The Educational Theatre Association’s (EdTA) Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes individuals who support the Association through exceptional volunteer efforts. The 2019 recipients are the volunteer ushers at the Lied Center for Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for their work during the International Thespian Festival over the past 25 years.
During the last week of June, two times a day, the dedicated volunteers guide a full house of 2,200 high school theatre students from across the country and around the world to their seats as they prepare to watch performances from a half dozen Thespian troupes whose work has earned the highly coveted privilege of performing on the main stage of the International Thespian Festival (ITF).
ITF is the premier high school theatre festival in the nation, attracting 4,500 students and their teachers for a weeklong immersion in performance, learning, and opportunities to audition for scholarships and college admissions. Among the highest honors in school theatre is for a Thespian Troupe to be invited to perform on the main stage at the Lied at ITF.
In presenting the awards, EdTA Executive Director Julie Theobald said, “The International Thespian Festival is EdTA’s signature event, and the mainstage performances are a highlight. For 25 years we’ve counted on this marvelous group of dedicated individuals to ensure that when the curtain was ready to go up on the show, the house would be ready, too.”
“The area residents who volunteer as ushers are integral to the community connection that is part of the Lied’s mission, said Bill Stephan, Lied Center Executive Director. “Their work for the International Thespian Festival is above-and-beyond what they give to the community all year and we are delighted to join in this salute to their service.”
Over the past 10 years alone, 443 individuals have volunteered to usher sold-out houses of high school students. Of those individuals, 26 have worked for nine of the past 10 years, and 27 have been volunteered all 10 years.
Accepting the award on behalf of all the ushers were Kathy Anstine, Jeff Falter, June Kucera, Rod and Jeris Oliverius, David Teche, Terry Thompson, and Marcy Tintera. The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented during the International Thespian Festival on the campus of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where the event has been held for 25 years.