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The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) is a national nonprofit organization with approximately 135,000 student and professional members. EdTA’s mission is shaping lives through theatre education by: honoring student achievement in theatre and enriching their theatre education experience; supporting teachers by providing professional development, networking opportunities, resources, and recognition; and influencing public opinion that theatre education is essential and builds life skills. EdTA operates the International Thespian Society (ITS), an honorary organization that has inducted more than 2.4 million theatre students since its founding in 1929, and the Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF), the organization’s philanthropic arm that provides financial support to enhance theatre education and to expand access to school theatre programs for every child.
The International Thespian Society, a division of EdTA, is an honorary organization for high school and middle school theatre students. There are ITS troupes at more than 4,900 affiliated schools around the world. The Society’s mission is to honor student achievement in the theatre arts. Students earn induction by participating in an affiliated school’s theatre program and accumulating points based on the quality and quantity of their work in theatre. High school inductees are known as Thespians and junior high/middle school inductees are known as Junior Thespians.
Theatre Education Conference. The event for busy theatre education professionals, EdTA’s Theatre Education Conference features practical workshops designed to be integrated into the classroom. Many school districts accept EdTA conference workshops for continuing education credits. College credits are also available.
International Thespian Festival (ITF). The world’s largest educational and performance event for middle and high school theatre, Festival is a weeklong celebration of theatre for students and educators held each year at the end of June.
Chapter festivals and conferences. These local and regional celebrations of theatre are organized by and for theatre teachers and students from EdTA chapters established within US states, Candian provinces, and other geographic areas.
Any individual may create an account to access the Theatre Education Community. Logged-in EdTA members gain access to features that that include members-only Community resources and discussions, special member pricing for events, and other benefits. Logged-in troupe directors can induct students and purchase ITS honor items and troupe supplies online.
Thespians with email addresses have login access to online student benefits. The login ID is always the email address on the individual’s personal profile, which may differ from the email on his or her troupe profile.
The online trophy store and events websites have different, user-created accounts and login codes, which may differ from those used for schooltheatre.org.
Thespian Troupe FAQ
The school’s ITS troupe affiliation allows it to recognize the achievement of its theatre students through induction into ITS. It also provides its troupe director access to EdTA professional resources. For more information, see the Thespian Troupe Membership page.
- EdTA professional membership for the designated troupe director
- The ability to induct top theatre students into the honor society (ITS)
- A subscription to Teaching Theatre, our biweekly journal for theatre educators that highlights the most current and useful tools for teaching from the EdTA Learning Center
- Member-level access to online Theatre Education Community discussions and resources
- EdTA affiliate professional membership opportunity for adults affiliated with the troupe (save $30)
- A charter certificate and membership roll
- Access to Thespian graduation and honor items that may only be purchased by troupe directors
- Member rates for EdTA educational programs and events at the state, local, and international level
- Member pricing for theatre and classroom resources through our online EdTA Store
- Assistance in obtaining reduced royalties on plays from publishers
- The ability to nominate and be considered for EdTA awards and grants
- Troupe director ability to nominate, vote, and run for elected office in the Association
- Scholarship and grant eligibility for Thespian inductees
- Advocacy support and representation at the national, chapter, and local levels
Thespians and Junior Thespians receive the highest recognition due those who have demonstrated commitment and excellence in their school’s theatre program—induction into the world’s largest theatre honor society. In addition to the many tangible benefits listed below, inductees enjoy the sense of community and recognition inherent in being inducted into an honor society. ITS membership and its system of progressive honors and recognition encourages them to practice their craft and to grow as a person. The 21st-century skills that they learn from a quality theatre arts education—creativity, self-confidence, leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills, as well as specific theatre skills—will benefit them throughout school and beyond, no matter what field they choose to pursue.
In general, schools that serve students in any combination of grades six through twelve, have a theatre program, and provide full academic coursework in a traditional school setting may start an ITS troupe. In addition, ITS makes provisions for some programs to join as non-traditional troupes. Details on charter eligibility are found in the EdTA Membership Policy. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about charter eligibility. To start a troupe, a school must submit an online application, a one-time charter fee, and its first-year troupe dues, as well as induct a minimum of six new student members into ITS by the end of its first year.
Visit the Thespian Troupe Membership page for more information.
Each troupe must submit its annual troupe renewal dues between August 1 and October 15 of each school year to remain active. Troupes must also maintain a minimum base of six active student members and pay all bills in a timely manner.
Troupes are required to maintain an active student membership base of at least six Thespians or Junior Thespians, calculated at the end of each school year (by July 31). Troupes are not required to induct six students each year as long as they meet this requirement. Troupe directors should keep this in mind as students graduate or transfer from their troupes. In addition, schools must have a minimum of six active student members when they charter or reinstate the troupe to active status.
The troupe membership term is from August 1 through the following July 31, the ITS academic year. Troupes chartered or reinstated August 1 through June 30 become active through the end of the current school year (July 31). Fees are not prorated for partial years. Troupes chartering late in the school year are still required to pay renewal dues for the following school year by October 15. Troupes chartered or reinstated in the month of July will be active through July 31 of the following school year.
If a troupe doesn’t submit its annual dues by October 15, its benefits will be suspended and its membership status changes to “inactive.” If its dues remain unpaid after November 15, the troupe’s membership status will change to “withdrawn.” To return to active status, the withdrawn troupe must pay its annual troupe dues plus a reinstatement fee and have a minimum of six active student members. Students already on the active troupe roster count toward this requirement.
No. A troupe director may be any adult appointed by the school’s administration (i.e., another teacher, a parent, or an alum).
Troupe directors may share the responsibilities of troupe management if they choose; however, for Association purposes, only one person may be the official troupe director. This person receives the full EdTA professional membership. We encourage troupe assistant- or co-directors to become affiliate members, so they can enjoy EdTA benefits as well.
Each troupe operates under its own constitution (a template is available by download from the Thespian troupe director resource page). This document outlines rules for membership, activities, and governing policies for the troupe. At the end of the troupe constitution, there is a section for bylaws and organizational information unique to the troupe, which can be changed more frequently. The school administration and all members and potential members of the troupe must have access to a copy so that everyone is aware of the expectations of membership in the troupe.
Honor Thespians are student Thespians who have attained that rank by earning a minimum of 60 points and fulfilled other local troupe requirements. Additional ranks are earned at 120 and 180 points. Honorary Thespians are adults who perform outstanding service for an ITS troupe. Troupe directors can submit Honorary Thespians online through their troupe dashboard page. Honorary Thespians become members of ITS and receive a personalized membership card, certificate, and membership pin.
ITS Student Membership FAQ
Students qualify by earning points for their work in the theatre arts. ITS provides a point system guide for reference. The points listed are the suggested maximum for excellent work. These points should be earned in a minimum of two productions and in two different production areas (e.g., acting and stage management).
Thespians (grades 9 through 12) – One Thespian point represents ten hours of excellent work. To be eligible for Thespian induction, a student must obtain a minimum of ten points, the equivalent of one hundred hours.
Junior Thespians (grades 6 through 8) – One Junior Thespian point represents five hours of excellent work. To be eligible for Junior Thespian induction, a student must obtain a minimum of ten points, the equivalent of fifty hours.
All Thespians and Junior Thespians receive:
- A personalized membership card and certificate
- A bumper sticker that reads: Proud parent of a theatre arts honor student
- Eligibility to:
- participate in the Thespys® at the chapter events and the International Thespian Festival (per chapter policy)
- receive ITS graduation and honor items (per troupe policy)
All Thespians also receive:
- A Thespian induction pin
- Login access to their own member dashboard page and a variety of online benefits
- Access to our online magazine, Dramatics.org, full of content curated especially for Thespians
- Member-only pricing on Thespian apparel, theatre books, and resources at the online EdTA Store
- Student member access to the online Theatre Education Community
- Eligibility to:
- apply for scholarships and grants
- run for office as a State Thespian Officer (STO) (per chapter policy)
- run for office as an International Thespian Officer (ITO)
- submit their original compositions to the Thespy Playwriting program
All Junior Thespians also receive:
- A Junior Thespian induction pin
- Ability to begin their high school careers with half of the Thespian points required for high school induction
Troupe directors may submit new inductions at any time during the school year.
No. Payment of the one-time induction fee entitles the student to a lifetime membership, the active benefits of which last through high school or middle school graduation. Troupes may assess additional participation fees at their discretion.
The ITS point systems are meant to be used as guides. Different programs have different needs, and each director may need to tailor the qualifications to fit a school’s unique program and environment. If a troupe is using anything other than what is published by EdTA, these changes should be documented in the troupe’s constitution and made available to students and administrators. Other induction requirements that may not be altered are listed in the EdTA membership policy.
No. Once students’ paid inductions have been processed by EdTA, they are Thespians or Junior Thespians for life. However, each troupe may have its own requirements for being a member in good standing of their local troupe. These should be defined in the troupe’s constitution. If a director determines that a student is not eligible to participate in troupe activities, they may prohibit that student from participating (ideally the sanction is within the guidelines of the troupe’s constitution). Resolution of any dispute over a student’s ability to participate in a troupe activity rests with the school’s administration.
No. If the school that the student attends has an active ITS troupe, they may only be a member of that troupe. Students may participate in and earn points for work done with other ITS troupes and in other theatrical activities, if the troupe constitution and bylaws permit. If the school does not have an active troupe, students may be eligible for induction into an active troupe at another school. Full troupe affiliation guidelines are available in the troupe handbook.
Troupes are expected to accept transferring student members with credit for a minimum of ten points. If a student member transfers to a school that has an active ITS troupe, the director of the new school must submit a student membership transfer form to EdTA. Transferring members are not submitted along with new inductees, and they do not pay any additional membership fees. Transferring members may be required to fulfill certain additional expectations to receive local troupe benefits at their new school. The troupe director may order new ITS credentials for the transferring member. Student members transferring to schools without active troupes remain members of their original troupes. That troupe’s director and constitution determine if the student will continue to receive local benefits. Members transferring to unaffiliated schools are encouraged to pursue chartering a troupe at their new school, after which they would transfer to that newly formed troupe.
Whether or not points beyond the ten needed for induction will be recognized at the new troupe is determined by the new troupe director and that troupe’s constitution. Similarly, all, some, or none of the points of students who haven’t been inducted may be accepted by the new troupe, depending on the troupe’s constitution and bylaws.
No. Junior Thespians moving to high schools must be inducted into the high school troupe. They begin their high school careers with at least half of the points needed for high school induction, usually five out of ten. When they become eligible for induction, they are submitted along with all other Thespian inductees.
Some state chapters require proof of induction to participate in auditions and other activities at their conferences. Some member schools extend special deals and privileges (discounted tickets, free preview performances, etc.) to cardholding ITS members as part of a good neighbor policy. Some local theatres and businesses may extend similar deals to cardholders based on previously arranged agreements. Troupe directors should make themselves aware of any such opportunities and inform their students. Troupes are encouraged to gather with others in their area to explore opportunities and arrange deals.
ITS offers a wide variety of items for recognizing member achievement. Induction and scholar pins, graduation honor cords and tassels, medallions, and other honor items may only be purchased by troupe directors and may only be presented to officially inducted students. Some items are specific to Thespians and others to Junior Thespians. ITS trophies and plaques may be presented to student members and non-members (parent volunteers, for example) at the troupe director’s discretion. Troupe directors should work closely with their school administrations to determine which items are appropriate. All items are ordered through the online EdTA Store.
While ITS does not have a minimum GPA requirement for induction, officially inducted Thespians and Junior Thespians who demonstrate high academic success in addition to their achievements in theatre arts may earn the distinction of scholar. The scholar distinction always follows the student’s ITS rank to create his or her full designation: Junior Thespian Scholar, Thespian Scholar, Honor Thespian Scholar, Junior Thespian President’s List Scholar, National Honor Thespian Vice President’s List Scholar, etc.
High school students earn Thespian honor ranks for reaching Thespian point awards over and above the ten points required for induction (60, 120, and 180). Thespian points are awarded based on the quality and quantity of each student’s work in theatre arts. Scholar distinction is granted to a Thespian or Junior Thespian for academic achievement in overall coursework. Thespian honor ranks are only available to high school Thespians. Junior Thespians use a system of star ratings instead of honor ranks to record ongoing point achievements.
EdTA Professional Membership FAQ
EdTA professional members are theatre educators, teaching artists, administrators, and other individuals who have an interest in keeping theatre a vital part of the educational curriculum.
By joining EdTA, you become a member of the largest professional organization for the field of theatre education. You become part of a community devoted to developing the strongest and most educated professionals and advancing the importance of theatre’s role in the educational curriculum. Membership in EdTA provides the professional development and advocacy resources to aid you in your efforts.
- Access to EdTA’s Learning Center, which features a wealth of materials for theatre educators: curricula, model assessments, lesson plans, activities, webinars, and more.
- Special member rates for purchasing theatre and classroom resources sold through the EdTA Store
- Special member rates for EdTA educational programs and events
- Member-level access to discussions and resources through our online Theatre Education Community
- Advocacy support and representation at the national, state, and local levels
- Award and grant eligibility
- The ability to nominate, vote, and run for office in EdTA
The Educational Theatre Association offers memberships for educators at every stage of their career—from the theatre education major to the most experienced retired arts educator.
Professional membership. The standard membership for individual adults, including theatre educators, arts administrators, teaching artists, performers, theatre technicians, college professors, educational outreach coordinators, youth theatre directors, and arts advocates.
Troupe director membership. ITS troupe directors also receive a full professional membership in EdTA.
Pre-professional membership. This membership features student-friendly rates for full-time college students who are interested in making theatre education an important part of their professional lives.
Affiliate membership. Any adult affiliated with an ITS member school is eligible for this discounted membership, including troupe co-directors, volunteers, faculty, and administrators.
Emeritus membership. Emeritus members are individuals who have retired from teaching theatre full-time but want to maintain an active relationship with their professional association.
Any adult interested in membership can join online via the Professional Membership page.