Junior Thespians

Would you like to start a Junior Thespian Troupe?  JOIN US!!  It is a quick and easy process in which any middle school theater group can take part.  Visit the ITS website for information.  

Speaking of this year’s State Thespian Festival, it is quickly approaching!  The Alabama Thespian Board has been working very hard to create more opportunities specifically for our middle school actors.  This year, Junior Thespians will have their own adjudication for IE’s which will not only allow them to perform in front of their peers, but will also give them a chance to work with adjudicators that were handpicked for middle school students.  We hope this will help more schools attend. If you have additional questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact the Chapter Director.  We are growing fast!  There is no better day than TODAY to join the Alabama Junior Thespian community!

Do you want to bring a Junior Thespian Chapter Select?

Junior Chapter Select form

Note: To give as many schools as possible the chance to perform at Festival, schools may present in only one Festival venue: main stage or the Chapter Select Showcase. If your school is performing in the Chapter Select Showcase then your school cannot perform as part of Festival Main Stage. Jr. Chapter Select stages 2 shows throughout Saturday at Festival. Each show has forty-five minutes to perform, ten minutes to set, and five minutes to strike. Participants must be registered for the entire Festival weekend.

There are three slots available for Jr. Chapter Select.

Lighting: General area lighting is available (stage right, stage left, up center, center, and down center stage) as well as blue and amber washes. Special lighting effects are not available.

Sound: The theatre will provide a CD player, amplification, and speakers. Mics are not permitted in this event.

Sets and props: The following set pieces are allowed: 2 music stands, 1 sofa, 1 arm chair, 1 desk, 1 desk chair, 1 table, 4 chairs, 6 cubes, 6 stools, 8 stacking chairs A prop is any item that will fit through a single door and can be carried by a single person. Set pieces are anything that will not fit through a single door and cannot be carried by a single person. Hand props are items carried onstage by an actor in one hand. Set pieces and flats are not allowed if troupes wish to be considered for Alabama Chapter Select Winner.

Chapter Select Policy:

  1. ALL cast members and members of the technical crew must be registered for festival.
  2. Performance rights must be secured and submitted upon confirmation of participation.
  3. Troupes cannot participate in the Chapter Select Showcase in consecutive years. Exceptions to this rule can be made in the event that all of the slots are not full once the deadline has been reached.
  4. Your time will start as soon as you begin loading in and will stop when you finish loading out. You will be penalized for any amount of time that exceeds 45 minutes performance time.
  5. Please adhere to the times given to you for load in. You may not move your play into the theatre prior to your time as no storage will be available.
  6. Please clear your items from the dressing room into the green at the appointed time. You may leave your things in the green room during your performance.
  7. You must have all of your items cleared from the performance area immediately following your show. We will not have storage space available.
  8. Royalties: Troupes without a performance license or waiver on file will NOT be allowed to perform.
  9. Published material: Troupes must secure written permission from the publisher for presentation at the Festival during Festival dates. Troupes are responsible for payment of royalties. Upon written request, some publishers will waive royalty fees for Festival performances.
  10. Original works: Troupes must have a written statement of originality from the author/playwright—even if it’s you or one of your students—on file with the EdTA National Office.
  11. Works based on non-dramatic material: Troupes must obtain permission to use said material from the publisher. This applies to textbooks, children’s books, novels, short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, etc.
  12. Works translated from another language: Troupes must have written permission from the publisher of that translation. This applies to non-dramatic material as well as dramatic.
  13. Music: Troupes must secure permission for all music used in a performance.
  14. Cuttings: Troupes must secure permission to present a cutting from a play from the play’s publisher. The statement of permission must be attached to the Chapter Select Acceptance sheet. 

If you are already a Junior Troupe Director, please make plans to bring your Troupe to our State Festival.

About Junior Thespians

Since 1929 the International Thespian Society, the student honorary division of the Educational Theatre Association, has worked to promote theatre arts in education. ITS has provided high school-age students and their theatre teachers with support, information, and experiences that make educational theatre an important part of their school experience. In 1990, the Educational Theatre Association has expanded its vision and service of educational theatre to embrace grades kindergarten through twelve. The Junior Thespian component of the International Thespian Society is a result of that change.

The Junior Thespian troupe is a subset of a school’s theatre arts program. It is the student honor society, a separate student organization, and membership is earned. Only students who have been officially inducted and registered with the EdTA national office are members of the International Thespian Society.

Junior Thespian membership is open to students in grades 6 through 8, who  have completed at least 50 hours of excellent work in theatre arts. Points are earned for hours spent in rehearsal and performance, working on production crews, set crew, tech crews or in committees, serving on leadership teams and helping with projects. Stars can be awarded for additional points earned.

Student Benefits of Junior Thespian induction

  • Membership in the only international honor society for junior high/middle school theatre arts students—a recognized demonstration of achievement and a valuable addition to college and employment applications.
  • An official Junior Thespian induction pin.
  • A personalized membership certificate.
  • A personalized membership card.
  • A bumper sticker that reads: Proud parent of a theatre arts honor student.
  • Ability to begin their high school careers with half of the Thespian points required for high school induction.
  • 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 (medallions, 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 eight and move to a high school with a Thespian troupe, they remain Junior Thespian members and alums of their Junior Thespian troupes. They also begin earning points toward a new Thespian membership and induction into the high school troupe. ITS allows Junior Thespians to begin their high school careers with at least half of the Thespian points required for high school induction, normally five 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.

Alabama State Thespian Festival Junior Thespian troupes are invited to attend our State Festival. Junior Troupes are eligible to attend all workshops, and to bring mainstage performances, as well as  entries in all Individual and Group events, including Chapter Select showcase.

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

From the Junior Thespian Handbook:

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 full professional members of the Educational Theatre Association. The troupe director’s membership is active as long as the troupe is active and he or she 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 benefits. A list of EdTA professional member benefits is available at schooltheatre.org/memberbenefits. See details on some of those benefits below.

Publications and resources.

Dramatics. Published in print and digital editions 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, profiles of theatre professionals, instructional pieces on technical theatre, and more.

Dramatics annual special issues.

• The College Issue provides valuable resources for college-bound theatre students. Check out our College Resource Center and searchable directory at schooltheatre.org/collegeresourcecenter.

• The Summer Theatre Issue lists and describes opportunities for students to study, perform, or find work in theatre over the summer break.

Teaching Theatre. Published quarterly in print and digital editions, Teaching Theatre is the journal of record for the field of theatre education and is written for theatre educators, college theatre ed. majors, and supporters of educational theatre. The journal features articles on theatre curricula, advocacy news, trends in theatre education, and hands-on, how-to pieces on everything from scenery to directing.

Professional development opportunities.

EdTA National Conference. The event for busy theatre education professionals, the EdTA National 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. See schooltheatre.org/conference.

Professional Development Intensives (PDIs). These are one- or two-day opportunities for theatre educators to develop their arsenal of professional skills on a specific topic. They are in-depth crash courses taught by experts and thought-leaders in the theatre education field. Topics range from directing a musical to curriculum development to stage lighting. Participation allows attendees to advance a graduate degree or earn continuing education credits. See schooltheatre.org/professionaldevelopment.

Additional troupe benefits and services

Administrator awareness letter. Each fall, the National Office sends a congratulatory letter to the principals of ITS affiliated schools that highlights the hard work of their theatre honor students and troupe director. Along with the letter, each principal receives a list of all Junior Thespians that were active at the end of the previous school year and their scholar distinctions. To provide the best possible list, troupe directors must update the scholar distinction field on each Junior Thespian’s online profile at the end of each school year and before July 31. They can do so using the Student member and contacts list link on their troupe homepage.

Thespian and Junior Thespian spirit gear merchandise. Junior Thespians can show their theatre spirit with a variety of items available for purchase to members and the general public through the online EdTA Store. Spirit gear includes magnets, buttons, key rings, stickers, and more. ITS apparel and other items and services are available at special member rates through officially licensed vendors.

Rush service for dues and merchandise processing. The vast majority of inductions and orders are submitted between April 15 and June 15. We call this time period rush season. EdTA recommends that troupe directors plan for their inductions well in advance. Normal processing during rush season is two weeks. Troupe directors may purchase priority rush service at any time of year to receive their induction or merchandise materials within five business days after receipt of the forms and payment by the National Office. Details and fees are listed wherever the rush service option is available.

Royalty reductions for productions. The ITS royalty reduction program helps troupe directors to apply for discounted rates on royalties for upcoming productions through cooperating play publishers. The service is not available for musicals. Additional guidelines and restrictions apply. See the royalty adjustments page for more information.

EdTA/ITS awards and recognition. EdTA offers numerous national 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. See schooltheatre.org/awards.

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. See schooltheatre.org/totseat.

Affiliate professional memberships. Adults affiliated with an ITS member school are eligible to join their school’s troupe director as a member of EdTA for the special rate of $60 ($35 off the standard professional dues of $95). See schooltheatre.org/join. Any number of local troupe co-directors, assistant directors, faculty, administrators, advisers, and active troupe alums may take advantage of this opportunity. Affiliate professional members enjoy the same basic benefits as troupe directors, but only the troupe director has official troupe leadership authority. See The role of the troupe director above.

Advocacy information and resources. EdTA is a major player in arts education advocacy, leveraging the power of our more than 100,000 members to influence public opinion and decision makers that theatre education is essential and builds vital, twenty-first century academic, career, and life skills. To that end, EdTA has created an advocacy webpage that provides a suite of advocacy tools and resources divided into local, state, and national categories. These are particularly helpful for schools at risk of losing funding and support. The web page includes a resource section that lists key organizations, reports, and research that can bolster advocacy efforts, including the 2012 Survey of Theatre Education in U.S. High Schools and the Core Theatre Standards. See schooltheatre.org/advocacy.

EdTA has also created Student Advocacy Works (SAW), a grassroots student-led theatre education advocacy initiative. Its mission is to communicate the value of theatre education to school, district, state, and national decision makers and others committed to quality education through Festival, chapter conferences, troupes, and social media. Students affiliated with ITS troupes may even earn points for advocacy work.

Helpful Links for Junior Thespian Troupe Directors:

Junior Thespian Troupe Director Resource Page:


Junior Thespian Troupe Handbook:


Benefits of Starting a Junior Thespian Troupe at your School, including presentation resources:


Official Junior Thespian Point System: