International Thespian Society
The International Thespian Society has been honoring excellence in the work of theatre students since 1929. Thespian troupes serve students in grades nine through twelve. There are at present active ITS troupes in more than 3,900 high schools and middle schools, mostly in the United States and Canada. The Society recently inducted its two millionth Thespian.
Each troupe is led by a troupe director who is a professional member of the Educational Theatre Association. Students earn an invitation to Thespian Society membership on the basis of their achievements in the school’s theatre program. Details of the membership benefits Thespians enjoy can be found on the Educational Theatre Association website: http://schooltheatre.org
Mounds Park Academy is proud member of ITS. Each year 15-20 new Thespians are inducted into the International Thespian Society at MPA. What is a Thespian? Actors and actresses are called thespians in honor of Thespis, a Greek playwright and performer. Around 535 B.C., Thespis added a new dimension to drama by stepping out of the Greek chorus during a performance and reciting portions of the text alone, becoming the first actor. He is also credited with inventing the theatrical mask.
“It is generally supposed that Thespis, who managed a traveling company, transported his actors in wagons, which also served as their stage,” according to The Cassell Companion to Theatre, which quotes this couplet from John Dryden:
Thespis, the first professor of our art,
At country wakes sang ballads from a cart.
Thespian with an uppercase “T” refers to a member of the International Thespian Society, the world’s largest honor society for theatre students. The designation “Thespian” includes student members who excel in technical and production fields as well as performance in their high school theatre.