Calvert High theater students participate in annual festival

Angelique Gingras, Author, Editor

Thousands of students from around the country are inducted into the International Thespian Society (ITS) through their school’s theatre department every year. Founded in 1929, the purpose of this program is to recognize students who have a passion for theatre and promote theatre in schools that do not have it.  

Each year, theatre students can participate in the Thespian Festival hosted by their state, and later, the International Thespian Festival. On January 10, members of the theatre department at Calvert High traveled to Towson University in Baltimore County in participate in the two-day Maryland Thespian Festival.  

The Maryland Thespian Festival consists of workshops pertaining to anything drama-related including acting, singing, dancing, costumes, puppetry, and so much more. Through an app called Guidebook, students can view what workshops and activities are available and attend up to 10 sessions throughout the weekend.  

These workshops are taught by volunteers and masters of their craft who dedicate their weekend to spread their love of theatre. Some special guests that attended this year’s festival included Karen Burthwright, Broadway Performer; Joe Grandy and Erin Craig, Broadway Producers; Quae Simpson, CEO of Q Entertainment; and many others.  

For those who want to take a break from workshops, One-Act plays are also staged during these sessions. Schools who attend the festival have the option to perform a brief production in front of an audience and are adjudicated. This is a great opportunity for young Thespians to rehearse their talents and allow others to view their work. Each year, one school is chosen to perform their One-Act at International Thespian Festival.  

Students also have the chance to perform theatrical material in solo, duo, or small group productions for adjudication. Known as the International Thespian Excellence Awards (Thespy), performers are ranked in categories including acting, musical theatre, costume design, makeup, stage management, and more. Performers who score a superior are recognized at the closing ceremony and are given the chance to present at International Thespian Festival as well. In addition, Thespians can register for college and scholarship opportunities.  

Calvert High School was one of 38 Maryland schools who attended the festival this year and brought 23 students. Out of the group, 10 students participated in the Thespy performances and two participated in college audition/scholarship opportunities. (See list at bottom) 

Junior Kathleen Struhar attended the 2020 Maryland Thespian Festival. She was inducted into Thespian Society her freshman year. 

“I like that Thespian Festival gives me opportunities to learn about aspects of theatre that I usually don’t practice,” said Struhar. “This year I went to two puppetry workshops and three mask-making workshops, and it was tons of fun.”  

The importance of this festival is that it gives students an outlet to try new things that may not be offered in their school and to promote theatre programs around the country. Throughout the weekend, student members of the Maryland Festival went around to raise money to keep the festival going and invite schools who do not get the chance to attend.  

The International Thespian Festival will be held at Indiana University Bloomington June 22-27, 2020. Anyone interested in theatre or who is inducted into the society is invited to attend, especially those recognized as a Thespy. If you would like to learn more about International Thespian Society or how to contribute, please see the CHS Thespian sponsor, Mrs. Cortney Costello.  

Calvert High School Thespian Performers 2020: 

Solo Acting:  

  • Racheal Brandon (11) 

Duet Acting: 

  • Benjamin Voelker (12)* and Noah Breske (12)* 

Solo Musical Theatre: 

  • Abby Tyndall (10) 
  • Riley Johnson (10) 
  • Jenna Humphreys (11) 
  • Kathleen Struhar (11)* 
  • Racheal Brandon (11) 
  • Isis Shrader (12)* 
  • Andrew Mason (12) 

Duet Musical Theatre: 

  • Ashley Vernier (12) and Noah Breske (12) 
  • Andrew Mason (12) and Isis Shrader (12) 

College Audition/Scholarships: 

  • Racheal Brandon (11) 
  • Ashley Vernier (12)