the priests at the Festival of Dionysus was Thespis. About 535 B.C. a new dimension was added to drama when Thespis, a prominent leader of the chorus, stepped from that group and recited portions of the drama alone, thereby becoming the first actor. We also believe that it was he who first used masks so that a person could portray more than one part.

“In honor of this early Greek playwright, all actors are called Thespians. In his honor we are the International Thespian Society. We have as our emblem the two masks of comedy and tragedy etched in colors of gold and blue bound together with the Thespian ‘T.’ Wearers of this emblem should remember that it represents a proud and dignified heritage, and that this heritage is now entrusted to us.”

F. Review the season.

G. B. Read the accomplishments of each student and hand each student his or her membership card, certificate, and Thespian induction pin.

H. Have the new members stand and say the pledge.
“I now ask all new members of Thespian Troupe ____ to stand and say the pledge with me (or “repeat after me”).

“I promise to uphold / the aims and ideals of the International Thespian Society. / I am a student of theatre and excellence is my ideal. / I promise to perform my part as well as I can; / to accept praise and criticism with grace; / to cooperate with my fellow Thespians / and work for the good of the troupe; / and to share my love of theatre.”

“Congratulations and welcome to the International Thespian Society. Always remember our motto, which comes from Alexander Pope’s ‘Essay on Man’: ‘Act well your part; there all the honor lies.’”

I. If the induction of the members is part of an awards ceremony, conferring letters, stars, bars, Honor Thespian ranks, scholar distinctions, and awards can follow.

J. In spring, if the officers for the coming year have been elected, they may be introduced at this time.
“Thespians, the future of our organization depends on the dedication of all members and on the vision and the ingenuity of the officers. The members of our troupe have selected the following officers to direct our activities in the future: (Introduce the officers.)

“It is my honor to confer upon you the charge of your offices in the International Thespian Society. I extend to you the trust of our members and of the Society in striving for the advancement of theatre arts in our education and in our community. Congratulations.”

This text should be considered a model that can be adapted to suit the troupe director’s circumstances. All of the ceremony models may be freely adapted with elements from the other versions.

Before the ceremony:

  1. Induct students following the procedures provided in the troupe handbook.
  2. Notify the students (in writing) of the plans for the induction ceremony.
  3. Have the membership roll at the ceremony and have the charter on display.
  4. Divide the speeches among the officers of the troupe. (They may either memorize or read the speeches.)

A. Welcome the guests; introduce special guests or representatives.
“Good evening. My name is _____ and I am the ________ of Troupe __________ of ___________(school name). We have some very special guests with us this evening, and as I introduce these guests, we would appreciate it if each would stand so that we may recognize you. (Introduce guests.) Thank you. At this time I would like to introduce the officers of our troupe.” (Introduce troupe officers.)

B. Introduce the proceedings with a short history of the organization. (This may be done with one or more speakers.)
“Friends, parents, instructors, directors, and special guests, it is a pleasure to welcome you here to share in the induction of ___ members into ___________(school name)’s Troupe ___________ of the International Thespian Society. Through hard work, sacrifice, and dedication, the candidates have earned sufficient points on a scale dictated by the International Thespian Society to have the right to be called Thespians. It is a title of honor, signifying a commitment to an art as old as humanity.

“Commitment to theatre is what the International Thespian Society is all about. The Society was established in 1929 at Fairmont State College, Fairmont, West Virginia, by Dr. Earl Blank, who was then the director of dramatics at the high school in Casper, Wyoming; Dr. Paul Opp, a member of the college faculty; and Harry Leeper, a teacher at East Fairmont
High School.

“They named their organization the National Thespian Society for Thespis, the Greek who, according to legend, was the first actor; their guiding principle was a dedication to excellence in theatre arts in secondary schools. Seventy-one schools became charter members of the society. The first national convention and election of officers was held in 1930. From this modest beginning, the organization enjoyed steady growth, and in the next five years, the membership had increased to 320 troupes. The national office was moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1935. By the time the Society had celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, there were 3,190 troupes on its rolls.

“At that point, the Society had grown into an international organization with more than 2.2 million members and troupes in every state and many foreign countries. The Society sponsors state, regional, national, and international theatre conferences where its members can learn more about the art and craft of theatre, perform and see outstanding performances, and audition for scholarships.

“In 1989, the governing board of the Thespian Society formed the Educational Theatre Association to help it provide a broader range of services to theatre educators. The Educational Theatre Association is a professional organization for theatre teachers that includes in its membership all Thespian troupe directors. Its board now operates the International Thespian Society, continuing its ___-year tradition of honoring and serving theatre students and their teachers.

“The goals of the International Thespian Society haven’t changed. It still strives to give young adults a place for outstanding theatre where the standards of excellence in theatre arts will be advanced, and to honor those students who do theatre well. And it continues to be guided by the principles of its founders: a belief that participation in the arts is an essential means of widening students’ cultural horizons and enriching their lives.”

C. Introduce the candle lighting ceremony.
“Let us pause to reflect on the many aspects of the evolution of our art, which encompasses all of the major forms of human expression. The history of theatre is the history of all people. It is the continuing search to find the answers to the awesome mysteries that motivate the human personality. Just as our early ancestors dramatized a crisis in their lives, so today we come to the theatre to search for answers to the process through which the theatre arts have become a part of our cultural heritage. To recall and pay tribute to these arts, we begin the lighting of the candles.”

The first speaker may read the speech and then light the candle, or an individual performance may precede each of the speeches (an acting monologue for the memory of Thespis, a musical solo before the speech about music, etc.). For safety and reliability, electric candles are recommended. Open flames may be used at the discretion of the director, provided local fire codes permit them.

“During the sixth century B.C., one of the writers of tragedy who won the approval of the priests at the Festival of Dionysus was Thespis. About 535 B.C. a new dimension was added to drama when Thespis, who was a prominent leader of the Greek chorus, stepped from that group and recited portions of the drama alone. In the moment he separated himself from the chorus, Thespis became the first actor. We also believe that it was he who first used masks so that a person could portray more than one part.

“In honor of this early Greek writer, all actors are called Thespians. In his honor we are the International Thespian Society. We have as our emblem the two masks of comedy and tragedy etched in colors of gold and blue bound together with the Thespian ‘T.’ I light this candle in memory of Thespis. I light it to remind the wearers of the masks that the emblem represents a proud and dignified heritage, and that this heritage is now entrusted to us.”

The first speaker lights the candle from which all the other candles will be lit. Then the speaker stands aside for the dance-pantomime performance and/or speech.

“No one knows when people began to dance. Archaeologists believe that people have always danced. To pacify the frightening forces of nature and to express joy in the gentle beauty around them, primitive people, by means of rhythmic movement and pantomime, communed with a being that both protected and threatened them.

“Early people realized that everything around them had a rhythmic pattern. They saw this in the path of the sun, in the changing seasons, in the movement of animals, and in their own heartbeats. In their attempt to understand their world and to worship their gods, they imitated those rhythms and developed the earliest known form of performance. When a hunter wished to boast of his skill, he leaped into the circle about the fire and relived his exploits. To the primitive mind, this was magic; to us, it is pantomime.

“Wherever people lived, the dance/drama developed. As the intellectual powers of the human being became more acute, the dance became more complex. Gradually, through the ages, people learned to live in two worlds. In addition to the savage world of reality in which people worked and fought for existence, people created another of rhythm and imagination which
expressed in dance and action their emotions, prayers, hopes, dreams, and sometimes simply the joys of the human existence. I light this candle from the Thespian candle in honor of the art of acting without words—dance and pantomime.”

The speaker lights the candle from the Thespian candle (and either places it in a pre-assigned holder or holds the candle) and stands aside for the performance and/or speech about music.

“Music is the language of time and space. From the prehistoric era to the present moment, music is a record of human feelings. Early people responded to the environment about them, finding their music in the natural world.

“People detected pitch in the cries of animals, and tone quality in the wailing of the wind. They discovered rhythm in their own footsteps. The first songs were shouts of joy and fear, and these shouts echoed again and again in triumphs and defeats, thus releasing people’s innermost feelings. For the first musical instruments, there were two sticks banging simultaneously
or stones clapped together in repeated beats. The music talked to gods or communicated with others through hand clapping, stomping, shouting, and the use of instruments.

“The beginnings of music are buried with the countless centuries, but through the persistence of that mysterious inner force that requires all people to express themselves, humanity has found musical form in tone quality, pitch, and rhythm. I light this candle in honor of the musical expression of ideas and feelings that enhance so much of theatre today.”

The speaker lights the candle from the Thespian candle and stands aside for the performance and/or speech about speech.

“Pantomime and rhythm were not sufficient for early people who were endowed with an intellect. Even in a desolate existence, people sought to communicate ideas to other minds. Thus, people became adventurers, daring to enter the realm of reasoning and creativity.

“In this new world, words could become symbols for thoughts, and as a result, speech became a part of the total experience of the human race. It was enough for other creatures to communicate danger or need through chirps or calls, but it was not enough for human beings, who wished to express concepts that were only imagined.

“Today, while we can touch the past through speech and reach into our imaginings of the future with speech, perhaps what is even more astounding is that we can reveal our thoughts, hopes, and inspirations to other people through that same medium.

“I light this candle in honor of speech, which lifts human beings from ordinary reality to entire worlds beyond, especially the worlds created on the stage.”

The speaker lights the candle from the Thespian candle and stands aside for the performance and/or speech about dramatic literature.

“In our western culture, dramatic literature grew in part out of the worship of Dionysus, the youthful god of wine and revelry, and of crops and vegetation. Because of the importance of this deity to the ancient Greeks, they honored him each year with elaborate festivals, during which a chorus of men dressed as satyrs, mythical beings who were half goat and half man, and danced about an altar chanting his praise. Thus was born the Greek chorus, and it became a central focus in the development of the powerful tragedies of the golden age of Greek drama.

“Around 600 B.C., playwrights presented their plays in annual festivals in the great theatre of Dionysus at Athens. Each hoped to win the approval of the priests whose privilege it was to choose the best play and to bestow a prize upon the writer.

“I light this candle in honor of dramatic literature, each script depicting the agonies and comedies of the human drama and providing the map to guide the process of creating theatre.”

The speaker lights the candle from the Thespian candle and stands aside for the performance and/or speech about the theatre.

“In a very real sense, the theatre today knows no bounds. While primitive people pantomimed around the fire, and the Greek actor portrayed his agony of spirit in the dancing circle, the modern performer presents his soul searching on a stage, the seeing place, and in an auditorium, the hearing place.

“The theatre speaks to all of us, and at the same time it speaks for all of us. It is a critical voice, exhorting people to become aware of the world in which they live, and to pass judgment upon it. It is a social voice, exhibiting both our nobility and our pettiness. Most of all, it is a prophetic voice.

“The events that affect our future are given form through the use of the techniques of the modern theatre. The theatre of today has accepted the challenge of its time. It is stripping away the masks of Thespis and is revealing the complexities of the human condition with an uncompromising vigor and honesty.

“Theatre has outgrown the confines of the seeing place. No building can contain the impact of this most powerful force that brings together all forms of art and artistic achievement. Truly, to paraphrase Shakespeare, all the world is our stage, and we men and women are its players.

“I light this candle in honor of all that is drama, from the use of artistic lighting to focus attention, to the painting of the scenery or the sculpture of a costume or the makeup on an actor’s face, from the soundless movements of acting to the rhythmic movements of dance, from the playwright’s script that will heighten our awareness of the world to the spoken speech, I honor all the arts that are theatre.”

The speaker lights this last candle from the Thespian candle and stands aside for the speaker who will read the accomplishments of each of the students who have earned the right to become Thespians. Each student may be given a candle, which they will light from the Thespian candle after they have received their membership card, certificate, and Thespian induction pin.

D. Introduce new members and review their accomplishments.
“The following students have met the requirements for membership in the International Thespian Society, an honor and a reward for their participation in the theatre program at this school. As I read your name and your accomplishments that have earned you this honor, please step forward for your membership card, certificate, pin, and candle; and please light your candle at the Thespian candle.”

Depending on the amount of time—and number of students and people to help hand out the certificates, and membership cards, and pins—the following may be said:
“This certificate serves as evidence of the honor you have received for helping to promote the theatre arts program in this school.

“This membership card is your identification as a Thespian. This will serve as a reminder of the responsibilities you assumed when accepting membership in the Society.”

“This induction pin of gold and blue will indicate to others that you are part of an honored international group. May you wear it with pride.”

E. With candles lit, the pledge is introduced and the new members may read or repeat the Thespian pledge.
“While membership in the society is an honor, it is also evidence of your continuing desire to work toward higher standards for theatre productions in education and arts programs. Therefore, membership places upon you the obligation of performing your best with the knowledge that greater honors come to those who accept greater responsibilities through cooperation with others.

“I now ask all new members of Thespian Troupe _____ to say the pledge with me (“or repeat after me”).

“I promise to uphold / the aims and ideals of the International Thespian Society. / I am a student of theatre and excellence is my ideal. / I promise to perform my part as well as I can; / to accept praise and criticism with grace; / to cooperate with my fellow thespians / and work for the good of the troupe; / and to share my love of theatre.”

“The pledge that you have just taken binds you to the principles and ideals of the International Thespian Society. You are to do the tasks assigned to you. You are to cooperate with your troupe officers and fellow students as well as your teachers and administrators in helping to raise the standards of excellence in all areas of your experience. You are to refrain from
any action that may hinder the work of your troupe. You are to conduct yourselves so that you may gain the respect of your school (or program) and your community.

“By the authority delegated to me by the International Thespian Society, I now declare you members of Troupe No. _____ of ___________(school name).

“Congratulations and welcome to the International Thespian Society. Always remember our motto which comes from Alexander Pope’s ‘Essay on Man’: ‘Act well your part; there all the honor lies.’”

Lead audience in applause.

“Please step to the membership roll, and hand your candle to _____________, who will hold it while you sign your name.”

When members are finished signing the roll and lined up again, the speaker may say:
“If the glow of the achievements of ages past in all art forms is to continue to brighten the path of humanity and help civilization grow, then the theatre must remain a vigorous part of that enlightenment and growth by adding new talent to its ranks, talent that will justify the existence and continuance of drama. We welcome you as new Thespians and urge you to use your talents so that our candles may shine more brilliantly as you act well your parts. We have confidence in your ability to achieve success. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy your association with this organization. As you now extinguish your candles, resolve to always let the flame glow in your hearts.”

F. If the officers for the coming year have been elected, they may be introduced at this time.
“Thespians, the future of our organization depends on the dedication of all members and on the vision and the ingenuity of the officers. The members of our troupe have selected the following officers to direct our activities in the future: (Introduce the officers.)

“It is my honor to confer upon you the charge of your offices in the International Thespian Society. I extend to you the trust of our members and of the Society in striving for the advancement of theatre arts in education and in our community. Congratulations.”

G. Introduce any other performances that students may have prepared, give out the rest of the awards if any are to be given, introduce the guest speaker, and/or give one of the concluding sentences:

  1. “This concludes our induction (awards) ceremony this evening. Thank you for attending this ceremony; your continued support and appreciation of our accomplishments serve to strengthen our society.”
  2. “It is my pleasure to invite you to remain for refreshments and to greet our new members.” (Outline plans for reception.)
  3. “We are pleased to have parents, friends, and special guests with us on this occasion. May we extend to you a cordial invitation to return for other induction ceremonies and also to attend our future production(s).” (Giving details, if available.)

The Junior Thespian induction ceremony may be easily adapted to fit each troupe’s situation. For example, either the troupe director and/or the troupe officers may perform the ceremony. The ceremony may be approached informally with improvisations or interspersing scenes, or more formally with speeches, poetry, and awards. Troupe directors or troupe members may use elements and ideas from either the Brief Membership Induction Ceremony or the Standard Membership Induction Ceremony described above, but it is suggested that the Formal Membership Induction Ceremony be reserved for secondary schools.

Before the ceremony:

  1. Induct students following the procedures provided in the Junior Thespian troupe handbook.
  2. Notify the students (in writing) of the plans for the induction ceremony.

A. Introduce the proceedings with a short history of the organization and discussion of the importance of theatre.
“It is my pleasure to welcome you here to share in the induction of ___ new members in the ___________(school name)’s Junior Thespian Troupe _______________.

“Since 1929 the International Thespian Society, the student honorary division of the Educational Theatre Association, has worked to promote theatre arts in education. The organization is named for Thespis, the Greek who, according to legend, stepped out from the chorus and became the first actor.

“Students become members by earning points for their work. Junior Thespian membership is granted for the performance of meritorious work in theatre arts that meets the International Thespian Society’s guidelines. Points are earned for hours spent in rehearsal and performance, working on production crews, working in the box office, doing committee work, and helping with Junior Thespian projects.

“Just as points can be earned in many different areas of the theatre, theatre provides many different areas of learning. Not only does theatre serve as a bridge that connects to the other fine arts disciplines of dance, music, and painting, but also into such areas as history, literature, science, math, psychology, home economics, drafting, industrial arts, marketing, computer science, and others. Theatre also stimulates creativity and problem-solving skills.

“Involvement in theatre builds confidence in students, and it enhances students’ abilities to work in groups toward a common goal. Theatre helps students develop self-discipline and encourages commitment to a cause.

“For some, theatre could provide a career path; however, for most, it is a creative and social outlet. It makes no difference: for the student, theatre in school is an enormously valuable experience.

“We are honored, therefore, to present membership to the following students who have fulfilled the requirements through their deserving work in the theatre and through Junior Thespian activities.

“When I read your name, please receive your membership card, certificate, and induction pin.”

(Read the names and review the accomplishments of students earning membership.)

“Would the new inductees please repeat the Thespian pledge after me:

“I promise to uphold / the aims and ideals of the International Thespian Society. / I am a student of theatre and excellence is my ideal. / I promise to perform my part as well as I can; / to accept praise and criticism with grace; / to cooperate with my fellow thespians / and work for the good of the troupe; / and to share my love of theatre.”

“Congratulations, and welcome to membership in the International Thespian Society as Junior Thespians. Always remember the International Thespian Society motto, which comes from Alexander Pope’s ‘Essay on Man’: ‘Act well your part; there all the honor lies.’”

As an alternative to the text above, or to supplement it, the troupe director might present a brief history of theatre:
“Actors are called Thespians in honor of the first actor, Thespis, who emerged from the ancient Greek chorus and became an individual character in the play. Theatre is said to be more than 6,000 years old. The priests of Egypt created the first dramatic literature with highly emotional religious hymns. Later, in Greece, drama evolved and flourished, becoming an integral part of the lives and culture of the people.

“Theatre declined during the Roman era, however, and was eventually banned by the church. Curiously enough, the Christian church was responsible for the rebirth of drama in Europe more than a thousand years later. During that time—the Dark Ages—most people could not read or write, and so priests began acting out scenes from the Bible for the benefit of the masses.

“With the coming of the Renaissance, drama moved out of the churches and into the courtyards, reaching new heights with the plays of the immortal William Shakespeare during the Elizabethan period.

“Today, we are in an era of more realistic theatre. Modern plays attempt to portray life honestly, whether comic or tragic. As young people of today, you are part of the living theatre. Those of you who have earned membership will be inducted as members of Junior Thespian Troupe ___ of the International Thespian Society.”

The troupe director may draw freely from the various versions to create a ceremony that is suitable to his or her school’s circumstances; however, the formal induction ceremony should be reserved for students of senior high school age.

Some thoughts from the authors: There is nothing sacred about these ceremony texts; they should be considered models that the troupe director can revise and adapt to suit his or her individual circumstances. An induction ceremony can be part of a general awards night, a short, informal celebration, or a formal event.

Suggestions for successful preparation and planning:

  1. The principal, superintendent, school board members and like school officials may be invited to attend and even have a role in the ceremony. For a charter ceremony they should definitely be invited.
  2. Select and adapt a ceremony that fits the available stage, lighting, costuming, and time constraints.
  3. Cast the ceremony just as you would a play and schedule rehearsals.
  4. Notify in writing all students who have earned the honor of Thespian membership by issuing them invitations to the induction ceremony. Students in many formal induction ceremonies are each asked to do an individual performance (monologue, pantomime, dance, musical solo, reading of a piece of their own original script, or a brief presentation on a costume, set, lighting, or makeup design the student has created.) Schedule rehearsals so that these performances and the other activities surrounding these performances can work smoothly together.
  5. Follow the procedures for inducting new student members provided in the appropriate troupe handbook. Remember that the induction of students takes place when the students’ names, information, and membership fees are received by the EdTA National Office. Inductions should be submitted prior to the ceremony, which is the local celebration of induction.
  6. Submit membership forms two to three weeks in advance to ensure a timely delivery of materials. The EdTA National Office will provide a Thespian induction pin and a personalized membership card and certificate for each new member.
  7. In designing decorations for the ceremony, keep in mind that the Thespian colors are blue and gold. Traditional Thespian flowers are blue delphinium and yellow roses. Optional ITS table covers and banners are available for purchase through the online EdTA store.
  8. The use of candles is a traditional but optional part of more formal ITS induction ceremonies. For safety and reliability, electric candles are recommended. Open flames may be used at the discretion of the director, provided school rules and local fire codes permit them. If open flames are used, appropriate safety precautions must be taken.
  9. Prepare the record of accomplishments for each student’s dramatic activities; these will be read at the ceremony.
  10. Publicize the event to all interested parties—parents and relatives, school officials, your faculty colleagues, the general public, and technical and support personnel in the theatre.
  11. Prepare a pre-ceremony press release for the newspapers, radio, and television stations. Include a short history of the troupe and an announcement of the names of the inductees (with parents’ permission, if necessary). Also include an announcement of the time and place of the induction ceremony if it is open to the public.
  12. Prepare a post-ceremony press release complete with a high quality photo and quote from an administrator and/or distinguished guest for maximum public relations impact for your program and recognition for your inductees.
  13. As part of your ceremony, acknowledge student advancement through Honor Thespian, National Honor Thespian, and International Honor Thespian ranks as well as all three scholar distinctions.

 

Acknowledgments
The 1998 revision of the International Thespian Society charter and induction ceremony models was undertaken by a committee consisting of Judy Babcock, Rita Freeberg, and Steve Halper. Special thanks to Judy Babcock for her insights into middle school inductions and to Steve Halper for his valuable input, distribution, and field testing of the document. The committee appreciates the input of the staff of the Educational Theatre Association and the input of troupe directors from around the world.

Special thanks to those troupe directors who sent us their induction ceremony and videotapes of their ceremonies. These ceremonies contain material drawn from many sources, including the various previous versions of the ceremonies published by the International Thespian Society. Grateful acknowledgment is made in particular to Jean E. Donahey, Helen Smith, and Julian Meyers; Steve Halper and Salpointe Catholic High School, Tucson; Bettijane Burger; and Pam Ware.

Share This Page
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Email

Professional Development specifically designed for Theatre Educators!

Learn from working professionals in the field, experts on educational best practices, and one another.