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ITF 2024 Monday Recap

Zachary Noah Piser at the Opening Ceremony of ITF 2024

The 2024 International Thespian Festival (ITF) is in full swing, and things kicked off Sunday night with an opening ceremony celebrated across two venues. Our star-studded emcees Zachary Noah Piser (KPOP, Dear Even Hansen, and Wicked); Ebony Blake and John Skelley (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) joined Executive Director Dr. Jenn Katona to welcome Thespians and set the stage for 11 amazing troupe performances and over 4,000 attendees – and that was just night one!

What’s Happening at ITF

Monday, workshops were in full swing along with Main Stage, Chapter Select One-Acts, 24-Hour Plays performances, Thespy adjudications, and discussions with the creative teams behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Puffs – just to name a few. So whether you’re with us in Bloomington or following along from home, let’s dive into the day’s activities.

Workshop Takeaways

With 250 workshops throughout the week at ITF, there’s plenty of learning opportunities for Thespians and educators alike. And while it’ll be tough to visit all of them, EdTA staff and your ITO are here to share takeaways from the workshops we do visit.

  • A rhyme a day keeps the mind awake: Kicking off the day was Devon Glover and his workshop “Hip-Hop Theatre: Finding your Voice Through Verse.” As attendees worked to write a verse to introduce themselves, Glover shared tips to improve their writing: just because it rhymes doesn’t mean it has to be a rap, speed can influence engagement for your audience, and emulating the skills and style of the people who influence you can be a great way to help find your voice.
Ashley Ware tape dance workshop at ITF
  • If you can hear it, you can see it: A mix of students and teachers took to the hardwood floors of the Musical Arts Center room 301 in Ashley Ware’s workshop, “I Can Do That: Musical Theatre Tap for Those Who Don’t Tap.” As participants worked through paradiddles, Irish, and Maxie Ford steps, the value of speed was a constant. Tap dancing may seem quick and complex, but it starts with slow and intentional movements. So no, you don’t need to be a pro to learn tap, Ware says you just need “a willing attitude and a big smile.”
  • Build it and they will come: In the afternoon, Harry Culpepper’s session “Theatre Accessibility: Incorporating American Sign Language,” delved into how students and theatre educators can integrate Americal Sign Language (ASL), in their curriculum and skillset. “So much of what we do in ASL is perfect for teaching theatre because of the physicality,” he said. In the workshop, participants explored the connection by creating an ABC story with ASL, where each signed letter represented a screen in a story ranging from getting ready in the morning to sailors battling pirates (all created in about 10 minutes!).

Broadway Creatives Share Insights

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Stars Talkback

In the afternoon, students had an opportunity to sit with the stars of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child for a panel discussion featuring Ebony Blake and John Skelley. The session offered a unique opportunity for students to get a glimpse into the world of professional theatre and the value of attending ITF.

“It’s incredibly important because we can be arbiters of change for society on the whole,” said Ebony Blake who stars as Hermoine in the production. “There’s so many beautiful spirits and bright, talented, wonderful young people here. It’s wonderful for them to have a place where they can come to realize you’re not by yourself and it’s OK to be who you are.”

From the Main Stage

Rounding out the day were performances My Heart Says Go by Warsaw Community High School and Alice by Heart by Fossil Ridge High School.

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