Six Thespians Awarded Grants to Attend International Thespian Festival

By EdTA News posted 22 days ago


Students who are members of the International Thespian Society (ITS) from Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Texas, and Germany received awards to attend this year’s  International Thespian Festival (ITF) thanks to grants established by former leaders of the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA), which has produced ITF since 1941. The 57th event on June 22 – 26, is being transformed into the first-ever Virtual International Thespian Festival. The virtual event will feature adjudications, auditions, the inaugural International Thespian Excellence Awards Showcase (aka the ThespysTM), performances, workshops, masterclasses, and more.

The Doug Finney Festival Grant is a need-based grant given annually to four students.

The 2020 recipients are:

  • Olivia Albertson, Prairie Heights High School, Thespian Troupe 7436, Orland, Indiana
  • Amber Berrey, Paola High School, Thespian Troupe 66, Paola, Kansas
  • Zoe Bowers, Urbana High School, Thespian Troupe 161, Urbana, Illinois
  • Andrew Spriggs, Jemicy School, Thespian Troupe 8269, Westminster, Maryland

Among other distinctions, Albertson, who has performed since middle school, played one of four leading roles in an original play written by a former Prairie Heights student. Berrey has been a tech crew leader for three years at Paola notably the soundboard operator for Celtic Tales, a main stage performance at ITF 2018. Bowers has choreographed numerous community shows for the Urbana Park District outh theatre program. Spriggs has won several awards including the Cappies of Baltimore award for Best Comedic Actor for his theatre performances.

The grant is named for the former director of ITF, who was honored with the EdTA Hall of Fame, Founders, and Presidents Awards during his tenure. He wanted every Thespian to have the opportunity to attend the festival. After his passing in 1992, the EdTA Board of Directors endowed a fund to support this goal.


(L to R: Albertson, Berrey, Bowers, Spriggs)

LongstrethGrantRecipWEISS2020PHOTO.jpgThe Ronald L. Longstreth International Thespian Festival Grant is a one-time grant for inducted ITS member students who are not United States citizens. It is named for the Cincinnati theatre teacher who was EdTA executive director from 1968 to 1999 who continues his support.

The 2020 recipient is Berenike Weiss, East Lincoln High School, Troupe 7214, Denver, North Carolina. The exchange student from Augustusburg, Germany, decided to participate in a 10-month study abroad program in the 2018-2019 school year to increase her knowledge of theatre, an art that is considered less important than the sciences in Augustusburg public schools. Weiss, who earned a lead role in East Lincoln’s spring production of Footloose, was an active participant in reinstating the program’s Thespian troupe.

ITFLeadershipGrantRecipLEMONS2020PHOTO.jpgThe Leadership Grant was created by Joe Burnsworth, a former EdTA Board president. It covers ITF registration for one student. To qualify, a student must demonstrate leadership through Thespian activities by being a troupe or state chapter officer and have previously participated in the leadership training program at ITF. 

The 2020 Leadership Grant recipient is Campbell Lemons, O.D. Tompkins High School, Troupe 7963, Katy, Texas. The State Thespian Officer participated in the Leadership Program at ITF in 2019. After Lemons met with Mayor Bill Hastings of Katy, TX about the importance of theatre in schools, the mayor agreed to name March of 2020 Theatre in Our Schools Month for the city of Katy. Lemons is looking forward to attending the first-ever Virtual ITF where she will continue to expand her knowledge of community outreach to better support her school theatre program.