The Educational Theatre Association this week honored the ushers at the Lied Center for Performing Arts with its Volunteer of the Year Award, presented for their work during the International Thespian Festival over the past 25 years.
During the last week of June each year, two times a day, the volunteer ushers guide a full house of 2,200 high school theater students from across the country and around the world to their seats as they prepare to watch performances from a half-dozen thespian troupes whose work has earned the privilege of performing on the main stage of the International Thespian Festival.
ITF, the premier high school theater festival in the nation, attracts some 4,500 students and their teachers for a weeklong immersion in performance, learning, and opportunities to audition for scholarships and college admissions. Among the highest honors in school theater is for a Thespian Troupe to be invited to perform on the main stage at the Lied at ITF.
“The International Thespian Festival is EdTA’s signature event, and the mainstage performances are a highlight,” EdTA Executive Director Julie Theobald said in a news release. “For 25 years we’ve counted on this marvelous group of dedicated individuals to ensure that when the curtain was ready to go up on the show, the house would be ready, too.”
Over the past 10 years, 443 individuals have volunteered to usher sold-out houses of high school students. Of those individuals, 26 have worked for nine of the past 10 years, and 27 have volunteered all 10 years.
The ITF, which has been oversubscribed the last three years, is ending its quarter-century run at the Lied this year. It will move to Bloomington, Indiana, in 2020, which can accommodate 6,500 students, rather than 4,400, per day.