In 2019, the International Thespian Society (ITS) is marking the 90th anniversary of its founding with a yearlong celebration of the power of theatre education to instill confidence, empathy, and compassion to build better communities.
In the 2018-19 school year 59,000 new Thespians were inducted, and since its founding, ITS now counts more than 2.4 million theatre students who have been honored.
It was founded in Fairmont, W.Va., during the 1928-29 school year, chartering its first troupes in April 1929. Today, Thespian troupes are active in all 50 states and 13 countries. The newest troupe, at the Olentangy Berlin High School in in Delaware, Ohio, is number 8839. Troupe 1 is from Casper, Wyoming. Both were present at the organization’s signature event, the International Thespian Festival, last June, along with 4,000 fellow Thespians. In total, nearly 10,000 troupes have chartered since ITS’ founding.
“This membership milestone, coming as it does in the midst of the 90th anniversary year of ITS, is a testament to the clarity of vision of the ITS founders: to ‘better high school dramatics’ and recognize participation in dramatics ‘as is true with high school athletics,’” says EdTA Executive Director Julie Cohen Theobald. “The values instilled by participation in school theatre benefit those students every day for the rest of their lives.”
Today, the organization is fulfilling the founders’ aims through a variety of programs and services—including new initiatives launching this anniversary year. READ MORE ABOUT ONGOING SERVICES AND THE NEW INITIATIVES.