Looking Back on #thesfest14

By Alex Minton posted 06-29-2014 19:58

Registration: $670
Money for the week: $80
Spending a week with over 3,100 thespians: priceless

The International Thespian Festival was held on June 23-28 and each day was everything but scripted. The week began on Monday when my troupe from Omaha, Nebraska arrived around 1:30, after quickly unpacking our belongings we anxiously planned out our week. My afternoon consisted of meeting with the ITO candidates, the ITO, and the STO while volunteering for door guarding and headcounts throughout the week. After a rushed meal, I joined my troupe in watching the first show in our weekly lineup: Antigone presented by thespian troupe 4501, New Albany High School from New Albany, Indiana. The audience was amazed to see high school students acrobatically and gracefully suspend themselves by ropes of fabric. Our evening concluded with An Evening with Shaiman and Wittman, where a cast of talented thespians and two Broadway performers joined the composers to perform a selection of songs from Hairspray, Smah, and Catch Me if You Can. What made that performance special was watching a girl from troupe perform in the chorus at the end (pictured below)!

Tuesday began the week of late nights and early mornings. The Student Leadership class began and the ITO Candidates were introduced and "knighted" to a room of 148 students. After the day of introductions I ran around and volunteered at different events, specifically Tech Challenge. Tech Challenge at ITF was nothing like I had ever seen before, competition was in the air and it was interesting to witness the support the teams had for each other. I was tasked with resetting one of the lighting stations, and what amazed me was that students completed the task in an average time of 2 minutes and 20 seconds (add 8 minutes, and that would have been my score). After my shift was over I ran into some Junior Thespians from Chicago, Illinois (pictured below) and they soon became the highlight and energy boost of every day. The main stage that evening was Mary Poppins, presented by thespian troupe 5134 from Green Valley High school in Henderson, Nevada. Each and every member of the cast was engaged in the story, especially the chimney sweep who walked up the walls of the Lied. What a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious night!

Wednesday's highlights included Leadership, the fast paced musical revue Smokey Joe's Cafe presented by thespian troupe 3860 from Jeffersonville High School in Jeffersonville, Indiana. In addition Wednesday was the first Meet the Candidates workshop, a new addition among new additions to #thesfest14 which gave students the chance to get to know their 2014-2015 ITO Candidates (a few selfies below). My favorite question came from the audience and it was: you wake up in the middle of the night, and are really thirsty, so you walk downstairs and open up the fridge, what do you grab to drink and how does that affect your leadership skills? The lesson of the workshop was that there is never a dull moment with thespians. Wednesday concluded with thespian troupe 4982 from Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin performing Catch Me if You Can. I was impressed with how the cast and crew could energize the 10pm audience, and make us think twice about not endorsing our checks.

Thursday highlights were the following: leadership, another Meet the Candidates workshop, and Of Mice and Men presented by thespian troupe 5273 from Las Vegas Academy of the Arts in Las Vegas, Nevada. From someone who had never read the book, or seen the movie I thought the cast and crew did a phenomenal job making the scenes relatable and full of emotion.

Friday was the best day of my life. On Friday I was elected to serve as Chair of The International Thespian Officers for the 2014-2015 year, and along with tearful congratulations from family and friends I got to stand on the Lied stage (twice!) with my board of lovely ladies (pictured below). What made that moment even more incredible was seeing my parents before and after our announcement. I am anxiously excited to begin my term and imagine, create, and believe for thespians around the world. The performance that evening was Fiddler on the Roof presented by thespian troupe 1539 from Edina High School in Edina, Minnesota. Edina's seamless and tactful set construction combined with the actors authentic performances earned them a traditional ITF standing ovation.

(From left to right: Alyssa Jewel, Region I Representative. Liz Coin, Region II Representative. Rachel Gatewood, Region II Representative. Tracie Kunzika, Region IV Representative. Danysha Lamadieu, Communications Editor. Myself, Chair.)

Saturday marked the last day of #thesfest14, but festivities still ensued! The highlight of Saturday was dining with the Educational Theatre Association's Executive Board, outgoing ITO, and the incoming ITO (pictured below). May I add, the Oreo cheesecake was delicious. After the delicious luncheon, the day was spent packing and saying goodbye to all the thespians I had met throughout the week. The final performance was In the Heights presented by Georgia All-State Thespians. The high-energy, elaborate set, and Latin score was the ideal way to send everyone home.

Overall #thesfest14 was extraordinary. A huge thank you to all of the EdTA staff, the International Thespian Officers, thespian alumni, troupe directors, chaperones, volunteers, and each and every one of you for playing your part in our unscripted week! Without your time, talent, and dedication, this festival would not have been as successful as it was.

I look forward to seeing you making your mark next year, at #thesfest15

Alex Minton
2014-2015 ITO Chair