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Junior Thespian Troupe Handbook

Download the entire Junior Thespian Troupe Handbook.

Table of Contents

Introduction and general information

What is the International Thespian Society?
What is the Educational Theatre Association?
What is EdTA’s mission and how is it fulfilled?
Hierarchy of troupe governance documents
EdTA chapters
EdTA regions

The ITS/school relationship

The difference between the school’s Junior Thespian troupe and the theatre program
Chartering a troupe
The term of troupe membership
Troupe membership status

The role of the troupe director

Annual troupe director tasks
Ongoing troupe director activities
Minimum active student member requirement
Changing troupe directors
Website log-in IDs and passwords

Troupe organization

Troupe funds
Troupe constitution and bylaws
Troupe officers
Troupe meetings

Troupe membership

Who is a member of the Junior Thespian troupe?
Determining Junior Thespian induction eligibility
Inducting new Junior Thespian members
Junior Thespian credentials
Recognizing exceptional Junior Thespian achievement
Inducting Honorary Thespians
Transferring Junior Thespians to a new school and troupe
Troupe record requests
Addressing Junior Thespian or parent concerns about the troupe
Additional student opportunities

Services and benefits for Junior Thespian troupes and directors

Additional troupe benefits and services
EdTA and ITS logos

Appendix 1: Ideas and advice for troupe directors

Making the most of available help
Educational activities
Touring and outreach programs
Promoting your program
Performance and fundraising ideas
Community service
Social activities

Appendix 2: Paying by purchase order and collection procedures
Appendix 3: ITS troupe documents

Introduction and general information

What is the International Thespian Society?

The International Thespian Society (ITS), an honorary group for middle and high school theatre students, is a division of the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA). The mission of ITS is to honor student excellence in the theatre arts. Thespian and Junior Thespian troupes are the honors components of a school’s theatre program. ITS membership offers many valuable benefits, services, and opportunities to troupe directors, Thespians, and Junior Thespians alike.

Thespian and Junior Thespian induction is a great motivator for students to become more active in their school’s theatre program. Whether or not these students pursue careers in the performing arts, the skills that they learn through theatre and Thespian/Junior Thespian activities are invaluable and ensure that future generations will appreciate and support the arts in our communities. We thank our troupe directors for caring enough to provide their students with this meaningful opportunity.

What is the Educational Theatre Association?

The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) is a professional organization supporting the field of theatre education. Members include theatre arts educators, students, professionals, and enthusiasts.

EdTA is also the parent organization of ITS—we endeavor to create an educational and stimulating theatre experience for students by providing the resources, training, and advocacy support for well-trained theatre education professionals. In short, we are not only serving theatre students, but we are also serving and developing theatre educators.

What is EdTA’s mission and how is it fulfilled?

The mission of EdTA is to create an artistic, educational, and professional network for theatre arts educators, students, professionals, and enthusiasts to share ideas and support the effort to have theatre arts (including film, television, and other related electronic media) recognized in all phases of education and lifelong learning.

In order to fulfill this mission, we:

  • Cultivate support to sustain and grow EdTA
  • Honor the work and recognize the achievements of our members and others
  • Produce educational events, programming, and publications to expand the knowledge and skills base for our members and the field of theatre education
  • Promote the work of our membership to the public and other organizations
  • Serve our members by being the leading advocate for theatre arts education
  • Support our volunteer leader network
  • Promote high professional standards

Hierarchy of troupe governance documents

This handbook is one part of a hierarchy of documents that govern troupe operation. It’s important to make sure everyone involved with your troupe is familiar with and has access to all governance information. These documents will help the troupe operate smoothly and prevent confusion or conflict. It is essential that troupes consult and adhere to all documents in the following order of importance:

Code of regulations. The code of regulations is EdTA’s primary governing document that creates the framework that defines the Association and shapes the policies of the organization and its membership.

Membership policy.The membership policy consists of EdTA’s rules and regulations. It defines the types of Association memberships, membership eligibility, and the process for becoming a member.

Troupe handbooks. The Thespian Troupe Handbook and Junior Thespian Troupe Handbook explain how troupes are expected to operate.

Troupe constitution.The troupe constitution is the basic document that details how an individual troupe will operate. See “Troupe constitution and bylaws” below for details.

Troupe bylaws.At the end of the troupe constitution is a section for bylaws. These are easier to add, delete, or change than articles of the troupe constitution, which makes them more flexible for day-to-day troupe operations. See “Troupe constitution and bylaws” below for details.

EdTA chapters

Chapters are officially recognized entities that represent troupes within a geographical area. Typically, American states or Canadian provinces organize chapters. Sometimes larger geographical areas are organized into chapters, such as the Western Pacific Islands. Each active chapter has a director and board who oversee area activities. Most chapters conduct annual festival/conferences and offer scholarships, performance opportunities, and educational workshops. Some chapters also conduct competitive events. EdTA’s online leader directory lists all active chapters and their directors. Convenient e-mail links make it easy to get in touch with current chapter directors.

EdTA regions

A region is a grouping of chapters. EdTA is organized into four regions. Typically, regions are only used to designate larger geographical areas for regional membership meetings: specific grants, scholarships, or awards, and for determining representation by the International Thespian Officers (ITO, the elected student representatives for ITS). To find out more about which region a chapter is in, see the ITS regions map

The ITS/school relationship

The difference between the school’s Junior Thespian troupe and the theatre program

The Junior Thespian troupe and the school theatre department or program are not one and the same. The Junior Thespian troupe is a subset of the theatre arts program. It is the student honor society, and membership is earned. Any student may be a member of the theatre program, but only students who have been officially inducted and registered with the EdTA home office are members of the theatre program and the International Thespian Society.

Chartering a troupe

Chartering a Junior Thespian troupe establishes a school’s membership in the International Thespian Society. The school administration appoints the troupe director as its official liaison with ITS and EdTA, but the school is legally and financially responsible for all troupe activity. By chartering a troupe and renewing the troupe’s membership annually, the troupe director and administration agree to the terms set forth in the EdTA code of regulations and membership policy.

The term of troupe membership

The troupe membership term is August 1 through the following July 31, which corresponds with the school year in most communities. Troupes chartered or reinstated August 1 through June 30 become active through the end of the current school year (July 31). Fees are not prorated for partial years. Troupes chartering late in the school year are still required to pay renewal dues for the following school year by October 15. Troupes chartered or reinstated in the month of July receive that month as a “bonus” and will be active through July 31 of the following school year.

Troupe membership status

The troupe’s membership status reflects the school’s relationship with the International Thespian Society. Troupe status does not affect individual Junior Thespian benefits that come directly from the home office (Junior Thespian certificates and membership cards), but may affect benefits that require a troupe director’s authorization, including induction and the purchase of honor items.

Sometimes schools are unable to maintain active status. In such cases we suggest the former troupe director join EdTA individually as a professional member to continue receiving Dramatics, Teaching Theatre, member prices for registrations and resource materials, and other benefits.

Active status.Active troupes have met all membership requirements and enjoy full benefits as members-in-good-standing.

Inactive status. Inactive troupes have not met one or more membership requirements and their membership benefits are suspended temporarily until these requirements are met. These troupes are informed of this status and the term of the grace period, the date by which the requirements must be met. Inactive troupes that meet the requirements before the end of the grace period will be returned to active status without an additional reinstatement fee. Troupes returned to active status after suspension for collection problems will be placed on credit hold for an additional 6 months.

Withdrawn status. Inactive troupes that do not meet membership requirements by the end of the grace period will be withdrawn from active status. Withdrawn troupes have their benefits removed indefinitely and must pay an additional reinstatement fee to be returned to active status. Troupes that remain withdrawn past the end of the current school year must also submit a reinstatement form complete with troupe director and administrator’s signatures.

The role of the troupe director

The troupe director is the official representative of the school’s Junior Thespian troupe to our organization. The troupe director is responsible for overseeing all troupe activities and operations, subject to the authority of the school’s administration and EdTA’s code of regulations and policies.

This troupe director is a professional member of EdTA as long as the troupe maintains active membership status. Member benefits and opportunities available to troupe directors are in the “Services and benefits for Junior Thespian troupes and directors” section below. Although the troupe may have more than one person who helps fulfill the troupe director’s duties (sometimes called a “troupe co-director” or “troupe assistant-director”), only one person may be designated as troupe director. Only the troupe director has official ITS troupe leadership authority. This gives him or her the ability to do such things as sign forms and applications, award ITS points, induct students into ITS, order and award Junior Thespian honor items, access troupe account information, etc. We encourage other adults assisting in troupe operations to join the Educational Theatre Association as affiliate professional members, so that they will receive professional benefits for themselves.

The success of a Junior Thespian troupe rests largely on the leadership and enthusiasm of the troupe director. Troupe directors know the value of the skills that are developed through theatre education and are committed to creating excellence within their own program. While directing a Junior Thespian troupe does require some extra time, there are over two million students who can attest to the value of the opportunities provided them as Thespians and Junior Thespians.

Annual troupe director tasks

Keep the troupe’s membership active and in good standing. Troupes must pay their annual dues by October 15 of each school year to remain active. Active troupes may induct new members at any time. Troupes must also pay outstanding balances promptly and adhere to EdTA/ITS guidelines to remain active and in good standing. If a troupe’s membership lapses, reinstatement is as simple as submitting a reinstatement form and the appropriate fees.

Verify/update troupe contact information with the EdTA/ITS home office. Annual troupe information update requests are sent to all active troupes at the beginning of each school year. These requests verify the troupe director’s contact information and note any changes. They also provide us with statistical information to help us better know and serve our members. It is particularly important to notify the home office when a new troupe director is appointed or any time their contact information changes.

Review the troupe’s constitution. Every troupe should adopt a constitution that includes specific troupe operations and activities that are not discussed in other documents. The constitution clarifies basic operation guidelines such as troupe officer requirements or job descriptions, local requirements for induction or participation in troupe activities, and any changes to the recommended ITS point system. The constitution must be available to students, parents, administration, or any other interested party. A copy of any adopted changes adopted may be sent to the EdTA home office for the troupe’s permanent file.

Verify school/troupe affiliation for new and renewing affiliate professional members. To be eligible for EdTA affiliate professional membership at reduced rates, adults must be affiliated with an ITS member school. Troupe directors must verify affiliation for all applicants. In addition, the renewal notices for affiliate professional members are sent to the troupe director’s attention at the school address. Troupe directors should forward such notices to their affiliate members to ensure prompt renewal. If individuals are no longer affiliated, we encourage troupe directors to notify the home office.

Ongoing troupe director activities

Junior Thespian inductions. Troupe directors recognize student achievement by assessing student work and inducting eligible students into the International Thespian Society. New inductees become members of the school’s Junior Thespian troupe for life.

The official Junior Thespian point system is the standard for awarding and tracking student eligibility points. The troupe director may modify the point system as appropriate for their program. It is expected that all students involved in theatre will be provided with a copy of the point system.

Traditionally, Junior Thespian troupes present ITS induction pins to each new Junior Thespian during their induction ceremony. These and all other Junior Thespian honor items may only be purchased by troupe directors of active troupes for presentation to inducted Junior Thespians.

Note: Each August a letter is sent to school administrators, congratulating them on the prior year’s inductions and thanking them for supporting the theatre arts. A list of the inductees is included. This recognition serves as a reminder that the school has an active theatre honor society. Troupe directors receive a copy of this letter.

Minimum number of active Junior Thespians. Effective August 1, 2008, each Junior Thespian troupe must maintain an active member base of at least six officially inducted Junior Thespians at all times. This provides a core group of students to conduct the activities of the troupe and fill officer positions (EdTA Membership Policy, Section 1.2.2 (a) (iv)). Active members are those inductees still attending the school for their primary education in core subjects such as math, language arts, social studies, and science.

Troupes not having the minimum number of active inductees as of July 31 will receive a reminder from the home office. The troupe will have until the following July 31 to reestablish a minimum core of six active Junior Thespians. If the troupe does not do so, the school’s troupe membership will become inactive. Troupe benefits will be suspended until the appropriate number of new Junior Thespians is inducted. If there are fewer than six active Junior Thespians in the troupe the following July 31, the troupe’s membership will be withdrawn.

Junior Thespian rating advancement. Following induction (10 Junior Thespian points earned), troupe directors encourage and reward dedication and achievement by continuing to award Junior Thespian points and advancing students through Junior Thespian ratings, which include 1- through 5-star Junior Thespian. See “Recognizing exceptional Junior Thespian achievement” below for details.

Awarding Junior Thespian scholar distinctions.Troupe directors recognize their Junior Thespians’ success in overall academic coursework by awarding Junior Thespian scholar distinctions. See “Recognizing exceptional Junior Thespian achievement” below for details.

Troupe officer elections. Each year troupes conduct officer elections. This establishes a team of student leaders who will support the troupe director and troupe activities throughout the year. More details are available in the “Troupe organization” section below.

Information sharing. The troupe director is the primary conduit of information between the school, the home office, and the students. Correspondence from EdTA will be sent to the troupe director’s attention. It is the troupe director’s responsibility to forward all invoices and statements for processing as required by the school’s payment policies and procedures. The troupe director authorizes transactions, orders, inductions, and membership queries on behalf of the troupe. EdTA cannot release sensitive troupe information to students. Whenever possible, troupe directors, not students, should contact the home office.

Changing troupe directors

New troupe directors. Transitions between troupe directors are particularly important times for Junior Thespian troupes. It is crucial that EdTA/ITS be informed of troupe director changes as quickly as possible to ensure that professional membership is transferred to the new troupe director and that accurate contact information is available. To make the change official, submit a Change of Troupe Director/Troupe Information Update form to the EdTA home office.

Sometimes the importance of ITS affiliation is not communicated to new theatre teachers, and the troupe falls by the wayside, leaving Junior Thespians without an active troupe and honor society. This transition is so important that EdTA has created a specific webpage for new troupe directors. In addition to general information and forms, new teachers may want to download our Tips for New Thespian Troupe Directors.

Outgoing troupe directors.If staff changes, such as retirement, are known in advance, the outgoing troupe director can help to facilitate a smooth transition by:

  1. Communicating to the new troupe director the value of Junior Thespian affiliation, including:
    1. the honorary nature of induction
    2. professional member and Junior Thespian benefits and services
    3. chapter and international event and program opportunities, etc.
  2. Providing the new troupe director a packet of up-to-date EdTA/ITS information, including:
    1. a change of troupe director form
    2. a troupe handbook and FAQs
    3. copies of all ITS forms
  3. Passing on to the new troupe director all troupe-specific materials, including:
    1. the current troupe constitution, complete with any membership eligibility amendments
    2. Junior Thespian membership rolls and induction history
    3. all current and past student point record and rating information
    4. troupe leadership information
    5. copies of all correspondence to and from the home office

Website log-in IDs and passwords

Each troupe director and affiliate professional member receives a log-in ID and password from the home office. These personal codes provide access to online EdTA member benefits such as the member directory and special member pricing for educational resources. In addition, troupe directors may log in to purchase troupe-only items such as Junior Thespian honor items and troupe supplies. EdTA members may change their passwords through their personal homepages. We strongly advise troupe directors not to share codes with others. The troupe is responsible for any online activity involving its log-in ID and password. At present, there are no access codes for Junior Thespian members.

Troupe organization

A Junior Thespian troupe is an honor society that recognizes and rewards excellence among the participants in the theatre arts program. Induction into the International Thespian Society is an honorable achievement, which the troupe director should promote to their students. The troupe is not a club, fraternity/sorority, or secret society within the school. Meetings, induction ceremonies, and other activities should be open to interested students, parents, and administrators as a way of reinforcing the honorary nature of the troupe.

Activities of the Junior Thespian troupe and the school’s theatre program are most beneficial when they are coordinated to complement and reinforce each other. Additionally, many schools find that cooperation with other departments results in a more rewarding program. Many schools use the art department for set painting, business classes for assistance in publicity and marketing, and home economics classes for help with costume design and construction. This cooperation helps promote the theatre arts within the school community as well as introduce new students to the pride in putting on a full-scale production.

Troupe funds

Control of the troupe’s funds is vested exclusively with the troupe director and the school officials. The EdTA/ITS home office recognizes only the troupe director as the representative of the school’s troupe with regard to filing official records or payment of fees with the home office.

We recommend that new troupe directors familiarize themselves with their school’s payment procedures by meeting with a business manager or accountant at the beginning of the school year. School purchasing procedures vary greatly. Knowing the school’s purchasing procedures and payment schedule in advance and coordinating them with EdTA’s procedures, deadlines, and turnaround times will make it easier to pay annual troupe dues and other bills on time and to induct students and receive merchandise in time for ceremonies and awards banquets.

All payments to EdTA must be made in U.S. funds. We highly recommend that troupes outside the United States pay using Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, or American Express credit cards. These cards automatically convert payment to U.S. funds and lock in the conversion rate.

Troupe constitution and bylaws

Each Junior Thespian troupe is expected to adopt a constitution. A troupe’s constitution should include basic information about how your troupe operates. Items such as requirements for troupe officers, any additional local requirements for student induction or participation, and any changes to the recommended ITS point system that should be spelled out in the constitution. A troupe constitution template is available on the EdTA website and includes the process for approving changes. If the troupe has not adopted a modified version, the ITS troupe constitution template is the governing document.

At the end of the troupe constitution template is a section for troupe bylaws. These cover the day-to-day details of troupe operation, which vary greatly from troupe to troupe and may need to be updated more frequently than articles of the troupe constitution. Bylaws often include such things as rules of order for troupe meetings, elections, and induction ceremonies. Good, up-to-date bylaws help the troupe document and communicate these important details to everyone involved and provide continuity from year to year as officers and troupe directors change.

The troupe constitution and bylaws must be made available to all theatre students, their parents, and the school administration. Troupes may send a copy of their final troupe constitution to the EdTA home office for its permanent records.

Troupe officers

All Junior Thespian troupe officers must be officially inducted members of the International Thespian Society and their troupe. Serving as a troupe officer gives inductees additional opportunities for leadership skill development and personal growth. Troupe officers can assist the busy troupe director in numerous ways with troupe and theatre program activities.

We recommend that student officers be appointed or elected immediately after a troupe has been chartered. Regular elections near the close of the school year (for the following year) will ensure that officers are ready to serve when students return in the fall.

Officer positions include president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and clerk/scribe. Other offices such as historian, publicity chair, Trick or Treat so Kids Can Eat (TOTS-EAT) food-drive chair, and webmaster may be added to the troupe’s constitution at the troupe’s discretion. They’re a great way to increase student involvement and recognition.

Non-member students may serve as officers on a temporary basis as long as the student is inducted into ITS by the end of that school year. Most often this is done to accommodate officers in a new theatre program or school that has not yet determined induction eligibility for its students.

Troupe meetings

The troupe director and new officers should schedule at least one meeting at the beginning of the school year. This should focus on the contributions that the troupe plans to make to the theatre arts program and the school. Plans should include troupe-only activities and those in which all theatre students may participate. Suggestions for the year’s calendar of activities, including community service projects such as TOTS-EAT, may be considered at this first meeting as well. We recommend that Junior Thespian troupes meet monthly throughout the school year. Inductions may be incorporated into troupe meetings.

Troupe membership

Who is a member of the Junior Thespian troupe?

Troupe directors. The troupe director, while not an official member of the troupe, is the administrator of the troupe on behalf of the school. He or she is a professional member of the Educational Theatre Association, and that membership is tied directly to the active member status of the troupe. If a troupe does not remain in good standing for any reason, the troupe director’s professional membership benefits will be suspended or withdrawn.

Affiliate professional members. Affiliate professional members are not active members of the troupe, although they could be Junior Thespian alumni if they were inducted into the troupe as students. While not active members of the troupe, they must be affiliated with the troupe to maintain their affiliate member status.

Junior Thespians. Only students who 1. have completed all eligibility requirements and 2. have had their names and one-time induction fees submitted to the EdTA/ITS home office by the troupe director are members of the Junior Thespian troupe and the International Thespian Society. It is not possible to induct or maintain Junior Thespian membership locally without registering through the home office. Participation in an induction ceremony alone does not constitute induction. The induction ceremony is the local celebration of the induction into ITS.

A student member must maintain satisfactory standards of membership as set forth by the EdTA governing board and the troupe constitution. The troupe director may deny a student participation in troupe activities for just cause. However, the term of the student’s paid ITS membership will not be affected. Once a student has been submitted to the home office for induction, their name cannot be removed from the Thespian Society membership rolls.

Junior Thespian alumni. Junior Thespian inductees receive a lifetime membership, the active benefits of which last through grade 8. Junior Thespians who have graduated from middle/junior high school become Junior Thespian alumni. They are members of the troupe and ITS, but they don’t receive many of the benefits of active members still enrolled in the theatre program, such as the ability to vote or run for troupe office. Many Junior Thespian alumni are inducted into their high school Thespian troupes as well.

Honorary Thespians. Honorary Thespian membership is granted to adults who perform outstanding service for a Thespian or Junior Thespian troupe. They are typically parents or other volunteers from the community, school employees, or generous patrons. Honorary Thespians are affiliated with the troupe and ITS, though they are not active voting members.

Junior Thespian apprentices. The prospect of induction should be used as an incentive for involvement in theatre as soon as a student enters secondary school. Students who are still earning their induction points are sometimes referred to as “Junior Thespian apprentices.” Apprentices may be invited to attend Junior Thespian troupe meetings and social events at the troupe’s discretion. Whether or not apprentices may vote is decided by the troupe in accordance with its troupe constitution. Although they are not official troupe members (Junior Thespians), Junior Thespian apprentices are affiliated with the troupe. Troupe affiliation may permit non-member students to participate in ITS events, festivals, and other troupe activities as troupe, chapter, and ITS rules permit.

Determining Junior Thespian induction eligibility

The International Thespian Society is the honor society for theatre arts students. Specifically, students earn the right to be inducted by accumulating points for their work and meeting other required criteria.

Mandatory school and student eligibility requirements are defined in the EdTA membership policy. Schools and students must meet all of these and any additional requirements defined in the handbook and troupe constitution for inductions to be granted.

ITS provides an official Junior Thespian point system to help determine induction eligibility as well as Junior Thespian point record sheets that make it easy to track each student’s earned points. Only the troupe director may award points. The troupe secretary or clerk/scribe is usually responsible for maintaining point records and making them available for each student’s personal review. Point records are kept at the troupe level. They are not sent to the home office.

Troupe directors are to notify students that records of their activities will be maintained and that honor society induction will be available when all criteria have been met. All induction requirements must be in writing and provided to all students involved in the school’s theatre program.

Induction criteria.

Grade at time of induction. Only students in grades 6 through 8 (or the international equivalent) may be inducted into a Junior Thespian troupe. Students in grades 9 through 12 are inducted into a high school Thespian troupe. We recommend that programs that serve students in both grade ranges charter a high school troupe and a Junior Thespian troupe.

School enrollment. If a student receives primary academic coursework from a school with an active troupe, he or she may only be inducted into and receive benefits through that troupe. Troupes may induct students who attend other schools only when those schools do not have their own active troupes. When a school charters or reinstates a Junior Thespian troupe to active status, Junior Thespians who attend that school but were inducted elsewhere must transfer to that troupe. See “Transferring Junior Thespians to a new school and troupe” below.

Junior Thespian points. The official ITS point system provides the recommended number of points awarded for a specific assignment. Troupe directors may use their discretion in awarding points according to the student’s quality of work and cooperation. Quality may include the caliber of the work done and the educational value of the experience. The Junior Thespian troupe director makes the final decision regarding the awarding of Junior Thespian points.

Troupes may adopt changes to the point system to meet the unique needs of the school’s theatre arts program and its students. For instance, the troupe may establish academic requirements for induction. The school’s administration should review any changes to the point system to ensure compatibility with school policies. Approved changes must be codified in the troupe constitution and shared with all theatre students. Troupes may send a copy to EdTA for the troupe’s permanent record.

ITS Junior Thespian point system summary.

  • For Junior Thespians, 1 point represents approximately 5 hours of excellent work. Use this formula in awarding points for items not specifically listed.
  • To become a Junior Thespian, a student must earn 10 points, 5 of which should be acquired at the school where he or she is to be inducted.
  • Induction points should be earned through participation in at least two productions, whether formally staged or informal class presentations.
  • Induction points should be earned in at least two of the listed categories, for example, acting and production.
  • Students may earn up to 5 points toward induction in the Junior Thespian troupe through participation in community, children’s, or professional theatre; in other theatre-related disciplines; or through participation in elementary school theatre. They may earn additional points in the same manner after induction at the troupe director’s discretion and upon knowledge or verification of participation.
  • Junior Thespian membership is offered to all students who qualify. No student can be elected into the troupe, and no student can be denied membership if he or she has fulfilled all membership requirements.

Additional criteria. The school or troupe director may adopt additional requirements for induction into ITS. Attendance, behavioral expectations, and community service projects are examples of criteria that may be considered when determining induction eligibility. Any changes must be documented in the troupe constitution. Criteria that violate school policy are not permitted.

Anti-hazing policy.As stated in the EdTA Membership Policy, “Students who have met all requirements must be issued invitations to be inducted into ITS. Under no circumstances are students elected to become ITS inductees. Induction is awarded in recognition of meritorious work in the theatre arts and achievement of academic requirements. In accordance with the Anti-Hazing Policy, as approved by the Board of Directors…hazing is forbidden.”

Inducting new Junior Thespian members

Troupes with active membership status may induct new members as often as they choose. The steps for inducting new Junior Thespians are:

Present membership invitation cards. The troupe director presents each eligible student with a personalized invitation to join ITS and the troupe. Membership invitation cards are provided free from the home office. To request invitation cards, e-mail a request to, or check the box on a merchandise order form, or order a pack free of charge from the EdTA Store using item code “JRINVITE.” If time is limited, a downloadable invitation sheet is also available on the ITS Troupe Documents page.

Gather student induction acceptance cards (RSVPs). Students receiving invitation cards must confirm their desire to be inducted by returning their RSVPs to the troupe director, ideally four weeks before the induction ceremony. This card will help verify each inductee’s current contact information. If students pay their own induction fees (some troupes include the cost of induction pins), payment should be provided to the troupe director according to school guidelines.

Induct your students online. At least four weeks prior to any induction ceremony, troupe directors should log in to their troupe homepage at and use the information they've collected to submit eligible students for induction. Only include new inductees; the one-time, Junior Thespian induction fee pays for a lifetime membership in the honor society. We accept payment online by credit card, or the troupe director can create and print an invoice and send it to us along with a check or school purchase order document. Membership cards and certificates will only be shipped once we receive full payment or an official school purchase order. It is possible to induct Junior Thespians and adult Honorary Thespians together and even place an order through the EdTA Store at the same time. All transactions included in one cart and one checkout will be invoiced together. Please arrange one payment or PO for the full amount of each invoice. If you are submitting inductions with a purchase order, please see “Appendix 2: Paying by purchase order and collection procedures” below. It is also possible to induct students using a paper roster form, which is available on the ITS Troupe Documents page.

Once the inductions are processed (two to three weeks), one personalized membership card and one blank membership certificate for each new inductee is sent to the troupe director for completion and presentation at the induction ceremony. Allow extra time for rosters or payment submitted by mail. If you need the membership credentials very quickly (under two to three weeks), we recommend paying for rush service, which will guarantee delivery of the membership certificates within five (5) business days of receipt of the properly completed induction and full payment or purchase order.

Personalize the membership certificates. Once an induction is complete, the home office will mail the troupe director one blank membership certificate for each new Junior Thespian. The troupe director should arrange for the certificates to be personalized before presentation at the induction ceremony.

Hold an induction ceremony. Most troupes choose to welcome and celebrate the accomplishments of their new Junior Thespian members through an induction ceremony. Please note that conducting a ceremony alone does not constitute induction. Suggestions for three types of induction ceremonies as well as specific recommendations for Junior Thespian ceremonies are available by download from the EdTA website.

Process payment of purchase orders. If your troupe paid for the induction with a purchase order, we will send the troupe director a new, numbered invoice for the amount of the fees. It is the troupe director’s responsibility to forward all invoices and statements for processing and prompt payment as required by your school’s payment policies and procedures. See “Appendix 2: Paying by purchase order and collection procedures” below.

Benefits of Junior Thespian induction

  • Membership in the only international honor society for high school and middle school theatre arts students—a recognized demonstration of achievement and a valuable addition to college and employment applications.
  • Ability to begin their high school careers with half of the Thespian points required for high school induction.
  • A membership certificate (see “Junior Thespian credentials” below).
  • A personalized membership card (see “Junior Thespian credentials” below).
  • Leadership opportunities at the troupe and chapter levels (per chapter policy).
  • Eligibility to participate in individual events at chapter conferences and the National Individual Events Showcase (NIES) at Festival (per chapter policy).
  • Eligibility to receive Junior Thespian honor items (induction pins, medallions, guards, point stars, etc.).
  • Eligibility to receive Junior Thespian scholar distinction for academic achievement.

Junior Thespians graduating to high school programs.When Junior Thespians graduate from grade 8 and move to a high school with a Thespian troupe, they remain Junior Thespian members and alumni of their Junior Thespian troupes. They also begin earning points toward a new Thespian membership and induction into the high school troupe. Thespian and Junior Thespian point awards are not the same. One Thespian point equals 10 hours of excellent work; one Junior Thespian point equals 5 hours of excellent work. Point conversions between troupes can be complicated. To simplify matters, ITS allows Junior Thespians to begin their high school careers with at least half of the Thespian points required for high school induction, normally 5 Thespian points. The decision as to how many additional points can be carried is made by the troupe director of the high school Thespian troupe, in accordance with the troupe’s constitution and bylaws.

Junior Thespian credentials

Junior Thespian credentials are documents used to verify affiliation with the International Thespian Society. There are two types:

Membership certificate. The home office sends one blank certificate to the troupe director for each new inductee. The troupe director fills out the membership certificate and presents it to the inductee, traditionally as part of an induction ceremony. Paper stars added to the membership certificate symbolize point levels and ratings earned after initial induction.

Membership card. The personalized membership card is proof that students have been inducted. Junior Thespian cards usually are mailed to the troupe director for distribution to the new inductees along with the membership certificates.

Some chapters require proof of induction to participate in auditions and other activities at their chapter conferences. Some member schools extend special deals and privileges (discounted tickets, free preview performances, special seating, etc.) to cardholding Thespians and Junior Thespians as part of a “good neighbor” program. Some local theatres and businesses may also extend similar deals to cardholders. Many companies jump at the opportunity to build a steady clientele of easily identifiable honor students. We encourage troupe directors to ask local businesses about offering Thespian and Junior Thespian perks to enhance the benefits of membership.

Replacing lost, damaged, or incorrect Junior Thespian credentials. Troupe directors can order replacements from the home office for a small fee by filling out and submitting the Junior Thespian Credentials Replacement Order Form. If the home office misprinted the card or certificate, please note the error and the correct information, and we will replace it at no charge.

Recognizing exceptional Junior Thespian achievement

Junior Thespian ratings.All Junior Thespians are theatre arts honor students, and induction as a Junior Thespian is the first of many honors that troupes may bestow on a student. However, the International Thespian Society recognizes additional achievement ratings beyond induction. Troupe directors should continue tracking Junior Thespian points after induction and use these points to recognize ongoing Junior Thespian achievements.

Junior Thespian stars are presented to acknowledge each additional 10 points (or 50 hours) earned. Star ratings should be designated on the student’s membership certificate under “Junior Thespian Stars Earned.” Officially, Junior Thespians may earn a maximum of 5 stars, although troupe directors may continue to award additional stars at their discretion. We also encourage the troupe to indicate star ratings after the student names on playbills, membership rolls, and in other printed materials.

Junior Thespian scholar distinction. Officially inducted Junior Thespians who demonstrate high academic success in overall coursework may earn the distinction of scholar. The scholar distinction always follows the student’s ITS rank to create his or her full designation: Junior Thespian Scholar. Troupes wishing to acknowledge star ratings may add them to the beginning of the designation, for example: 4-star Junior Thespian Scholar. Troupe directors may award the scholar distinction if:

  1. The student has been inducted officially into ITS through the EdTA home office.
  2. The student is currently enrolled in the school and a member-in-good-standing of the school’s ITS troupe.
  3. The student has earned a minimum, cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or its local equivalent for all academic coursework as determined upon completion of 7th grade or any official grading period thereafter. Students with a 3.5 GPA become  Vice President's List Scholars, and students with a 4.0 GPA are awarded the President's List Scholar Distinction.
  4. The student has fulfilled any additional local criteria required by the troupe.

Troupes may require additional criteria that are higher than those established by ITS. Examples might include a higher GPA, an additional minimum GPA for theatre arts coursework, a star rating of 2 or higher, etc. All troupe criteria must meet the minimum EdTA criteria. Troupe criteria cannot conflict with the letter or spirit of the guidelines and policies established by EdTA.

Upon completion of 8th grade, Junior Thespian Scholars retain that designation, but they must earn new Thespian scholar distinctions for their academic work in high school.

Junior Thespian honors program. ITS offers many items for recognizing Junior Thespian achievement. Junior Thespian honor items can only be purchased by official troupe directors of active Junior Thespian troupes for presentation to inducted Junior Thespians. Presentation of induction pins and other honor items is a Junior Thespian tradition, but it is not mandatory. Actual use varies from troupe to troupe, often based on local economic factors and school policy. Work closely with your school administration to determine which honor items are appropriate.

Honor items are available through the Thespian Honors and Spirit Catalog, which is mailed to troupe directors each February. Troupe directors may also order honor items through our online EdTA Store by using their log-in IDs and passwords (see “Website log-in IDs and passwords” above).

Junior Thespian honor items and their use.

Note: These items may only be purchased by the official troupe directors of active Junior Thespian troupes. Certificates may be hand-lettered or printed using any high-quality laser printer.

1. Junior Thespian membership certificates. These are also considered membership credentials (see “Junior Thespian credentials” above). All ITS certificates are printed in two colors and feature heat-resistant gold foil seals and trim.

2. The Junior Thespian pin and ribbon system. Junior Thespian induction pins are the foundation of the ITS system for recognizing point awards and ratings. The ITS honors ribbon is a combination of a metal pin and a fabric ribbon. Junior Thespians can attach their induction pins, and additional pins are available to for officers and Junior Thespian scholars. Each point star added to the ribbon represents 10 additional Junior Thespian points earned. Pins and ribbons are traditionally displayed at induction ceremonies, the Thespian and Junior Thespian Festivals, chapter conferences and festivals, and other formal troupe activities. They are often worn as a lapel pin on school jackets, shirts, sport coats/suit jackets, or dresses. All items are available in the Thespian Honors and Spirit Catalog and the online EdTA Store.

The following chart provides guidelines for the Junior Thespian pin and ribbon system.

Junior Thespian points


Honor item awarded


Honor item signifies



Junior Thespian induction pin.

Official Junior Thespian induction achieved. First 10 points accumulated.


ITS honors ribbon, scholar pin, and/or officer pin may be worn with the Junior Thespian pin.

Scholar pins are presented to Junior Thespian scholars. Officer pins are presented to troupe president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, and clerk/scribe.


One Junior Thespian point star attached to ribbon.

20 points accumulated. Induction pin = 10 points. 1 point star = 10 additional points (1-star Junior Thespian).


Second star added to ribbon. One star added for each 10 points earned to a maximum of five.

30–60 points accumulated (2- to 5-star Junior Thespian).


Troupe directors may continue to award point stars at 10-point increments (optional).

70+ points accumulated (6+-star Junior Thespian.


3. Junior Thespian award medallions. Medallions may be presented to any inducted Junior Thespian. They can represent any level of achievement the troupe director or EdTA chapter director deems appropriate.

4. Thespian seals. These self-adhesive, embossed, gold-foil seals are commonly used to create official troupe documents, seal induction invitations, or seal envelopes for official troupe correspondence.

5. Thespian paper stars. These self-adhesive foil stickers are usually placed at the bottom of the Junior Thespian membership certificate under the heading, “Junior Thespian Stars Earned.” Each paper star represents an additional 10 points earned. Officially, Junior Thespians may earn a maximum of 5 stars. Troupe directors may award additional stars at their discretion.

6. Junior Thespian trophies, plaques, and awards. EdTA has licensed a top national awards company to provide a full complement of outstanding personalized trophies, plaques, and presentation pieces. Troupes may present these items to anyone. Each item features the ITS icon. Text is sublimated (print that is bonded into the metal) rather than engraved for greater impact. There are recognition items to suit every need a troupe or chapter director has.. See the full line in the Thespian Awards Catalog or online at the ITS Trophy Awards Store.

7. Junior Thespian certificates of recognition. Certificates of recognition are presented for many reasons at the troupe and chapter level. They may be presented to Junior Thespians and non-Junior Thespians (parents, patrons, administrators, and volunteers, for example) at the troupe or chapter director’s discretion.

Inducting Honorary Thespians

Honorary Thespians are adults who perform outstanding service for a Thespian or Junior Thespian troupe. They are typically parent or community volunteers, school employees, or generous patrons. They receive an Honorary Thespian membership card, certificate, and a one-year subscription to Dramatics magazine. Many troupes also add Honorary Thespians to their official membership roll. Troupe directors induct Honorary Thespians online through their troupe homepage. See “Who is a member of the Junior Thespian troupe?” section above for more details.

Transferring Junior Thespians to a new school and troupe

When a Junior Thespian transfers to a middle/junior high school that has an active Junior Thespian troupe, the troupe director at that school must submit a Junior Thespian membership transfer form to the home office to make the student an official member of their new troupe. There is no fee for this transfer.

Note: Transferring Junior Thespians should not be submitted as new members, and do not need to pay any additional fees to the home office. A new membership certificate and/or membership card that includes the student’s new troupe information can be ordered using the transfer form.

Once the transfer form is processed, the Junior Thespian will be a member of the new troupe. Junior Thespian troupes must accept transferring Junior Thespians with a minimum of 10 points or the number of points required for induction at the new school, whichever is higher. The new troupe director, as guided by the troupe constitution, will determine whether or not points over the 10 required for induction will be recognized at the new troupe. All, some, or none of the points of Junior Thespian apprentices may be accepted by the new troupe. Transferring Junior Thespians may be required to fulfill certain additional expectations to receive local troupe benefits at their new school.

If a Junior Thespian transfers to a school without an active Junior Thespian troupe, he or she will remain a member of their original troupe. The student may or may not be eligible to earn additional points and receive local troupe benefits through that troupe at the discretion of its troupe director and the troupe constitution. We encourage Junior Thespians transferring to unaffiliated schools to ask about chartering a new troupe there. Many successful troupes were founded by transferring Thespians and Junior Thespians.

When Junior Thespians graduate from grade 8 and move to a high school with a Thespian troupe, they don’t transfer their Junior Thespian membership. Instead, they remain Junior Thespian alumni of their Junior Troupe and begin earning points toward a new Thespian membership and induction into the high school troupe. See “Junior Thespians graduating to high school programs” section above for more details.

The Junior Thespian transfer process.

  1. Verify induction. If the student does not have a Junior Thespian membership card, the troupe director should verify the student’s induction with the home office. The Junior Thespian’s name, previous school name, previous troupe number, and previous city/state should be faxed to (513) 421-7055 or sent by e-mail to
  2. Submit a transfer form. Download a Junior Thespian Transfer Student Membership form from the EdTA website.
  3. Order new Junior Thespian credentials (optional). The transfer form permits you to order a new induction certificate and/or membership card for your new Junior Thespian. Please allow 2 to 3 weeks for processing.

Troupe record requests

Troupes should keep accurate records of all student inductions, including copies of all induction roster forms. Troupe directors may access lists of active and alumni troupe members going back to mid-1998 through their online troupe homepage. Troupe directors use the online EdTA Store or the current year’s Thespian Honors and Spirit Catalog to order “troupe records research.” This will provide the troupe director with copies of all rosters sent to us in the year range requested. Records going back five years should provide an accurate picture of your troupe’s current membership. Ordering records past five years could help with outreach or fundraising efforts to Junior Thespian alumni.

Addressing Junior Thespian or parent concerns about the troupe

Check the EdTA code of regulations and membership policy. Most questions are answered by these documents, which define the mandatory components of membership and the Association.

Check the troupe’s constitution.Every Thespian troupe and Junior Thespian troupe is guided by a troupe constitution (see “Troupe constitution and bylaws” above).

Meet with the troupe director, concerned parent, or student. Often a meeting is all that’s needed to address concerns by providing additional information and/or dispelling rumors. It is vital that all parties approach meetings in a professional and respectful manner. The troupe director is in the best position to see the big picture, and it’s important for students and family to respect their authority and responsibility.

Meet with the school administration. Because a school administrator signs the application to charter a troupe, the ultimate authority rests in that office. It is the administration that appoints the troupe director and oversees performance. The administration is in the best position to diagnose local problems and implement adequate solutions.

Additional student opportunities

Chapter festival/conferences.Most EdTA/ITS chapters conduct an annual Thespian and/or Junior Thespian festival or conference. Most include performance opportunities for troupes and individuals and various workshops. The chapter director will provide information about this and any other chapter activities.

Junior Thespian Festivals. Each year EdTA produces at least one three-day weekend festival for middle school theatre students. Locations change annually to allow students from different regions to participate. Junior Thespian Festivals are designed to address the needs of the emerging theatre student in a safe environment with others just like themselves. Students participate in workshops on topics such as acting, improv, dance, scene painting, and stage combat. There are many opportunities to perform and enjoy the performances of others. Unique to these events is the Team Play-Create program, which actively teaches students about the process of creating an original play from their own initial ideas based on the festival theme, to the development of a script, to the final presentation on stage. Students are assigned to teams randomly, which provides them with a comfortable way to meet and work with students from other schools.

Registration materials are mailed to Junior Thespian troupe directors each fall and are available on the EdTA website as well.

International Thespian Festival.In late June, hundreds of Thespian and Junior Thespian troupes and thousands of students gather for six days of performances, workshops, scholarship and college auditions, Individual Events, and camaraderie. While organized with high school students in mind, students 12 years of age and older are welcome. Festival attendees are treated to some of the best high school theatre in the world, from fully mounted, invitation-only, main stage productions; chapter selected shows; and short cuttings and one-acts that any troupe is welcome to share (Freestyle Theatre). This is truly the ultimate high school theatre experience.

Each fall the Festival Opportunities Guide (FOG) is posted to the Festival section of our website. It contains details about the many ways a troupe or student may choose to participate in the next Festival. Troupes that haven’t already done so will want to begin planning their Festival trip right away.

Festival offers a unique opportunity for students to gain a more global perspective of our art and to perform for an international audience of peers. It is an approved activity of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Registration begins in February.

Chapter and international student leadership.In addition to the leadership opportunities available to Junior Thespian students within their troupe, some chapters permit Junior Thespians to seek and hold office at the chapter level. EdTA encourages each chapter to conduct leadership training and to hold an annual election for chapter student officers. These students join their adult board members in planning and running chapter activities. Junior Thespians interested in serving as student officers should contact their chapter director for more information.

Services and benefits for Junior Thespian troupes and directors

Professional member benefits of the troupe director and affiliate professional members

Troupe directors and affiliate professional members are professional members of the Educational Theatre Association, the professional association for theatre education. The troupe director’s membership is active as long as the troupe’s membership is active and the individual remains the troupe director. Affiliate professional membership remains active for a full year from the start date and may be renewed as long as the individual remains affiliated with an active ITS troupe.

Troupe director and affiliate member benefit list.See below for details on some of the listed benefits.

  • A one-year subscription to Teaching Theatre, our quarterly journal for theatre educators (a $34 value)
  • A one-year subscription to Dramatics magazine (nine issues, September through May) (a $27 value)
  • Member rates for EdTA educational programs and events
  • Special member pricing for classroom resources through our catalog or online EdTA Store
  • Access to members-only features of our website, including the EdTA Store and online member directory
  • The ability to nominate and be considered for EdTA awards and grants
  • The ability to nominate, vote, and run for elected office in the Association
  • Advocacy support and representation at the national, chapter, and local levels
  • EdTA e-bulletins with timely and important information from the EdTA/ITS home office

Publications and resources.

Dramatics. Published monthly September through May, Dramatics is the only magazine that is edited exclusively for students and teachers of theatre to use in the classroom as an educational resource. The magazine publishes at least six new plays each year and features articles on all aspects of theatre arts, profiles of theatre professionals, instructional pieces on technical theatre, and more. Troupe directors receive a one-year subscription with their membership.

Dramatics annual special issues.

  • The Festival recap in the September issue features a celebratory look back at the summer’s Thespian Festival and publication of the winning Thespian Playworks submissions.
  • The College Theatre Directory, published in December, lists and describes hundreds of college and university theatre programs.
  • The Summer Theatre Directory in the February issue annually lists and describes opportunities for students to study, perform, or find work in theatre over the summer break.

Teaching Theatre. Published quarterly, Teaching Theatre is the journal of record for the field of theatre education and is written to be used by theatre educators, college students pursuing an educational theatre degree, and supporters of educational theatre. This publication features articles on theatre curriculum, profiles of exemplary theatre programs, advocacy news, stories about the latest trends in theatre education, and hands-on, how-to pieces on everything from scenery to directing.

Professional development opportunities.

EdTA Annual Conference. The event for busy theatre education professionals, Conference features practical workshops designed to be integrated into the classroom. Attendees learn about the latest trends in theatre education, hear from some of the most respected voices in the field, explore new subjects and techniques, and discover the newest programs and products in our Theatre Educator’s Expo area. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and college credit are available.

EdTA Professional Development Institute (PDI). These intensive training programs for theatre education professionals are one- or two-day workshops focused on a single topic. PDI attendees explore subjects that extend their professional arsenal. Sample topics include: directing musicals, curriculum mapping, teaching acting, and lighting. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and college credit are available.

For more information on EdTA’s Professional Development Institutes and Annual Conference, see the “Events & Programs” section of EdTA’s website.

Additional troupe benefits and services

List of additional troupe benefits and services. See below for details.

  • Thespian and Junior Thespian honors and spirit gear merchandise
  • Rush service for merchandise and dues processing
  • Royalty adjustments for productions
  • EdTA/ITS awards and recognition
  • TOTS-EAT community service initiative
  • Affiliate professional memberships
  • Free troupe record keeping supplies

Thespian and Junior Thespian honors and spirit gear merchandise.To signify special achievement, troupe directors may wish to award students with official Junior Thespian induction pins, trophies, medallions, and more (see “Junior Thespian honor items and their use” above). Junior Thespians can show their theatre spirit with a variety of items available for purchase such as magnets, buttons, stickers, etc. A catalog of available items and information about how to order them is sent to all troupe directors each year. All items are available for purchase through the online EdTA Store as well. Thespian apparel and other items and services are available at special member rates through officially licensed vendors. Contact the home office for details.

Rush service for dues and merchandise processing. While the home office recommends that troupes induct new Junior Thespians throughout the year after each production, many troupes hold a single induction ceremony in the spring. In fact, 85 percent of all inductees and catalog orders are received between April 15 and June 15. We call this time period “rush season.” With this in mind, we recommend that troupe directors plan for their inductions well in advance. Normal processing during rush season is two to three weeks. Troupe directors may purchase priority rush service to receive their induction or merchandise materials within five business days after receipt of the forms and payment by the home office. Details and fees are listed wherever the rush service option is available. Each transaction requires a separate rush fee for priority service.

Note: Allow extra days for orders submitted by mail. We suggest that rush orders be submitted online or faxed with an official purchase order or credit card information. This is the best way to establish the beginning of the five-day processing and delivery period. The five-day process period does not begin until the induction or order is error-free and paid in full.

Royalty reductions for productions. The ITS royalty reduction program permits troupe directors to apply for discounted rates on royalties for upcoming productions through cooperating play publishers. This program is only available when:

1. The play is a non-musical. Royalty reductions are not available for musicals because of difficulties publishers face negotiating with multiple creators (author, lyricist, composer, etc.).

2. The play is not published by Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc. This company does not participate in any royalty reduction programs for educational institutions.

3. The play was not written by certain excluded authors, e.g. Neil Simon and David Mamet. Such authors deny all requests to reduce royalties or authorize edits for language, content, or excerpt purposes.

4. The school is low income or economically challenged, i.e. Title 1 schools.      

5. The school has no arts budget.

6. The school has a new theatre program (less than one year).

7. The school is rebuilding due to an "Act of God."

8. The school is producing the play under other extremely difficult or unusual circumstances.

To apply, submit a completed application form to the home office as soon as you’ve chosen the play to be produced or at least thirty days before the expected opening. Download the form from the “ITS Troupe Documents” web page.

Note: One easy source for determining the official title, author, and publisher of a play is online at

Approved applications are forwarded to the publisher noted on the form. The publisher has sole authority to determine whether or not a royalty reduction will be made. If an adjustment is granted, the publisher will contact the troupe director with details. The adjusted fee is payable to the publisher at least two weeks before the opening of the play; otherwise the adjustment is no longer available.

EdTA/ITS awards and recognition. EdTA offers numerous international-level awards that recognize quality theatre programs, students, educators, and administrators for outstanding achievement in educational theatre. Awards information is sent to troupe directors each fall. Award information and applications are available here.

EdTA Administrator’s Award. With this award, troupe directors honor exemplary service and support for theatre education by outstanding school district administrators.

EdTA Hall of Fame Award. Each year EdTA bestows its highest honor on up to four individuals who have devoted more than 20 years of service to the educational theatre field.

International Thespian Society Honorary Thespian of the Year Award. ITS recognizes up to three individuals annually who have gone above and beyond the standard duties of a volunteer.

International Thespian Society's Inspirational Theatre Educator Award. The International Thespian Society recognizes up to three individuals annually who have inspired their students and dedicated themselves to providing quality theatre education.  

The International Thespian Society's Spirit of Thespis Award. The International Thespian Society recognizes up to three schools that have exemplified the adage “the show must go on” by demonstrating grace under pressure when faced with a serious challenge.

TOTS-EAT community service initiative. TOTS-EAT is the International Thespian Society’s annual nationwide community service initiative to collect food for the hungry. This is the perfect project for students who want to help the less fortunate in their community. Participating troupes may earn ITS community service awards. Details are available at

Affiliate professional memberships. Adults affiliated with an ITS member school are eligible to join their school’s troupe director as a members of EdTA for the special rate of $50 ($25 off he standard professional dues of $75). Any number of local troupe co-directors, assistant directors, faculty, administrators, advisers, and active troupe alumni may take advantage of this opportunity.

Affiliate professional members enjoy the same basic benefits as troupe directors, but only the troupe director has official ITS troupe leadership authority. This gives him or her the ability to do such things as sign forms and applications, award ITS points, induct students into ITS, order and award Thespian honor items, access troupe account information, etc.

The troupe director must verify affiliation for all applicants. The renewal notices for affiliate professional members are sent to the troupe director’s attention at the school address. He or she should forward such notices to their affiliate members to ensure prompt renewal. If individuals are no longer affiliated with the school, the troupe director should notify the home office. Unaffiliated individuals may become professional members at the standard professional rate of $75.

Free troupe recordkeeping supplies. The home office provides an array of supplies specifically designed to assist troupe directors in organizing and managing their troupes. Junior Thespian point record sheets, induction invitations, and other items for maintaining troupe activities are available at no charge to active troupes. The full list is in the Thespian Honors and Spirit Catalog and on the “ITS troupe documents” page of the EdTA website.

EdTA and ITS logos

We encourage our members to promote their affiliation with EdTA and ITS. You may use the black and white versions of the logos below in theatre programs and on promotional flyers. Please note that these logos are registered service marks of the Association. You may not modify their design without written permission from the EdTA/ITS home office (you may re-size logos if necessary), and you may use them only in the context of proclaiming your school’s membership in EdTA and/or ITS. You may not use these logos in any way that implies that the EdTA/ITS chapter or international organizations are directly responsible for your troupe’s activities or governance, financial or otherwise. For detailed information about the use of EdTA/ITS logos, including color options, editing/distorting, and use/placement, please contact EdTA’s marketing department at the home office.

Appendix 1: Ideas and advice for troupe directors

This appendix, while not part of the official Junior Thespian Troupe Handbook, offers valuable suggestions from veteran troupe directors. Often, the EdTA home office staff can help connect you with other troupe directors who have had experience with particular activities that you are considering for your troupe.

Note: Suggestions provided below may require special arrangements with publishers. Please respect copyright laws and ensure that any performances have the appropriate performance license and meet the royalty payment requirements of the publishing company.

Making the most of available help

Keep an index card (or computer) file that lists the talents and services available in the student body, faculty, and community, filed under specific categories for quick reference. Categories might include artists, antique collectors, bakers, carpenters, dancers, hairdressers, lighting technicians, lumber companies, musicians, plumbers, photographers, etc. The more categories you are able to cover, the more useful it will be to your troupe. One troupe member (often the clerk/scribe) should be responsible for the maintenance of the file so that it will always be up to date.

Establish a partnership with the local community or professional theatres—many schools have been adopted by their local theatre, opening the way for professional assistance, facility tours, inexpensive or free attendance at productions, loans of sets or equipment, and use of rehearsal space.

Delegate responsibilities to your troupe officers—that’s why they’re there. A flexible yet far-reaching calendar will help you and your troupe officers plan for heavy work periods.

Sign work contracts with your theatre students, spelling out your expectations about attending rehearsals, working tech, participating in classes, etc. Don’t forget to include what they can expect of you!

Establish a parent booster group. Parents are great resources to connections in the community, possible publicity angles, and fundraising opportunities. This is a great way to encourage parental involvement in your program and to let parents see the value of theatre arts education.

Educational activities

Arrange with the local high school, college or university, and/or community or professional theatre to attend a final dress rehearsal and meet-the-cast session. Many groups are willing to extend this service free of charge.

Offer lectures and discussions related to your current productions. Many schools organize theatre-related field trips, both locally and to national theatre centers such as New York City or Los Angeles.

Arrange for interested students to serve short internships, usher, or otherwise assist at local high school, professional, and community theatres.

Many troupes will join with others in their area to offer a summer theatre camp for younger students or leadership retreat for Thespians and Junior Thespians.

Touring and outreach programs

Some troupes have developed a talent corps on which they maintain an index file to supply various types of talent—on call—to community organizations. The officers easily call upon the talents of all members of the troupe when entertainment is requested. Skits and readings must be kept ready to avoid a last-minute scramble for an act. A touring group can be a great community service or source of extra funds, and students will find having an act ready for immediate use a valuable experience.

Troupes have toured children’s theatre productions, readers theatre performance groups, storytellers, promotional excerpts of productions, an improvisation group focusing on teen-related themes, one-act plays, puppet shows (about any number of issues and themes), and a myriad of other performances to a vast array of sites, including local arts festivals, other high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, state prisons, public libraries, malls, homeless shelters, senior citizen homes, hospitals, and museum open houses.

Promoting your program

There are many ways to publicize the theatre activities at your school. Some ideas from our members:

  • Send two-for-one coupons for tickets to a community mailing list (check with your local chamber of commerce).
  • Perform improvisations or short plays during school lunch periods.
  • Have feeder schools participate in regular productions and talent shows.
  • Perform excerpts of productions for students in the grade about to enter your program, to recruit for next year’s classes and productions.
  • Occasionally cast school faculty or administrators in your productions, when appropriate.
  • Bus students in from other schools to see shows.
  • Hold special open dress rehearsals for other student or community groups.
  • Start a mentor program, pairing a middle school theatre student with an interested elementary school student.
  • Hold a playwriting contest for elementary school students, and have winning scripts directed and produced by the Junior Thespian troupe.
  • March in your community parades.
  • Perform at local community festivals.
  • Research opportunities to appear on local or public access television programs in order to promote your troupe’s activities.
  • Send press releases to local papers and public service announcements to local radio stations.

Performance and fundraising ideas

Troupes have reported success with many variations of dinner theatre. Dinners range from the very informal (a box lunch) to more formal affairs. The meal might be served in the same room as the performance or in a separate dining room—one troupe reports success with a dinner theatre evening on a train. The production could be a collection of skits that have been used earlier in the year, or it may be a talent show, one-act, or full-length production. Troupes have produced dinner theatre evenings with student-written plays as well, while other troupes hold annual murder-mystery dinners to raise funds.

Productions can raise funds in ways other than ticket sales. Many schools sell program advertisements to local businesses/family members. Program ads may not always generate extra revenue, but they allow you to have professional-looking programs printed at no cost to you. Some schools have patron programs that generate upfront money for the program. Patron levels are established (as well as benefits for these levels of giving) and patron names are listed in each program. Anyone working on a production loves to receive notes of congratulations or flowers after the show. Some schools sell flowers, candy, theatre-related merchandise, or show-grams to allow parents, friends, and other supporters to congratulate the hard work of actors, technicians, musicians, and other production staff members.

Many troupes have raised funds by collaborating with local businesses. Many businesses will donate materials in exchange for advertising space in your program. Some will sponsor major purchases. One program had to use folding chairs for their performances and the audiences found them uncomfortable. A local business donated cushions for the chairs that were imprinted with their company logo and location.

Other ideas include special events with a theatrical flair, such as a Halloween haunted house, or a carnival that makes use of the theatre department costumes. Or find a theme or a twist in any production that might lend itself to a publicity activity or fundraising event.

The EdTA Fundraising Toolkit is designed to give you some fresh fundraising ideas, arm you with some basic rules of fundraising, and help you bring in more money with less work. See the professional resources section of the website.

Community service

Many troupes actively support important causes in their communities. Some examples:

The International Thespian Society’s annual canned food drive, Trick or Treat so Kids Can Eatsm (TOTS-EATsm), is the perfect combination of a great community service project and a wonderful public relations opportunity. Full details, including ITS community service awards, are at the TOTS-EAT website,

Have your troupe members put their acting skills to use serving as victims for emergency medical service disaster drills.

Troupes do volunteer work for local theatres; a Junior Thespian troupe in Florida helped rebuild their community’s professional theatre after a hurricane. Others reached out from across the country to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Many troupes use some of their funds to help lower-income students attend theatre productions and other cultural events. Others host holiday parties for disadvantaged or physically challenged children, or the elderly. A number of troupes offer theatre workshops for other student groups in their communities.

Productions themselves can serve the community. Troupes tour productions dealing with issues such as AIDS, bullying, violence, safety, and drug and alcohol abuse. Still others donate proceeds from a performance to a local charity.

Technical theatre skills can be a valuable community service as well. Troupes report providing services for their local arts festivals, the Chamber of Commerce follies, variety show fundraisers for community charities, and assisting other school organizations such as the PTA with assembly activities.

Social activities

Most troupes offer social activities for their members, both locally and in cooperation with other troupes. Here are some ideas:

  • Attend the induction ceremony at a neighboring school. Be sure to wear your induction pins.
  • Assist with the induction ceremony at the local high school.
  • Induction ceremony activities at your school.
  • Host get-togethers with other troupes—karaoke, dances, theatre sports day, exchange meetings.
  • Host reunions with Junior Thespian alumni.
  • Throw cast parties.
  • Share transportation with other troupes to chapter conferences, Junior Thespian Festivals, or the International Thespian Festival.
  • Sponsor troupes from smaller schools to attend chapter conferences.
  • Team up with a neighbor school for the Trick or Treat so Kids Can Eat campaign, then celebrate your efforts with a pizza party.

Appendix 2: Paying by purchase order and collection procedures

Many schools prefer to arrange payment by purchase order (PO), which is a request for short-term credit that allows the school to pre-authorize payments requisitioned by their employees. For most transactions, EdTA/ITS will accept a copy of an official school purchase order complete with a PO number and an administrator’s signature—a PO number alone will not suffice. Payment terms are net 30 days. Shortly after processing, EdTA mails an invoice for the amount of the PO to the troupe director. The troupe director must forward invoices to the individual or department responsible for arranging payment to ensure the balance on the troupe’s account is paid in a timely manner. For questions regarding outstanding balances, the troupe director should contact the member service center at the home office.

Late payment will result in collection efforts that include:

  1. Credit hold. EdTA will decline purchase orders from the school and will not extend credit of any kind until six months after payment has been received in full. While on credit hold, the troupe must pay in full by check, money order, or credit card.
  2. Contacting the school administration. If EdTA can’t establish effective collection communication with the troupe director, the home office will contact the business office, principal, and the superintendent at later stages of the collection process to arrange for payment.
  3. Suspension of active status. In addition to a credit hold, the member benefits of the troupe and its troupe director will be suspended until payment is received in full.
  4. Withdrawal of active status. In addition to a credit hold, the suspended troupe will be withdrawn from active status. To return to active status, the troupe director must pay the outstanding balance in full as well as a troupe reinstatement fee.
  5. Permanent credit hold. EdTA may decline purchase orders from schools with a history of serious collection problems. Troupes on permanent credit hold must pay in full by check, money order, or credit card.

For questions regarding collection efforts, troupe directors should contact the accounts receivable coordinator at the home office.

Appendix 3: ITS troupe documents

Below is a list of the most frequently used ITS membership forms that are available for download from the ITS documents library.

  1. High school Thespian troupe membership application(to charter a new high school Thespian troupe)
  2. High school Thespian roster form(to induct new Thespians)
  3. High school membership reinstatement form(to reinstate a troupe whose membership has lapsed)
  4. High school Thespian credentials replacement order(to replace lost or damaged Thespian cards or certificates)
  5. High school Thespian transfer student membership form(for students transferring their membership from one Thespian troupe to another)
  6. Junior Thespian troupe membership application(to charter a new Junior Thespian troupe)
  7. Junior Thespian roster form(to induct new Junior Thespians)
  8. Junior Thespian membership reinstatement form(to reinstate a Junior Thespian troupe whose membership has lapsed)
  9. Junior Thespian credentials replacement order(to replace lost or damaged Junior Thespian cards or certificates)
  10. Junior Thespian transfer student membership form(for students transferring their membership from one Junior Thespian troupe to another)
  11. Honorary Thespian membership roster form(to recognize those adults who, by their service to Thespians, deserve to be inducted as honorary Thespians in a troupe)
  12. Change of troupe director/troupe information update sheet(use when troupe director changes or to update troupe information)
  13. Application for royalty adjustment(to apply for reduced royalties for future productions)
  14. Ceremonies (to celebrate a new troupe charter and the induction of student members)
  15. High school Thespian point record sheet(use this sheet to record students’ points as they participate in theatre activities to determine Thespian induction and honor Thespian status)
  16. High school Thespian point system(official point system for determining Thespian induction and honor Thespian status)
  17. Junior Thespian point record sheet(use this sheet to record students’ points as they participate in theatre activities to determine Junior Thespian induction status)
  18. Junior Thespian point system(official point system for use in determining Junior Thespian induction status)
  19. Troupe constitution template(formal codification of your troupe’s rules and regulations)
  20. High School Thespian Troupe Handbook
  21. Junior Thespian Troupe Handbook
  22. EdTA affiliate professional membership application
  23. Order form for Thespian honors, spirit, and resources
  24. Order form for awards, trophies, and plaques
  25. EdTA code of professional standards
  26. EdTA code of regulations (formerly known as the EdTA constitution)
  27. EdTA conflicts of interest policy
  28. EdTA membership policy
  29. EdTA chapter governance policy
  30. EdTA governing board policy manual
  31. EdTA membership FAQs, PDF version
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