The International Thespian Society annually recognizes up to three individuals who have gone above and beyond in their role as a volunteer. This award honors those adults who have selflessly given their time and ability to help a Thespian or Junior Thespian troupe with set construction, chaperoning, fundraising, advocacy, and more. This year’s Honorary Thespians are Richard Hay, senior scenic and theatre designer at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and volunteer advisor/sponsor of Ashland High School’s theatre department in Ashland, Oregon; and Tiffany Crain and Marie St. Yves, co-presidents of the Leavenworth High School theatre department’s parent booster club in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Richard Hay has been supporting the Ashland High School theatre department, home to Thespian Troupe 4630, for more than 20 years. He is directly responsible for the focus and design of the theatre space at Ashland High School, advising Troupe Director Betsy Bishop in advocating for and building the new space in 1996. Since then, Hay has not only donated over $16,000 to the theatre program, he continues to advise and support the theatre program artistically. As an accomplished professional set designer with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, he provides his expertise and encouragement, and in turn, inspires students to be life-long learners. “I consider Richard Hay to be Ashland Theatre’s true ‘theatre angel,’” says Bishop. “He never misses a show or an opportunity to support young artists. My students are amazed and inspired by him.”
Tiffany Crain and Marie St. Yves are an integral part of the Leavenworth High School theatre department, home to Thespian Troupe 287. Their focus is to make school theatre inclusive and accessible to/for students. This year they have built up a strong base of parent support, and organized several fund raisers including: concession stands for productions; production shirt sale; working at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival; selling show ‘shout-outs,’ break a legs gifts, and more. Last fall they raised over $5,000 for students to attend the Kansas Chapter Thespian festival, assisting with bus expenses, scholarships for students, and gift packs for each attendee. Under their direction, the theatre department booster club has also been able to provide cast and crew with tech week meals, and bus expenses for students to attend the Omaha Film Festival Academy.
Leavenworth Senior High School’s Thespian troupe 287, under the direction of Jennifer Morgan-Beuchat garnered other achievements this year. They also won recognition as a second place winner of an Outstanding Impact Award for Theatre in Our Schools Month. They were cited for serving on the planning committee for the first statewide Theatre Education Advocacy Day in Kansas which saw 200 students representing 13 schools visit the state capital in Topeka where the Governor issued a proclamation. In addition, Leavenworth High School won a R.I.S.E. America grant, awarding $10,000 to the school’s theatre program, resulting in city-wide media coverage on television and in print not just about the grant, but why the grant and theatre are essential to the school and community.