I find myself getting more and more excited as Stage Rights prepares to exhibit at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska. My excitement is almost immeasurable. I had always dreamed of attending the International Thespian Festival back when I was in high school. I was very active in my high school’s Masquers Society, in which was one of the first 100 troupes to become part of Thespians (troupe # 41). My high school had brought Noises Off to the festival several years before, and I heard the experience was incredible and life changing. Sadly, we never got to go while I attended high school so the fact that I get to go at this stage in my life is truly a dream come true.
Part of my excitement about attending the festival is the ability to meet the stars of tomorrow. A visitor to the Stage Rights booth might very well be the next Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sutton Foster, or Audra McDonald. In addition to meeting these future stars at our booth, I also get to see them in action. As exhibitors, we have the opportunity to attend mainstage performances, and with such a variety of performances taking place this year, every school’s interpretation is sure to leave me feeling inspired. Plus, theatre rats LOVE to talk about theatre. We live for it. I get to spend a big chunk of next week talking about theatre. I get to talk to students and teachers about what they are looking for in a show, what aspects of theatre excites them the most, what their favorite plays and musicals are, and then I get to talk to them about the exciting opportunities Stage Rights offers. Since many of the works in our repertoire are new and have not yet enjoyed a full scale production – or have only been performed a few times – I can offer students and teachers the exciting opportunity to create a show completely from scratch, where young actors can be the first to breathe life into brand new characters and designers can use their imaginations to create fresh new worlds supporting stories that have yet to be told.
Why is the International Thespian Festival so important? It’s simple. It proves that theatre is truly a universal language. Attendees of the festival come from far and wide representing countless different dialects, cultures, customs, and beliefs. However, all of us (both attendees and exhibitors) have a passion for live theatre. While I may speak a different dialect than someone from Dallas, Texas, I am sure we will both be singing versus from Hamilton, Spring Awakening, or A Chorus Line. Right there, we have found a common thread that can help us connect. High school popularity and social standing may be incredibly important facets of high school life for some students, while others may focus more on academics or sports. However, those differences can actually help students bond at the festival. Students will be standing side by side at many of the festival’s workshops and conferences, in interactive settings, learning about the latest innovations in theatrical theory, concept, and practice. As the practice of theatre utilizes many different facets of academic life, such as language arts, literature, physical fitness, history, public speaking, and even math, students can actually be brought together by contributing their strengths to reach the ultimate outcome. At the International Thespian Festival, differences are regarded as strengths as opposed to weaknesses.
The International Thespian Festival runs from June 20-June 25 at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. We look forward to meeting all of the attendees and vendors at the festival.