Watching the whole crowd scream #TexThesFest13 at the first all festival event in Texas was an awesome feeling. I do not think I have ever seen so many Thespians in one place before, and it was truly amazing to see all of the excitement in the room. This year, Texas' festival had 4,500 delegates in attendance; this was one of their biggest festivals yet. I was so lucky to be the ITO representative at this festival.
When I got to the hotel, I got to eat dinner with several of the SSBs. We then went and watched the silent auction and welcomed troupes as they came in for pre-registration. I really enjoyed this time because not only did I get to meet a lot of Thespians as they came in, but I also got a really good chance to talk to some of the SSBs before festival was in full force.
The next morning, we were up bright and early to get ready for Junior Thespian Preview Day! I got to join the SSBs in welcoming the Jr Thespians. We played a couple of games with them before the house opened for opening ceremony. I loved the energy that the Jr Thespians had. They were all so happy and had so much energy, even though many of them had woken up extremely early. After the doors opened, we went backstage and got ready for opening ceremony. While I waited to go onstage, I got the chance to talk to the cast and crew of the morning show, Little Shop of Horrors.
After opening, the SSBs and I headed to meet some of the SSB candidates. In Texas, they call them the "candies" for short. It was so nice to meet all of them. I truly loved hearing why Thespians was important to them. We also played the "embarrassing name game" where we had to say our name and then a silly word that started with the same letter. We came up with everything from "Kolton, Kangaroos" to "Peyton, Pizza."
Then, Thursday afternoon, we had opening ceremonies for the high school troupes. In Texas, their festival runs on two tracks. Delegates are assigned to either the "gold track" or the "blue track." This determines when you eat and when you see shows. Both of the opening ceremonies went really well.
On Thursday, I also got to teach my leadership workshop. I had a really good turn out; we ran out of chairs. I really enjoyed talking to everyone that was in the workshop and hearing their ideas and opinions on the different topics that we covered.
Friday morning, I got to go to Seize the Morning with the SSBs. We woke up early and went to dance and have a morning warm up with a bunch of other Thespians! There was a really good turnout both Friday and Saturday, which was really exciting.
My favorite part of Friday was the "ITS Q&A" workshop. I got to spend some time with Craig Branch and several EdTA board members talking to a couple of students about what the International Thespian Society is and answering their questions. It was really nice to get to know these students and have an in-depth conversation about Thespians. We also got the chance to talk about what they wanted to do in the future and how theatre has helped them. I have been texting one of the thespians that was in the workshop these past couple of days and from what I have heard, they were really inspired by what they saw and learned at #TexThesFest13. They are talking with their troupe and hoping to get everyone more involved.
On Saturday, I got to be a part of two workshops lead by SSBs. The first was the SSB's leadership workshop. Students in Texas pre-register for this workshop. They split the students up into groups based on their personality colors. From there, the SSBs talked a little bit about how to work with different colors. They then talked about each color more in-depth. We also played several team building games. At the end, each group was given a scenario where they had to solve a problem that had been brought up in their troupe. All of the groups did a really good job and I felt that it was an extremely well prepared and successful workshop.
I also got to be a part of the "Arts Advocacy in Action" workshop lead by one of the SSBs, Blane Barton, and his troupe director. They did a really good job of presenting what advocacy is and why it is important. They talked about how important an effective elevator speech can be. Then, the students got the chance to write their own elevator speeches. It was really neat to see everyone in the workshop doing a great job of balancing stories and facts to create effective speeches. I got the chance to help Blane introduce the Student Advocacy Works. Everyone in the workshop pledged to spread the word to at least 5 other delegates at the festival. This was another extremely well done workshop.
Finally, I think that the he SSBs did a really great job of pushing the hashtags for the festival. They started creating hashtags for things that related to their theme, Seize the Day, Seize the Stage, Live Your Dreams. As you walked around festival, people would say things like #seizetheselfie and take pictures with us. At night time, several people would also say things like #seizethesleep. The most popular hashtag by far though, was #TexThesFest13. So I know, whenever I miss Texas's festival, I can just go and scroll through all of the tweets and pictures to remember some of everyone's favorite memories.
Saying goodbye to Texas was hard. I was lucky enough to make some great friendships, and overall I really loved their festival. I loved getting to meet all of the Texas thespians and experience such a huge festival! I enjoyed talking to the vendors and some of the other workshop presenters. It was also a pleasure to meet the adult board. My favorite part though, was getting to know the Student State Board, and see all of the hard work that they had put into this festival pay off. I think that #TexThesFest13 was a success.